What to Expect and How to Prepare for a Virtual Hiring Session
If you have previously attended a Hiring Fair in person, you are probably familiar with the energy of the auditorium and the process of the event. There is registration, door prizes, and a variety of employer booths down each aisle. Before you attended, you researched the list of businesses participating and printed off a fresh stack of resumes. On the day of the Hiring Fair, you planned your outfit, practiced smiling, shaking hands, making eye contact and introducing yourself – all at the same time! At the Fair, you found the booths of the employers you wanted to introduce yourself to and asked your practiced questions about their business and the available employment opportunities. If things went well, you provided your resume, shook hands (eye contact again), and thanked the employer for their time before moving along to the next booth.
So, what should you expect and prepare for with a VIRTUAL event? Surprisingly, the preparation and your interaction with employers during the event will be remarkably similar. Here are a few tips to get you prepped and ready to thrive at our 2021 Mini Virtual Hiring Sessions.
What to expect – An Overview: The 2021 Virtual Hiring Sessions will be mini events (75 minutes) on ZOOM so you can attend from anywhere. Each session will feature four employers and you will network within a small group (using Zoom’s Breakout Room Feature) for about 15 minutes with each of the four employers you have signed up for in advance. During each breakout session, the employer will give a presentation on the types of jobs they are hiring for and about their company followed by a “Q&A” period. Each employer will close off their mini session with instructions for how they would like participants to apply.
If you would like some additional coaching with how to use breakout rooms, the chat feature, and controlling your video and audio settings on Zoom you can sign up for one of our “How to Prepare for a Virtual Hiring Session” workshops happening weekly throughout the month of March.
Before the Virtual Hiring Session:
Get Registered – Each participant must preregister as an attendee and we do encourage you to complete this step ASAP. Please call 250.248.3205 to book your spot! By registering early you will have the best opportunity to take advantage of our Job Readiness workshops in advance of the Mini Hiring Sessions. Once you have registered, you will receive an email a few days before each session so you have an opportunity to select your chosen employers.
Prepare your Resume – Is your resume up to date? Is it formatted appropriately? Have you proofed it and proofed it again? (Pro Tip: read your resume from bottom to top and backwards to spot spelling errors that your mind automatically sees as correct.) Is it saved as a PDF so the formatting isn’t change when you submit it?
Social Media Clean Up – Do you have a LinkedIn account? Is it current? Have you indicated you are job seeking within your account settings? What other social media accounts do you have? What story is social media telling about you when someone looks you up? (Employers do look!)
Practice your Pitch – You will have an opportunity to introduce yourself to the employer in each Breakout Room you attend, and we want you to be ready. Some people really benefit from practicing introducing themselves as well as their answers to some potential questions such as: “What interests you about working for our company? What type of work do you feel you are suited for? Which of your current skills do you feel would be transferable to the type of work we are hiring for?” You can practice in front of a mirror or, better yet, log on to Zoom and practice with a friend/family member a few days before your sessions.
Technology – Ready Set Go! – Check your audio speaker and microphone level before the session starts. You may opt to attend the opening session and any of the full group sessions with your video camera off as all participants will be able to view who is attending during this time. Remember, the Hiring Sessions are considered a public space. However, in order to make a stronger connection with potential employers, we strongly recommend VIDEO ON and your full first and last name being displayed during the breakout room sessions as this will demonstrate your sincere interest and level of engagement. Also, we recommend using a desktop, laptop or propped-up tablet or phone rather than holding your phone, so the image is not shaking and difficult for the employer to view when you are speaking. You may also want headphones if you cannot attend from a quiet, private location.
Research participating organizations – After registering, take some time to review our website for a list of the organizations attending each Hiring Session. The employer list on our website will be updated as employers confirm so be sure to check back often. Be prepared—learn about the companies and think of questions you will want to ask. To stand out from the crowd, you will want to know a little bit about the companies and positions available.
During the Virtual Hiring Session:
So how do you stand out online when everyone appears as the same little square on a screen?
Be Prompt – Log in before the session start time. Give yourself a few minutes in advance to check your audio, your lighting and have a sip of water. Be relaxed – but don’t be late.
Wear a professional outfit – Make the most out of this opportunity by looking professional and presentable. Dress like you have the job. Some people think it’s ok to wear yoga pants or shorts because the camera is not showing your full image – however we recommend dressing like you are walking into their office as this can help build your confidence.
Distraction-free environment – You’re dressed up, your resume is spectacular, so make sure your background reflects the same attention to detail. Be sure the camera is not picking up an empty pizza box or a pile of dirty dishes. What is the background noise level of your space? Also check the lighting. You might need to close the blinds of a window behind you so the employers can see you.
If the chat option is available –Avoid text lingo, slang or emoticons as these are not appropriate in a business setting. Be clear and read it over before you hit send.
Eye contact and body language – 70-93% of communication is conveyed via our body language. Sitting with your arms crossed or not making eye contact can easily be misunderstood, making others believe you are not interested. Speak clearly, sit up straight, avoid “talking with your hands” on camera, and maintain eye contact to show a prospective employer you are interested in their employment opportunities.
Submitting your Resume – After the employer’s presentation and the Q&A, attendees will be provided instructions from each employer as to how they would like to receive your application. Follow the instructions given as a way of demonstrating your acknowledgement for the requested process.
(Pro Tip: One question to ask during the Q&A is “How would you like attendees of today’s session to stay in touch after submitting an application?” Everyone is thinking this question so it’s ok to ask the employer what they prefer. They will likely provide an email or phone number you can contact, or they may suggest social media.)
After the Session – The next day, send a brief note to each employer you met thanking them for their time. Be sure to include something that will remind them about why you’re a promising candidate, why you’re interested in their company and the skills and/or experience you bring to the table.
The 2021 Mini Virtual Hiring Sessions will be held on most Tuesdays and Thursdays during the month of April and will kick off with Island Health, our regions largest employer on March 24th. Check out our Calendar of Events for dates and times so you are well prepared to zoom your way to your next job!