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What is the Virtual Career Fair?
The Virtual Career Fair (VCF) is a one-day online career fair/networking for Ph.D. & Master’s students, postdocs, and alumni that offers the opportunity to connect with employers. These employers represent a range of career fields (review hiring details here). They are all seeking advanced-degree candidates. This year’s VCF will be on March 2, 2017. Attend the fair from anywhere!
Here is how some past participants described their experience:
It was a fun experience with less pressure and surprisingly, less awkwardness than a real-life career fair.
It was nice to speak with recruiters gain career advice.
Good and easy way to connect to possible employers
Great and easy way to talk to people from organizations that are hiring, to find out more about the job and the organization.
What can I do to prepare for a successful VCF?
Review the organizations' profiles in advance (After logging in, click "Event Details" for this fair)
Develop a strategy - which companies do you most want to speak with?
Decide how to allocate your time. Determine what times your target employers will be holding chat rooms.
Prepare questions before joining a chat session, or if you prefer, you can review others' questions in the public chat.
Write your elevator pitch, which you should strictly use in private interactions with employers (do not post these in the public chat room).
Not all employers will send email invitations to their chat sessions so join the event and visit employers that interest you. You are welcome to visit any chat sessions during the fair. Important: Please take note of any work authorization restrictions that may apply before joining a chat room (shown on the list of participating employers).
Recruiters may have a lot of traffic (just as in a live fair) and cannot reach everyone immediately. Remember that patience is highly appreciated by the recruiters and the right job is worth the wait! If you run out of time, you can follow up with the recruiters after the fair. Get their name an email and leave yours for them.
What does a successful career fair experience look like for a participant?
Everyone's goals & outcomes will be different. Here are some possibilities:
Research the employment market, learn about opportunities in a variety of industries
Network with potential future employers
Determine which positions are a strong match for your background
Learn about skills and competencies you can develop to be competitive in a range of fields
Submit job applications to employers' existing openings
Secure an interview during or after the event
You can use this forum as an opportunity to increase your industry knowledge. By speaking to recruiters you can learn more about the hiring process, how candidates are selected and screened, what to expect during an interview, (like how to answer challenging interview questions such as, “What is your expected salary?”) and negotiation tips. This is a great way to learn about hiring from the employer’s perspective.
Employers use this forum for a variety of reasons: some are there to increase awareness of their organization, discuss hiring trends and screen potential candidates (and interviews take place afterward), while others conduct phone interviews, video interviews, or schedule in-person interviews during or after the event. Many employers make job offers to candidates found through the virtual career fairs. Important: Joining employers’ chat sessions is the first step in potentially securing a job offer.
Registration is already open and will be open through the end of the day of the Career Fair. Register early to give yourself time to study the list of participating employers and opportunities.
Upload your resume immediately after registering so employers will have access to it. Uploading your resume and/or cover letter is the first step in making your materials available to participating employers. After you upload your documents into the system, they are visible immediately for review by employers. Companies may begin screening resumes prior to the event and also invite you to visit their specific chat sessions and/or schedule video interviews before, during, or after the event hours.
Participants need only a computer and internet access to participate. Webcams, avatars, and photos are NOT required. Interactions between employers and participants will be primarily through text chatting. (Employers do have the ability to initiate one-on-one video chats with you. If this is the case, you should be dressed as if you were going on an interview. Make that first impression a good one! We also recommend you check what is visible behind you so that there is nothing to distract the recruiter.) Note: it is acceptable to indicate to an employer that you are unable to video chat, if this is not an option for you at the time of the request.
For the best experience, participants should log on using an up-to-date version of Google Chrome (preferred) or Firefox from a desktop/laptop; these are required to be able to view/hear any multimedia broadcasts presented by employers. The most up-to-date versions of Safari and Internet Explorer will also work; however, you will not be able to see presentations or participate in one-to-one video chats.
Employers will continue to register leading up to the VCF, so make sure to check back for an updated list. You may also express interest in employers directly on this page when logged in by clicking the checkmark to the left of the employer's name on the list.
Will employers sponsor work visas?
Some employers are open to sponsoring work visas for international students. Visa sponsorship is clearly indicated on the list of registered employers. If you require sponsorship, focus your efforts during the VCF on communicating with employers who will sponsor. There is no need to ask “Will you provide sponsorship?” because that question is already answered. Instead, use your time to get clarification on the application process and determine which opportunities are a good fit for your skills and experience.
Will there be job postings? Where can I find them?
When logged into your account, click the Job Board tab. Review job postings and be informed about available positions and how to apply (and then you can formulate your questions for the chat room). Not all employers post positions.
Who will be in an employer chat room?
An employer will host a chat room where you and other participants can ask questions and converse. You may enter a maximum of one room at a time; exit existing rooms to enter new ones. The organization representatives will be listed once you are in the room. For confidential reasons, chat visitors will be listed by first name and first initial of last name (you will see your own name in full). Private chatting is also possible between participants and employers.
What types of questions will employers be prepared to answer?
After you have done your research on the organization by reviewing their profile, and you notice specific jobs are posted in the Virtual Fair, you can ask about those jobs, requirements, and fit. You can also ask about other opportunities. Questions about an organization's culture and future opportunities are also welcome. Ask questions that will help you assess whether an employer or opportunity would be a good fit for you.
Do not ask personal questions, or be too informal in your chatting.
Can I have a private chat with an employer?
An employer can invite you to a private chat. You will receive a notification next to the rep's name, with a number to the left of their name indicating how many messages are waiting. Click on the rep's name to accept and open the private chat window. You may also initiate a private chat with an employer representative by clicking the down arrow next to the rep's name and inviting them to a private chat (if an employer sets themselves to busy, you will be unable to private chat with them; in these cases, chat through the public chat).
I noticed that some employers listed job postings but are not hosting chat hours. Should I still apply for their jobs?
Absolutely. Some employers use the Virtual Career Fair as a method to collect resumes and identify interested candidates. By applying to job postings and/or noting your interest in a specific employer through your account, the employer will be alerted to look at your resume. Employers then have the option to follow-up directly with candidates that match their criteria subsequent to the virtual event.
How can I follow up after the fair?
The list of employers will be active after the fair. Click an employer's name on the list and review the "Website and Contact" section of the profile for any contact details that may have been given (not all employers will give direct contact details; however, they do have access to your uploaded documents and may contact you directly). Job listings will remain active for 60 days after the employer entered them.
If I have a technical question about the fair, who should I ask?
If you have a technical question about the fair, please go to the CareerEco chat room, which will be staffed by people who can quickly help you navigate the fair.
If I have a question about making the most of the fair, interviewing advice or follow up strategies, who should I ask?
If you have a question about best practices for working with employers on aspects of your job search, including etiquette during the fair, please go to the Graduate Career Consortium chat room, which will be staffed by Career Counselors.