How this Pandemic is Affecting Job Search #Get Hired

The workplace trends that we have experienced for the past decade have been greatly affected due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the past few months, I have observed that Covid-19 has made us rethink, reimagine, and re-write the rules of the workplace to incorporate changes in how, when, and where we work. Some of the trends include permanent remote work, emphasis on virtual learning, and the changing face of office space. Covid-19 has not only transformed the employee experience, but also the candidate hiring experience. And despite the fact that companies are laying off people, there are many other companies who are still looking to fill positions, but virtually and from a distance.

How Companies and Candidates are finding each other

Though it may look like the job search and hiring process has changed, I don’t think much has changed except advances in technology and the abundance of options. According to an article by Dan Schawbel, 69 % of job seekers rely on job boards compared to fewer than one-third that use professional connections. What has changed is that recent college graduates have dismissed job boards in favor of job searching on Google and LinkedIn (64%) followed by company career pages (57%) and career fairs (57%). And actually, it makes sense because young people are trying to find jobs on the platforms they are already using in their personal lives or find more innovative. But, without job or career fairs, and in-person networking events, there’s a remote-only job search environment right now.

How do virtual job and career fairs work?

Let me start with how virtual job fair works? Of course, it is difficult to picture how an in-person event can be translated into an online setting. But in general, virtual job and career fairs differ depending on the organization hosting the event and if they use an online conference/fair software.

Chances are one virtual fair may just be an online list of employers who are hiring that link to a virtual booth explaining what it does and what type of talent it needs to hire. While, another fair may use a platform that actually allows you to “drop-in” on virtual booths to see if a representative from that company has a moment to chat via video. This may vary widely.

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Based on company & profile, one should be able to tell what the experience will be like when you registering for the job event. Virtual fairs that offer drop-in chats with recruiters and an experience closer to an in-person event will often be a more complex registration process and allow you to schedule meeting times with employers in advance of the fair.

What is it like to attend a virtual job fair?

Just as the virtual job fairs differ from one to another, so will your experiences depending on a number of factors.

“I attended one a few weeks ago and it was an interesting experience,” wrote Jason B. While he said the event was well organized, not all of the employers were as helpful. “Some employers were very active in the chat rooms and did their best to try and make one feel a part of the conversation. Others were very ‘in the box’ and only answered yes or no questions. Most of them also would just act as an intermediary to say, ‘Please visit our website for opportunities.’”

Similarly, Megan W. said she ran into issues with employers attending the virtual fair. “It seemed limited in the number of vendors who were still present and most were not actually online available for chatting,” she said.

Tiziana S. said some employers at virtual fairs want to connect while others aren’t as proactive about meeting candidates’ needs.

“Once I had some technical problems, which prevented me from having a successful interaction with a recruiter in the allocated time, which was very short,” she said. “On another occasion, the recruiter took the time to call me back and discuss the role. In a way, I miss the hustle and bustle of face-to-face job fairs…”

What can you do to set yourself up for success at a virtual fair?

Regardless of the wide variations in experiences at a virtual fair, you should still go into virtual job and career fairs hoping to get as much out of the experience as possible. Though my advice is you should do some preparation ahead of the fair. Get to know the companies attending the job fair and ensure they are looking for candidates in your area.

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Preparing for the virtual job fairs will prepare you for the long run and help you if an employer unexpectedly starts interviewing you during your chat. While it may not be the norm, any interaction with a possible employer is important.

In any case, you can use virtual fairs as fact-finding missions to help you with your search. If one of your target companies is attending, you can create a connection with the recruiter or representatives to follow-up with later on for a more personal experience. Additionally, you may be able to find out information about what they’re looking for, company culture, and other facts that would be useful to know when applying for roles.

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