LSE Careers recently hosted our very first virtual career fair (VCF). Almost 1000 students attended and feedback from the Consultancy, banking and financial services fair was overwhelmingly positive.
Over the coming weeks, law firms and public sector organisations will descend into our virtual recruitment halls and set up their booths complete with company information, video links and online graduate brochure! But how can you, whether an active job hunter or curious explorer, really make the most of these virtual events?
VCFs are new to us all so our first was a valuable learning experience for our employers, student attendees and ourselves! Based on our experience of looking at feedback, talking to students and employers and visiting the fair ourselves, here are a few more tips, insights and FAQs we thought it worth sharing to really help you make the most of these virtual recruitment events.
When can I log on to LSE’s careers fair platform?
All our careers fairs are taking place on the Graduateland platform. After registering for a fair on CareerHub, you’ll then be able to access the platform in advance of the fair. This should give you plenty of time to complete your online profile and use the time prior to the fair as an opportunity to research the organisations as and when they upload the stand content. You won’t be able to chat to organisations until the fair opens though.
I’ve not visited a VCF before. How difficult are they to navigate?
Many students and employers are in the same boat. It’s a new experience for all of us! What we would say is that our platform is pretty intuitive and easy to find your way around. It’s still a good idea to complete your profile ahead of time, have a look at the employer profiles and get a feel for it though. That way you’ll be able to make the most of time the VCF is open.
How useful are these events if you’re not job hunting but wanting to find out more about companies, areas of work and career pathways?
Just like a physical careers fair, a VCF is not just about vacancies but also gives you the opportunity to engage with a range of people working in the business. Even if you don’t want to chat directly about a job, employer stands generally offer a range of conversation starters including finding out more about an organisation’s culture. Many companies invite recent graduates to their booths to chat to students. You can then use these insights to help you think about career options and maybe at a later stage even use them to inform any applications you do decide to make.
But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s some student feedback from our last VCF.
“At the virtual careers fair, I had the unique opportunity of having one to one interactions with professionals I would not usually have access to… The interactions with both of them were extremely useful as they were very hospitable and more than happy to answer all my questions. In particular from the conversations I now have a better idea of the exact sector I would like to pursue in Finance. I feel as though the experience I had is more personal than an in-person careers fair as you can have direct interactions with professionals where there are no distractions so you can have more of an insightful conversation.”
Do I need to plan my visit?
To get the most out of any careers fair, whether you are looking to have specific conversations or to rather see what the different companies have to offer, it’s a good idea to have done a bit of research into who is there. That way you will be able to maximise the online time you have to talk with people from the companies. Having said that, there is also time to browse, look at stands and company profiles and follow your interests. You never know where a conversation might take you!
How important is my profile?
If you are actively job-hunting then your profile is very important. Treat it a bit like a job application and be as comprehensive as possible. Make sure there are no mistakes! Not only does your profile (including biographical data, skills, headline and summary) pull up opportunities that might be a good match (great if you’re a job hunter), they’re also used by employers to filter and identify talent.
If you’re browsing the VCF to find out more about organisations and what they do, then your profile isn’t as important. Completing some of the fields might be helpful though in that it would give you some starting points for conversations with organisations that initially look to match your skills and interests.
There’s a CV upload option. How do employers use these?
Talking to employers, they like the CV upload option. It gives them the opportunity to gather data and find out more about you pre-fair or for any post-fair follow-ups. A CV isn’t mandatory though. Get feedback or run it through CareerSet. Only upload your CV if you’re 100% happy with it. It really needs to be a good representation of your skills and strengths. Remember you can always share a targeted CV after the event in any follow-ups or when applying for a specific role.
Do I need to upload a video introducing myself?
Many VCF platforms offer this option (as does LinkedIn) but from our experience and from talking to employers, videos are not typically looked at in this type of fair format. Your profile is what’s really important.
How can you connect with employers?
VCFs offer the opportunity to communicate with employers in different ways. As a visitor you can initiate text chats with an employer. Employers have the option to chat via text or video chat. From our experience, most communication tends to be via text. It’s more efficient and enables company representatives to have multiple conversations concurrently.
Employers would generally only invite you for a video chat after some initial contact or even after the fair. Having said that if you are having an interesting chat via text and would like to chat via video, why not ask them? It’s always a good idea to be prepared for a video conversation so no PJs!
How does the chat function work in practice?
From our experience, students and organisations use the chat functions in different ways. We’d actively encourage students to initiate a conversation via chat. Don’t forget though, this isn’t like instant messaging or replying to a friend on WhatsApp. Company representatives may be having several conversations concurrently and operating a ‘queuing system’. Don’t worry if you don’t get an immediate reply or think the employer is ignoring you! Be patient, they’ll get back to you in turn. In the meantime, take the opportunity to visit other stands. You’ll get an alert when they reply.
I’ve heard you can book an ‘interview’ slot. How does this work?
Organisations have the option to pre-schedule specific times for chats – known as ‘interview slots’. Some will have slots available at the fair and others will schedule afterwards. It’s up to them. If there’s interview slots available on the day of the fair, you’ll be able to see these when you log on to the platform and book a time in advance.
What happens after the VCF?
The LSE VCFs remain open for up to 72 hours after the main event has finished. This gives employers time to follow up any interesting conversations and schedule interviews. We know quite a few students who had follow up video conversations with recruiters after the fair so remember to check your emails!
Good luck with all your virtual engagement this term. The LSE Careers team has a stand at both the Public Sector and Law VCFs so do drop by with any questions you have. Remember that LSE Careers is here to help you every step of the way.