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Virtual Fairs
Widen the job search through online recruiting platforms

By Dan Gomez-Palacio
Director of the Grossnickle Career Services Center
Published Winter 2018-19, Affinity magazine

One of the most successful strategies in a job search is to attend local job or graduateschool fairs. They offer a chance to meet recruiters one-on-one, make a positive first impression and discover new employment opportunities. However, many people do not have the time to attend an event in the middle of the workday, or they may live in an area that doesn’t offer a local fair. The good news is that there is a fastgrowing number of virtual job and graduate-school fairs popping up all over the country.

What is a virtual career fair?
Generally, an employer or graduate-school representative will host an online fair through a virtual environment that includes webinars, video and chat features. Many virtual fairs are designed for targeted candidates, such as veterans, or a particular area of study. Others are focused on a geographic region. The vast majority of these events are free of charge. Columbia College alumni and students can find a list of virtual fairs on Handshake ( under the “Events” tab. Virtual fairs are also advertised publicly on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

How does a virtual fair work?
Much of the information at a virtual fair can be explored at the attendee’s pace. However, it’s important to be ready to communicate with recruiters professionally. The organizer will typically list the participating employers and available job opportunities ahead of time. Attendees should familiarize themselves with the companies’ missions and read job descriptions thoroughly. Come prepared to ask informed questions and showcase enthusiasm!

Perhaps the most important factor for a virtual career fair is to make sure there is a secure and steady internet connection in a distractionfree environment. If the fair involves video or audio, be sure to be set up and dressed appropriately.

Like a non-virtual career fair, attendees will be asked to sign-in and upload a résumé. Recruiters have the ability to review candidates in real time and even connect to ask questions based on personal skills and experience. Attendees should be prepared with an effective and efficient pitch to set them apart. It may be tempting since it’s online to act casually, but recruiters take the process seriously and attendees need to match that professionalism.

Overall, virtual fairs can be an excellent way to expand the job market. For assistance, contact the Grossnickle Career Services Center at

Career counseling, networking and resumé assistance are available free of charge to all students and alumni through the Grossnickle Career Services Center. To get started, contact (800) 231-2391 ext. 7425 or visit