Working during the era of COVID-19: Navigating the Virtual Job Fair

This blog is part of a series by the Workforce Development staff at St. Francis House.

You are likely familiar with physical job fairs, as the Workforce Development Department at St. Francis House highly encourages all our participants to attend these events! Usually, a job fair entails multiple human resources representatives from targeted organizations (such as the healthcare or hospitality field) coming together to meet potential employees under the same roof.

However, in the current circumstances of COVID-19, job fairs have moved online. The intent remains the same, for potential employees to find employers, but the process is different. Instead of in-person conversations, the virtual career fair may involve chat rooms, webinars or webcasts. If this sounds intimidating, don’t be worried! This is a fairly new process for many people, so the format of these fairs will be designed to be user friendly.

Here are the steps to keep in mind as you adapt to this alternate way of job searching, which may remain relevant far into the future as companies look to save time and resources.

  1. You have to find a virtual job fair! A Google search for a virtual job or career fair with the name of the industry and city is never a bad place to start. You can also make inquiries with your local career center, checking www.MassHiredowntownboston.org is a good resource, and other MassHire websites covering all of Massachusetts. Elsewhere on the web take a look at www.JobFairsIn.com and also search on social media sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn. Once you find a fair you are interested in, there will be details about the format of the fair, such as virtual chat rooms, and simple technical instructions on how to participate.
  2. Register ahead of time and research the companies attending the virtual job fair. You don’t want to waste time during the actual event looking at job descriptions. Look at the positions on offer, write down what interests you about them, and prepare questions. Be prepared to mention facts that speak to you about the companies to show your enthusiasm.
  3. Be ready with a short introductory personal statement about yourself to present to employers at the virtual job fair. Whether it is a digital chat, phone or video call, you want to have an “elevator pitch” about yourself- a few short points of interest that include some highlights of your career path and professional goals for the future.
  4. Check that your computer or smartphone is ready for a virtual job fair. You don’t want to run into technical trouble during the career fair! If you have to download specific software or phone apps, do it a day early and test them out on a “dry run.” Think about where you will place your computer or smartphone so you don’t have to keep propping it up or moving it during the event and make sure you are in a well-lit space so you can be seen if cameras are used.
  5. Have your resume nearby to look at during the virtual job fair and uploaded on your computer or smartphone ahead of time. If you meet a human resources representative at the virtual career fair that you are connecting with, don’t forget to provide your resume before the conversation ends. Have it easy to access on the computer or phone you are using so you can send it immediately on email or the virtual fair platform they are using.
  6. Make sure to dress professionally for the virtual job fair. The fair may be online, but you may be asked to do a video call rather than a screen chat or phone conversation. In this case, your appearance will be judged so best not to take any chances!
  7. Find a calm space to attend the virtual job fair. If you are connecting with potential employers, you don’t want anything distracting them from your best self. Pets, friends, partners, children, general noise, all take the focus off your conversation! Find a quiet, private room if possible to minimize distractions.
  8. Follow up after the virtual job fair.  As you would with an in-person interview or job fair, acknowledging successful interactions after meeting people is extremely important. It reminds people of who you are after they likely meet many candidates that day. Make sure to get relevant contact information, then send a personalized email referencing your conversation with your resume attached. Make sure to highlight your interest in any roles. This is also a great way to network even if you don’t see jobs that are the best fit at this time!

We wish you great success in navigating the virtual job fair!

As always: through email, phone, and video, we’re continuing to provide workforce development services virtually. We look forward to meeting you if we haven’t already, for guests not already assigned to a staff member but in need of assistance, there are a few ways to contact our team: