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A graduate student's guide to a great career fair

Team Prosple

Graduate students gain leverage with their applications by knowing the ins and outs of a virtual career fair. A checklist comes in handy for this purpose.

Every graduate student should know how difficult it is to land a job, let alone score an interview, at their desired employer in their chosen industry.

The odds of a successful application become slimmer in light of the covid-19 pandemic... 

Fortunately, though, the circumstances have led employers to consider a virtual career fair. These offer the perfect chance to get yourself in front of the best employers. To make the most out of these events, we’ve made a checklist that you can follow to ensure you’re an impressive candidate. 

What is a virtual career fair?

The career fair, graduate career fair, or virtual career fair—whatever it’s called, these are events organised by employers and recruiters to meet with potential employees. Virtual career fairs allow people to:

  • Connect with recruiters and top employers
  • learn more about your chosen employer (for example, their work culture); and
  • participate in Q&A sessions and webinars.

Here’s a key takeaway from a virtual career fair checklist: every exhibitor wants to hire someone. With this in mind, you should focus on becoming the most suitable person for the role.


The checklist: What to do before, during, and after the event to become a star candidate 

1. Make a list of the employers you want to work for and events you want to attend

Make the most out of a virtual career fair by shortlisting exhibitor profiles and events. You don’t need to meet with every participating employer, so focus on organisations that interest you the most.

Many employers have profiles as well that provide authentic looks into life at their company through day-in-the-life stories. We rank the Top 100 Graduate Employers yearly too if you are interested to learn more about the best companies in the country for graduates.

Also, decide what booths you want to attend. Employers will post their agendas on the event page which lets you see what kind of events they are hosting. There are Q&A sessions, speed interviews, webinars and more. So take the time to plan what you want to get out of the fair and then go to those booths. Obviously, one-on-one time with recruiters will give you the best chance to stand out but don’t underestimate the value of group activities either. In a Q&A, the company will basically tell you exactly who they are looking for and how to get hired.

Once you’re done with a shortlist, update your credentials and CV. It’s best to create a profile to access premium features for free. Once you sign up, you’ll get:

  • personalised alerts for work opportunities
  • updated advice like career fair planning for students; and
  • your own dashboard to keep track of applications.

2. Present yourself 

Dress to impress! Commit to professional attire from head to toe. While it’s true that employers will only see your face, a confident demeanour shows even better when you put on a polished outfit. That’s not something you can achieve with a pair of sweatpants.

Choose a neutral background (real or virtual) with as few distractions as possible. You want the employer to focus on you and not wander through a myriad of things behind you. Check out this instructional video on how to look good on a webcam.

Think of a few talking points as you go along through every interaction with employers. Recruiters can see through rehearsed lines, so spontaneous yet well-thought-out pitches demonstrate an ability to adapt to any situation.

Pick up on non-verbal cues on when to ask questions, which usually happen towards the end of a meeting. Don’t forget to look directly at the camera’s lens from time to time. This is equivalent to maintaining eye contact.

3. Follow up with a thank-you email

It’s good to send a thank-you note to each recruiter that you met during the virtual career fair. Go the extra mile for people with whom you shared the most memorable discussions.

This point is vital. By reaching out to the people you interacted with, you make yourself seem like a communicative, ambitious candidate with initiative - three of the most desirable traits for employers. 

Also, almost nobody does this. If you have a fantastic meeting with an employer during a fair but don’t follow up, there’s a strong chance they will forget you amidst the sea of people they spoke to at the fair. Whereas if you take five minutes to reach out and thank a recruiter, you differentiate yourself from the hundreds of others they spoke to that day, making yourself a much more attractive candidate. 

Career fair planning for students is greatly aided by a virtual career fair checklist.

You need to set certain goals like what you want to get out of attending a virtual career fair. The checklist might be a bit much at first, but it will be easy over time as you become familiar with the process.

Interested in getting first dibs for career opportunities at top employers? Sign up now to stay updated on upcoming virtual career fairs!