Virtual job fairs expand search options
By Anita Bruzzese - Gannett News Service
With the rising cost of travel and a shortage of time many of us experience trying to juggle busy lives, it can be tough attending a lot of job fairs or visiting prospective employers when looking for a new job. But with a few computer keystrokes, your problems may be solved.
Virtual job fairs are growing in popularity. Not only can job seekers participate from the comfort of their own home — or even from a current job — but employers find that it allows them to attract candidates from across the globe and also to see a greater number of job seekers in less time.
"A virtual job fair is just like a regular job fair, with different employer booths and the chance to talk to employers about jobs," says Don Best, director of marketing for Unisfair in Menlo Park, Calif. "You still give an employer a résumé and anything else you think might help you get the job, but you're doing the whole thing while sitting at a computer."
More employers are using virtual events, whether it's a job fair, marketing event, sales training or even award ceremonies, because they can use technology to cut costs associated with such events and attract attendees worldwide, Best says. For job fairs, the virtual aspect allows hiring managers to streamline a process that often can be onerous at a time when companies are under pressure to move faster in order to compete.
How exactly does a virtual job fair work? Best says that once an applicant registers online, then he or she can move to various employer booths. When an applicant makes contact with that employer, the résumé and other important documentation is immediately available to the hiring manager and a "conversation" is handled via text messaging between the applicant and the company.
Still, an employer may be talking to several applicants at one time and can "see" about 300 applicants in eight hours. So just like with a flesh-and-blood interview, you've got to do your homework and make sure you make a positive impression right away. But how to do that when the employer can't see your brilliant smile or freshly shined shoes?
Best says there are ways to make sure you make a good impression during a virtual job fair. Some tips:
Finally, it's important to understand that the virtual job fair is just a screening process. Best says no one is offered a job during a virtual event, but if the employer likes what the applicant offers, expect a follow-up phone call or face-to-face meeting.
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