A young woman on a video call with two other women

Whether you’re looking for an internship or a job after graduation, career fairs and events are a great way to make progress in your search. These events allow you to connect with employers who are hiring right now, and there are steps you can take before, during and after the fair to help you make a great first impression. Here are some tips for making the most of the virtual career events taking place this semester.

Do your research

First, log in to your Handshake account to view details for upcoming career fairs. Then, review the list of employers who will be attending and make a list of who you’d like to speak with at the fair. You’ll want to set up a schedule for the fair as soon as possible with employers who will be attending (either one-on-one appointments or group sessions). Setting your schedule early allows you to take advantage of the best time options and have enough time to familiarize yourself with the employer’s products and services. Don’t have a Handshake account yet? Learn how to set up your free account.

New employers are added daily to the list, so regularly check the Handshake career fair page to see who will be attending each event.

Update your resume and Handshake profile

Make sure you have a resume that highlights your skills, abilities and experience. If there are specific employers that you are scheduled to chat with during the virtual career fair, make a variation of your resume that is tailored to each employer. Review these tips for creating a memorable resume.

Students with completed Handshake profiles have a better chance of meeting one-on-one with employers at virtual careers fairs. Review these steps for setting up your Handshake profile. Once you have that updated, make sure your profile details, particularly your qualifications and GPA, are on the public setting for employers to see.

Schedule time to chat virtually with employers at the fair

Once you have your list of employers you’d like to connect with at the fair, your next step is to sign up for sessions to connect with employers through Handshake. One-on-one appointments are available on a first-come, first-served basis, or you can choose to be in a group session. Learn more about signing up for sessions in our Virtual Career Fair Prep guide in our Resource Library. Questions? Ask a career development advisor through LiveChat on the Career Services website.

Practice your elevator pitch

Practice introducing yourself with your elevator pitch. Start by sharing your name, year in school and major or area of interest. Talk about the positions you’re interested in, and some relevant skills or experiences. Get more tips to help you prepare your pitch.

Make a list of questions

Prepare two or three questions to ask each employer. These should be related to the company or positions you’re interested in. As part of your research before the event, make sure your questions are insightful and not easily answered by looking at their website. Here are some sample questions that might be good to ask:

  • “How did your degree help you prepare for the position you are in now?”
  • “I read that your company just started a project doing _______. What opportunities would an intern/new team member have in this project?”
  • “What do you like most about your job and working for _______?”
  • “I am interested in following up with you about your job opening. Could you tell me the next steps in the process? And could you give me your email address so that I can follow up with you in a few days?”

Get organized

Instructions for how to connect with each employer at the virtual fair will be in their schedules, and will be emailed to you prior to your scheduled chat. If you’re using a virtual program to connect with the employer, like Zoom or Skype, test it before your scheduled time.

Whether you have a video chat or a phone call scheduled, dress professionally. Dressing up can put you in a better mindset for the virtual fair and help you make a good first impression if you’re on camera. Additionally, be mindful of your background if you have a video chat scheduled with an employer.

Have a notebook and pen nearby as well. After speaking with employers, write down a few things that you discussed. Take note of what you liked or didn’t like about the company. You’ll want to reference these notes later to recall the conversation if you’re asked to schedule an interview.

Follow up

If you received contact information from a company representative, send them an email following your conversation. Reintroduce yourself (they will chat with many students at the fair) and thank them for their time. Use your notes to recall something that you discussed or enjoyed about the conversation, and let them know you’re interested in moving to the next step in the process.

For more tips to help you prepare for career fairs, check out weekly virtual programs and workshops from Career Services. These free workshops will share best practices for resumes, making progress in your search (especially during challenging times) and more.