A Virtual Job Summit: Meet employers from all over the country sitting at your own desk.
Ten years ago, if I might make a guesstimate, such an idea would have not excited the same amount of attention for job seekers or employers. Mainly because the job market was thriving with job seekers that were well acquainted with the big, no holds barred, venue based job fairs.
Things are different now. Oh, so different . We are a generation more comfortable with chatting into our nifty devices than with a real live person. Talking is overrated. Literally. its rated a 4.0 when its clearly just 1.0 on the GenY scale. (What scale is this? What Is the end point here? Not important. I made it up.)
Let’s get down to brass tacks. I attended the Virtual Career Fair by Biocareers last year. What did I get out of it? An opportunity to talk to hiring managers (yes, not recruiters but hiring managers, the ones who Really make the decision) from all biotechnology focused companies, attendance to webinars focused on resumes, cover letters, specific career paths and day-in-life-of –researcher topics. And these are just the ones I could attend while working full time in a lab.
Now I have attended around 3 to 4 job big job fairs either via my university or the Big Ten network. Without trying to devalue the effort going behind these well meaning endeavors, there are so many more advantages that a virtual career fair brings compared to the traditional approach that it would be a disservice not to mention them :
1. Easy to Access. Read it again. Easy to Access. Dressing up and travelling to the venue with a big folder in hand while trying to better your elevator speech versus sitting in the comfort of home/desk with all electronic documents in hand at a click of the mouse.
2. Multi-tasking within time frame.So many times I have regretted not meeting as many recruiters as possible on site whereas, in a virtual fair, you know their specific times and you can prepare beforehand who you can talk to and when. So much more flexibility for employers and job seekers.
3. Job Description at hand.Not a gargantuan dossier with job listings, a well documented list of careers and descriptions with requirements that Bio Careers puts up within the Employer lobby for you to go through months before the actual fair. Huge advantage.
There are so many more but these 3 are to me the most important ones.
How to Navigate the fair :
1. Prepare.Prepare.Prepare . and then Practice.Practice.Practice. Both are crucial. Preparing in this case is learning how to communicate professionally over Live Chat. Believe me, the temptation to descend to the level of casual chat is high. Mistake. Always be professional. Remember, these are Hiring Managers , not your friends.Practicing is navigating the various minutiae of the virtual career interface well before hand to get a map of the same in your head. There are lots of options at the Bio Careers virtual career fair. You don’t want to get lost.
2. Dress to Impress. Yes I know. You are at home, you are mostly not going to be seen. But if a potential employer wishes to start a video chat (potential hiring goes beyond just chatting, once the employer is very interested, a more direct communication is preferred) you don’t want to put them on hold while you whip up a semi professional look. Suit Up.
Be Specific about queries. Like a real career fair, employers expect you to know about their positions beforehand. Many make a mistake of treating a virtual fair like a tour. This is the Real Mccoy gentlemen/women, many people are eliminated or get an interview based on the virtual fair.
The Webinars within the fair are invaluable. Absolutely, do not miss them.
I made some really good industry contacts within the fair, and I was, then, fairly new to the job hunting process. Whether a novice or job-hunt veteran, this fair will be a dazzling experience for you.
It’s a Brave New World job seekers. Go Hunt. Virtually.