VCFs: The first step in helping you find the opportunity of your dreams

What is a virtual career fair?

In virtual career fairs (VCFs), recruiters and candidates are connected in a virtual space through informational and recruitment events. From the comfort of their own homes, attendees can learn about sponsors or career opportunities. Employers can share job openings and meet with students at their partner schools at virtual career fairs, much like traditional in-person career fairs. 

In a poll by Handshake of nearly 400 early talent recruiting professionals, the majority of employers said they spent 2-3x less time or about the same time on virtual compared to in-person recruiting.

Employers previously relied on student foot traffic to drive interest to their booths on campus, but in the virtual landscape, that interest is driven by the impact of their digital presence. When there is no face-to-face interaction, components such as your Employer Page description, student testimonials, virtual fair content, and alumni connections become increasingly important.

What can I expect during a virtual career fair?

Unlike in-person career fairs, virtual career fairs are typically held in the same manner as in-person ones. You’ll have the opportunity to interact with various representatives and ask questions. Aside from booths for organisational representatives, informational resources, webinars, panels, and presentations (live and/or recorded), there will also be opportunities to privately chat with representatives or discuss your questions with larger groups on a public board. 

You may also have the opportunity to network with program mentors, recent graduates, and other attendees. Additionally, you will have the chance to connect with peers in your field of research or with those who are interning at the same program. Also, be sure to apply for 1:1 or group sessions with companies! Get in touch with hiring managers and current employees to find out more about the company and what they’re looking for.

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What can I do to succeed during the event?

The day of the event has finally arrived, and you’ve completed everything on your preparation checklist. Now, what?

  • Check the event schedule. Take note of any webinars, presentations, or informational sessions that may be offered and plan your time accordingly. 
  • Visit each booth and take a look at as much content as you can. Do not limit your attention and time to just a few booths—visit as many as possible to maximize your virtual career fair experience. In addition to allowing you to process content at your own pace, virtual career fairs will enable you to identify the best opportunities for you.
  • Chat with representatives. Although you will be able to gather a lot of information just from browsing through booths, chatting with representatives is the best way to learn more about a company and its opportunities. Representatives may also be able to offer you additional resources or career advice or point you toward an opportunity that matches your interests. 
  • Multi-task. Take advantage of the virtual format by visiting other booths to browse through content while waiting in line to chat. Ask about areas of research, the culture, what they like best about what they do—you may find a new “favourite.” And don’t forget to see if there are opportunities to chat with peers and network with your fellow attendees!
  • Take notes. Write down any information you learn while chatting with representatives. Which aspects of the company stand out to you? Do they offer any benefits? What is the application process like? You can determine which opportunities align with your interests and needs by taking notes during the event and prepare to apply afterward by noting what you learned.
  • Ask how to follow up or for contact information. If you think of questions after the event has ended, need help with an application, or just want to learn more, having a way to follow up will be crucial. Remember to ask for contact information, and don’t be afraid to share your own! 

 

Most virtual events are designed as informational resources, not hiring events, but some may help you find opportunities and ultimately get hired. Students and graduates can learn about companies and explore career options at virtual career fairs and they are most effective when they attend with an open mind and a willingness to learn.

What's Next?

According to NACE, the majority of employers (54%) are recruiting virtually throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. It’s likely that many students won’t be returning immediately once campuses reopen, so virtual career fairs are here to stay.

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