In late February, GovLoop hosted its first (what we hope to be "annual") Virtual Government Career Fair. We had thousands of participants that took advantage of opportunities to drop off their resume and interact with agency representatives in virtual booths, attend educational webinars that taught attendees how to get ahead in government, and engage in live chats with government career experts.
At the center of this event stood my colleague Amy DeWolf, who has planned and managed dozens of training events for us and had a birds-eye view of our virtual career fair. I asked her to share some of her insights for prospective virtual career fair participants based on her unique vantage point. Below is Amy's advice:
- It sounds simple but test your computer and have your resume (or multiple resumes) ready to upload and share with recruiters. You don't want to waste time logging in or updating your resume when you could be talking to recruiters and gathering information.
- Know which organizations are going to be there and do your research ahead of time. The best way to impress agency representatives is to ask thoughtful questions, not the basics (i.e. What positions are available).
- Check your social media sites. Given the nature of the internet, recruiters can quickly search for your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles while talking to you. Privacy settings are your friend.
2. What are the people in the booths looking for based on your interactions with them in advance? How do you stand out from the crowd?
- Be enthusiastic. The best way to stand out is to express sincere interest in the agency/positions and knowledge of the organization. Be sure to share this with agency reps!
- Be responsive. Recruiters are busy and with the expected number of participants, they may have a hard time responding to everyone. To grab (and keep) their attention respond in a timely manner to chats, and be clear and concise in your questions and answers.
- Make the interaction meaningful. Stand out by asking "outside the box" questions and not standard questions where you could find answers on their website.
- Have a complete profile. Upload a photo or avatar, upload your resume, and have all your contact information listed.
3. The day of the event arrives. How can a participant ensure that they take full advantage of the many opportunities that are available - from educational sessions to live chats or booth interactions?
- Look at the schedule in advance and plan your day as you would an in-person conference.
- Prioritize agencies you want to visit first, then take advantage of other training sessions.
- Instead of reading resources during the virtual fair, download them and read agency information later.
- The most valuable part of a virtual career fair is interacting with agency reps - make time for direct engagement with agencies.
4. Are there any other tips or tricks that you learned as you observed the activities of the participants? Any do's (or don'ts!) that you'd recommend?
- Remember that you are chatting with agency representatives (people in control of your future!) and not your best friend on g-chat. Don't use abbreviations or slang and be sure to check your spelling.
- Upload your resume (can't stress this enough)!
- If agency reps are taking a few minutes to respond to your question, don't keep messaging the recruiters. They see your message and will respond to you when they can.
- Network! This is the perfect time to talk with people in your field. You can learn a lot from your peers and should network in the group chats. Take advantage of the"who's here" functionality in virtual shows.
- Plan to spend more than an hour in the virtual show. Between the educational components (when applicable) and the time with agency reps, you'd be surprised how quickly the time flies by!
Have you attended a virtual career fair?
What advice would you add based on your experience?
*** RELATED GOVLOOP CAREER RESOURCES ***
- 30 Ways to Use Social Media to Advance Your Government Career
- GovLoop Government Career Center
- Guide to Getting Into Government (for High Achievers)
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