We sat down with some of the companies which attended the last Graduateland Virtual Career Fair for a chat on what you should bear in mind when preparing for the next event in 2017. 

Follow their advice to maximise the potential gains from attending virtual career fairs.

Preparation: Research, research, research…

To capitalise on this unique opportunity of getting to meet and greet employers from the comforts of your own home, you should be honest and open about what you expect to gain from your conversation with hiring managers. To present yourself confidently and articulately, you will need to pour some time and effort into preparing yourself for the fair as you would normally do for a job interview. You can convey your enthusiasm for wanting to work for a particular company through the way you conduct yourself and engage in a conversation. The latter should evolve organically as opposed to coming across as a well-rehearsed act. One recruiter says:

To demonstrate a genuine interest in the company whose representative you are talking to, avoid generic questions and abstract comments. Run the requisite background checks of companies attending the event and use your research findings to develop questions that employers find meaningful and worth investing time to elaborate on. Being negligent and inadequately prepared would not help you shine and would ultimately waste both yours and the employers’ time.

Delve deep into your own motivations for wanting to be part of a certain company. Make sure that you can communicate these sentiments clearly and convincingly. Demonstrating knowledge of the company’s culture is vital and would, undoubtedly, tip the scales in your favour as one company official pointed out. You cannot possibly ascertain if you are a good fit without conducting the necessary research.

Opening the Conversation: Start with a bang?

Humour is one of the most effective tools for connecting with an audience. If the latter, however, consists of potential employers, and the art of successfully delivering a punch line eludes you, refrain from making unwarranted jokes. However, being too stiff can backfire just as much. As a company official we spoke to framed it:

“Try to be yourself, and introduce yourself as you would do when meeting new friends – not your new parents in law.”

Start with a simple hello followed by a brief introduction of yourself and your educational/professional background. Remain cognizant of the fact that employers will have access to your CV while interacting with you so as to avoid reiterating facts that they might have already familiarised themselves with. Should you choose to strike up a conversation with a specific question, you can follow up on that. Another option would be to request a bit of information on the company’s latest projects/operations, and thus show a keen interest in them specifically. A little flattery goes a long way - but remember: If you ask a question, you should actually pay attention to the answer!

Making a lasting impression

Add an element of spontaneity to your presentation and avoid scripted responses. Let the conversation flow naturally and do not attempt to project a false or inflated image of yourself - employers will see through it. Putting your best foot forward should not lead to misperceptions as to what you can realistically offer in terms of skills and expertise. Aim for a genuine and sincere dialogue where both you and the prospective employer could evaluate the potential for future collaboration. A mismatch between what a hiring manager is seeking and a candidate is able to credibly bring to the table would often result in disappointment on both sides.

Employers often take note of candidates that come across as poised and self-assured. Inner confidence radiates outwardly and draws positive attention your way so try to exude that when interacting with recruiters. Another essential point that an employer raised:

“You never know what might come of a conversation with someone at a fair that you did not think you would be speaking with.”

Clarity of purpose and an awareness of personal strengths, interests, and ambitions is something else that employers expect to see in a potential candidate. If you appear confused or undecided as to the career path you would like to follow, you are unlikely to be considered seriously, which would reflect poorly on your chances of securing a position in any company. This should not, however, dissuade you from striking a conversation with as many people as you can. Explore your options with companies that you do not necessarily think of as a ‘perfect match’, especially if you are a new graduate and unclear as to what line of work would suit you best. Even if you fail to land a job, you could derive some much-needed inspiration that will prove valuable in your job search further down the line.

Last but not least, having extensive theoretical knowledge or prior experience in a particular field would not suffice - you need to demonstrate passion, drive, and enthusiasm in order to leave a lasting impression on recruiters.

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.