Remote work and virtual events are becoming the new normal. Job searching can also look different these days. So, we need to know how to adapt to the new process. Let’s talk about virtual career events in particular – and how you can make the most of them when exploring your next career move.
Career events may sound overwhelming, but they’re so incredibly helpful. You can make connections with employers and learn more about organizations that are attending. My first job in tech resulted from a career fair!
There are countless benefits to attending career events: you get to learn more about career opportunities at different companies, network and connect with teams that you might be interested in working in and get your foot in the door by making a good impression on a recruiter.
I’ve also participated in a bunch of women-specific events in tech and they’ve always had amazing energy. All of them shared a ton of value, helping female candidates find a great fit for what they’re looking for in terms of their next career move, company culture, etc. Networking at those types of events has been the most fun: because the women that attend have a growth mindset and want to help each other.
Virtual career events have replaced in-person events for the time being. The concept can be confusing at first sight. How can you get the same benefits from these types of events and make the most of them? It’s time to talk about that!
Before the events:
- Block time on your calendar for the event – so that you don’t have any overlaps and can be fully present at the event.
- Find a quiet space with a neutral background – to make sure you will not be disturbed and so that you look professional. For example, if you’ll be taking your call from your bedroom, test turning your camera so that your bed isn’t in the frame.
- Pick out your outfit ahead of time – you don’t have to wear a suit, but you should look professional. Smart casual is the way to go!
- Understand what roles or skills you’re interested in – if you don’t know already, do some reflection and research.
- Prepare a pitch – being able to tell a compelling story about yourself is always helpful. Practice a short speech introducing yourself, communicating your story and your why.
- Update your Resume – be prepared in case if an employer looks you up during or after the event. Some career events ask you to upload your resume when you register. Make sure that one is up to date because employers might look at them even before the event starts!
- Do research on the companies attending to have a better understanding of the opportunities this career event might bring and be able to have better conversations with their employees and recruiters. It will also allow you to prepare questions for them in advance. Write those down and bring your notes to the event.
- Familiarize yourself with the event schedule – if there is one so that you know what to expect and when you will have the opportunity to talk to employers or network.
- Set goals for the career event – if you don’t know what you’re aiming for, it’s harder to measure success. Your goals may look like “Talk to employer X” or “Set up virtual coffee with five new people”. Set them and write them down.
- Block time on your calendar for follow-ups – ideally, you’d want to follow up within 24-48 hours after the event. So block time off on your calendar to ensure that you have time to do it.
- Test the technology – from your internet speed to creating an account with the platform that the account is being hosted through.
- Prepare your notebook and anything else you might need – I recommend taking notes during the event, so prepare a pen and a notebook ahead of time. Place them on the right side of your laptop to take notes easily. For example, if you’re left-handed, place it on your left and if you’re right-handed on your right. This way you can be more discreet about note-taking!
During the event:
- Be on time – because you’re blocked time off on your calendar and it’s a simple way to get more value out of the event because you know what’s going on and it communicates your interest and commitment.
- Turn your notifications on “do not disturb” – to eliminate distractions and random sounds. You don’t want your phone to start ringing while you’re talking to a recruiter at your dream company.
- Stay engaged and use active listening skills – it’s easier to drift off and event start multitasking when you’re attending an online event. Resist the temptation. You will get more from the event and connect more meaningfully.
- Ask companies questions and take notes – it may be the questions that you’ve prepared ahead of time or new questions that pop up during the event. Take notes on the answers and in general on the conversations you have. This way it will be easier to follow up after the event.
- Connect on a personal level – yes, it’s a professional event, but we are all human and are all craving a connection. Talk about their day/life and ask them questions. Everyone is experiencing these weird times and is coping with the new normal in their own way.
- Find out the next steps and contact information – figure out your next steps. This might be filling out a job application or something else. Will you schedule a virtual coffee with this person? Also, make sure that you write down this person’s contact information.
- Follow up – with thank you messages or next steps like scheduling a time to connect. Include a brief re-introduction, what you’ve discussed and a connection point if you had one. You may have both picked up the same hobby during quarantine, or the person told you about their pet . Ask how they are doing. This will help them remember the conversation and the connection you’ve had. That’s why we took notes – to remember these things.
- Nurture the relationships you’ve built – because connecting is one thing, but staying on top of what’s happening in your network and maintaining those relationships brings the most value. You never know what they can lead to.
- Watch out for more events – for more connections, opportunities and so on. They’re an amazing way to meet new people, discover companies you’d like to work for and learn more about roles that may be interesting for you.
Let me know in the comments if those tips were useful and if you’d add anything else! Share this post with a friend or family member who is looking for a job. We can also be friends on other social media–you can find me as Coding Blonde.