You may have been to a traditional job fair before. Mostly like it went somewhat like this: you are in one of the big cities’ conference halls or at your university campus in a swarm of fellow job seekers. Together you stand in one line or another at a company booth, holding a folder with a pile of neatly printed CVs, hoping that this time, you will have time enough to leave them with all the companies you have planned. At the end, you grab a branded pen and off you go.
Okay... If you attend a virtual career fair, however, you will find another scenery: you are sitting in a room, be it in the countryside or in the city center, your living room or a lecture hall, facing just your laptop and enjoying your tea or coffee as you log into a digital venue.
Both scenarios can be a vital part of your job search process - yet, the experiences still differ between the two.
Let’s begin with noting the similarities. Whether traditional or virtual, job fairs remain job fairs, so they both offer a chance to:
- meet a number of potential employers in one single place,
- expand your network,
- distribute your CVs or business cards (if you have them),
- present your professional profile and gain valuable insight into the job market.
In both cases professional approach and prior research is a must: check our recruiters’ tips on how to stand out when attending a virtual career fair and the Do’s and Don’ts at a virtual career fair for more advice.
So what about the differences worth keeping in mind?
1. Access to the job fair
Traditional career fair: To attend any traditional fair you need to get there first, which means travel. If you live in a big city, the most you risk is an hour on a bus or metro, but if you are not based in a metropolitan area, travelling can be a serious obstacle.
Virtual career fair: The main and undeniable advantage of virtual fairs is the easy accessibility, which is one of the main reasons Graduateland is now organising its second virtual event, Graduateland Career Fair 2017, on February 8th 2017. Even if you live at the North Pole, you can scout the job possibilities offered by companies from say…Australia (well, provided that there is Wifi on the North Pole).
2. Contact with companies
Traditional career fair: A handshake, a direct but less formal personal contact with recruiters, and a chance to charm them with your confidence and personality face to face: without a doubt, traditional job fairs give you a chance to make the most of your interpersonal skills. Plus: you can use them not only while meeting the recruiters but also to network with other job seekers.
Virtual career fair: Virtual fair platform makes it easier to find the right people to talk to. Remember that since you will be meeting them primarily through messengers and chats, perfection in written communication should be your top priority. You will need it mostly to present your actual skills and qualifications, often with a view to a concrete job offered during the event. And while you type, keep in mind that the internet doesn't forget: you and the recruiter can always scroll back in the dialogue.
3. What you get out of it
Traditional career fair: Usually, the main aim of attending a traditional career fair is not to walk out with a new job already secured. It is much more about getting to know the companies and gaining unique first-hand insight. You may spend some time in line just to find out that there is no chemistry between you and a certain employer, but you may make valuable connections that way. (And don’t forget that pen!)
Virtual career fair: During a virtual career fair, the companies often have a chance to preselect the people they want to talk to based on the attendees’ online profile. This means that the process is very time-efficient for both parties involved. Recruiters know who they speak to, can easier match with right candidates and, thus, they are more willing to engage in a meaningful and specific dialogue.
To sum up...
...attending a traditional fair will require you to focus on interpersonal skills and direct contact with employers. While you will probably not become an employee straight away, you will gain a richer network, good sense of the local job market and, last but not least, a handful of goodies. Attending a virtual fair will not bring you a bunch of free pens or tea mugs for your tea. Instead, you may expect to discover and discuss concrete job opportunities, or even, if you are lucky, your future job.
The next Virtual Career Fairs are open for registration!
Would you like to put these tips to the test? Then sign up for one of the upcoming Virtual Career Fairs hosted by Graduateland where you can chat with top employers online! You can learn more about the events and register with your user account - just click on the event that interests you.