Looking for a job is rarely easy. Trying to find one in the middle of a global pandemic with a high unemployment rate might seem impossible.
One option that can help job seekers connect with employers when they can't meet face-to-face is a virtual job fair. These events — which can be found by searching online job boards, LinkedIn or the websites of large employers, for example — give you the opportunity to meet with recruiters over the internet and participate in webinars that help you learn about how to build skills that can help you land a job.
One opportunity happens this week. At 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Sept. 30, AARP will host an online career expo, “Navigating the Job Market During Times of Uncertainty.” With such widespread job losses over the past six months, many older adults are desperately seeking employment. According to the Pew Research Center, roughly half of those who lost jobs during the pandemic were still unemployed by mid-August. The survey found that 41 percent of adults age 50 and older say that either they or someone in their household had lost a job due to the pandemic.
The massive job losses, a widespread shift to working from home and the risks essential workers have to navigate mean that people looking for jobs will have to learn some new techniques.
Register for AARP's Online Career Expo
Join us for the AARP Online Career Expo, Navigating the Job Market During Times of Uncertainty. The Expo starts at 1 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, September 30. This event is free and can be accessed via smartphone, tablet or computer.
"The expo is a great opportunity to learn strategies and skills to compete in today's job market, with webinars and other programming covering topics such as optimizing your resume, building confidence and resilience, and answering tough interview questions,” says Heather Tinsley-Fix, AARP senior advisor for financial resilience. “It's also a great way to network with other job seekers, connect with employers who are hiring and ask questions during any of the eight expert chats."
There will be 79 employers participating in AARP's expo, including Macy's, Giant Eagle and Easterseals New Hampshire. The event is free and can be accessed by phone, tablet or computer.
To make the best impression on recruiters during an online job fair, it's best to do some prep work before you log in to the event. Here are five tips to help you get ready for a virtual job fair.
1. Get your résumé ready for recruiters
In recent years, it has become common practice to customize your résumé for each job you apply for. That way you can make certain that your résumé includes many of the same keywords that appear in the job posting, which can help you get noticed by the software that does the initial search for the most qualified candidates. For an online job fair, unless you're only looking for a specific type of job opening, you may want to consider using a résumé that describes your job skills and work experience more broadly. That could open doors with more of the recruiters who are participating. Learn more about some quick fixes you might make to your résumé.
2. Polish up your social media profiles
First impressions often make a big difference in who gets hired. While your résumé might be the initial contact you make with recruiters at an online job fair, many of them will quickly move to social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram to get a better sense of your background and personality. Before the job fair, take some time to update your LinkedIn profile, making sure that it includes any new professional achievements. Also, be sure to review your other social media accounts to edit or remove any posts that include content that might make an employer hesitant to hire — suggestive photos, heated personal arguments or political opinions, for example.
3. Make sure your Wi-Fi is ready
Don't let technical difficulties get in the way of successful job networking. In most cases, you won't be able to log in to the job fair before it starts. That means you can't make sure the software works well on your phone, tablet or computer in advance. But you can check that your wireless internet speed is maximized before the job fair. The FCC recently offered these tips for improving your Wi-Fi connection.
4. Be ready to be on camera
Most of the communication during an online job fair happens via text chats. But if a recruiter thinks you might be a good fit, he or she might ask you to do a quick video interview on the spot. While you don't need to dress up in your best business attire for the job fair, you should be certain that you're camera-ready if an employer asks. Looking for tips on how to ace a video job interview? This article has some advice.
5. Follow through on follow-up
The strength of online fairs is that they let job seekers meet with many recruiters quickly. But those recruiters also will have many candidates that they have to keep in mind. Sending a thank you note or follow-up email is one way you show an employer that you're serious about the job opportunity. Remind the recruiters of details from your discussions, highlight your skills and experience that fit the job opening and ask about any potential next steps.