If you’ve ever attended a career fair, you know the drill: have copies of your resume handy, dress professionally, and be ready to introduce yourself to each company. For virtual events, it might look more like: ensure your internet connection is stable, secure a quiet spot, and be sure to dress to impress — at least from the waist up. Whether you’re looking to connect with a company in person or over the screen, you’re probably wondering how to make an impact on a recruiter to set yourself apart from other job candidates. Here are some tips for standing out at in-person and virtual career fairs.
Do Your Research Beforehand
Figure out which companies you are interested in and look them up before attending the career fair.
Choose up to five companies that interest you and visit their websites before attending the career fair. Note as much background information as you can about them and what makes them unique before approaching them at the career fair — because you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you have to admit that you’ve never heard of them before.
Find out which virtual platform will be used to host the event and look up how to navigate it in advance — especially if you’re not familiar with the software. Write down or type up a few key facts about the companies you’re interested in before you attend the virtual event. And keep your notes open so that you can add to them when you interact with recruiters.
Engage Recruiters From Companies That Interest You
You don’t have to engage with every company at the fair, but you will want to build rapport with recruiters from the companies that interest you the most.
After you’ve done your homework, approach the companies you’ve researched and lead the conversation with the recruiters. Instead of waiting for them to fill you in, show them you are interested in positions by naming them specifically and highlighting what stuck out to you the most about those positions. Remember to remain attentive, ask questions, and be professional.
Names are not always displayed during virtual career fairs, so stand out from other candidates by introducing yourself before recruiters have to ask you who you are. When answering or asking questions, show that you’ve done your homework by structuring the questions in a way that lets the recruiter know you have knowledge about the company and/or the role. And lastly, always smile, be polite, and pay attention when engaging with the recruiter — and don’t let other open windows or tabs on your screen distract you during the event.
Send a Meaningful Follow-Up Message … and Stay in Touch
Help recruiters remember you by sending follow-up messages re-expressing your interest.
Because recruiters meet so many candidates at career fairs, it can be difficult for them to remember everyone they interacted with. Make yourself memorable by sending a thank you email after your conversation highlighting key topics that you discussed with the recruiter. Pro Tip: Take notes when you meet with them so that you have them handy when writing your message later.
After a virtual event, it’s also important to send a thank you email or LinkedIn message to the recruiters you spoke with. And be sure to add a personal touch to your message that mentions something you discussed with the recruiter. It’s best to send your message no more than 72 hours after meeting the recruiter.
It’s also a good idea to stay in contact with the recruiters after both in-person and virtual events by connecting with them on LinkedIn. That way you have opened the door to send an occasional check-in message to see if they are hiring for new roles.
Attend Other Events by the Companies You’re Interested In
Many companies have hiring events separate from career fairs.
When speaking with recruiters, ask them if their companies have any other hiring events or info sessions coming up. Be sure to ask where you can sign up for these events, and follow through to show your commitment. If you go to another event, don’t be afraid to reintroduce yourself to the recruiter you spoke with at the career fair, and mention that you are excited to see them again.
You’ll also want to inquire about future events during a virtual career fair, as well as when and where you can sign up. You may be able to sign up during the career fair via a link, or provide your email address to the recruiter to be notified of future events.
Recruiters meet a ton of candidates at every event — and you don’t want to be just another face in the crowd. With these tips, you can make your time at career fairs count, such as asking detailed questions, signing up for future events, and sending follow-up messages to the recruiters you met. By taking these actions, you’ll be one step closer to finding your next job opportunity!