Convenience, cost savings and accessibility to a diverse community of job candidates are a few reasons why some companies, including military-ready employers, shifted their efforts to virtual recruiting prior to the threat of COVID-19.
One tool in a virtual recruiting strategy is the virtual hiring fair, a web-based platform that allows job candidates to attend hiring events from the comfort of their homes. While virtual career fairs are convenient for both the recruiter and the job seeker, these hiring fairs aren’t casual interactions. Job seekers must approach virtual career fairs with the same level of professionalism they would bring to an in-person hiring event.
Here are three tips for veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses who want to stand out to recruiters during a virtual hiring event.
Research Companies Participating in the Virtual Hiring Event
After registration, the first step in preparing for a virtual career fair is researching the participating employers. Researching a company is more than skimming its “About Us” webpage. To thoroughly and effectively research a company, spend time reading press releases, news articles, and LinkedIn posts that mention the employer. As you read these items, note anything that interests you.
To kickstart your research, we recommend finding the answers to these questions:
- What are the company’s mission and values?
- Does the company have a military hiring program?
- Does the company have a military resource group?
- Who is the company’s CEO and how long as he or she been in this position?
- Who are this company’s clients? What products or services do they offer?
If you can’t find the answer to a question, don’t sweat it. You can ask the recruiter this question during your one-on-one chat. Questions are a great way to convey enthusiasm, and to forge a rapport with the recruiter.
Type Your Answers Before the Virtual Career Fair
During a virtual career fair, participants engage with recruiters through one-on-one virtual interviews via a standard “chat box.” Each person receives a limited amount of time to speak with the recruiter, so use your time wisely.
The most effective way to make a good first impression with the recruiter is to have an introduction of your education, skills, and future goals typed, proofread and ready to go. When it’s your turn to enter the virtual interview space and the recruiter types “tell me about yourself,” you can copy and paste your elevator pitch into the chat box.
Starting the conversation with a focused approach, you will have more time to connect with the recruiter. You won’t scramble to answer basic questions about your qualifications and you will be less likely to have typos in your responses.
Don’t forget to weave your research information into your answers. For example, if the recruiter asks “Are you willing to relocate?” You would type “Yes, I am interested in working at the corporation’s headquarters in St. Louis or its satellite campuses in Dallas and San Francisco.” See what you did there? You answered the question and showed the recruiter that you researched the company’s U.S. locations.
Keep the conversation focused and formal. Use “Mr.” and “Ms.” in your responses. Avoid using emoticons, slang, and SMS text language. For example, type “you” instead of “u” and “imo” instead of “in my opinion.” While this abbreviated language is a timesaver, it sends a message of laziness.
Turn These Virtual Connections Into Professional Relationships
A virtual career fair is your opportunity to network without traveling, so take advantage of this unique experience by connecting with the recruiter outside of the virtual career fair platform.
During the virtual hiring fair, remember to ask for each recruiter’s contact information before the conclusion of your interview. Immediately after the event, connect with each recruiter on LinkedIn. Don’t forget to send a personalized message in your connection request.
Finally, we recommend that you send a thank you note via email to each recruiter you interviewed with during the event. In your thank you note, include a brief summary of your conversation, remind them of one key qualification that makes you a good fit for the position, and ask them to keep you informed on the next steps in the hiring process.
Since few candidates take the time to send thank you notes, recruiters advise us this polite gesture is an easy way for you to impress them.
Now is the time for job seekers to get comfortable connecting with recruiters at virtual career fairs. With our tips, we hope that your next job is one that you landed through a virtual hiring event.