How to Navigate a Virtual Career Fair

Virtual career fairs can help you expand your job and internship search while allowing you to meet multiple organizations that are actively hiring from the comfort of your computer. All UVA Career Fairs will take place virtually on Handshake

A virtual format will enhance the experience, allowing you to:

  • Meet with employers. Interact with recruiters through video, audio, or chat.
  • Discover new career opportunities. Get personalized recommendations based on your Handshake profile for which employers to connect with.
  • Never wait in line, ever. Pre-scheduled 1:1 or group sessions with employers ahead of the fair or on the day-of.
  • Make an impression. Bring your unique perspective to the table, ask great questions, and follow up with recruiters after the fair.

Below is everything you need to know to prepare for a virtual career fair!  


Before the Fair 

Develop a Strong Resume

Make sure to create a professional resume and have it reviewed by a career counselor. We offer both drop-in and one-on-one appointments to help with application materials.  Want instant feedback on your resume? VMock is a 24-7 online resume review tool, that leverages data science, machine learning, and natural language processing to provide instant personalized feedback. 

Upload your resume to any relevant resume books before the fair. Students will receive an email prior to the upcoming fair about upcoming resume book deadlines. 

Update Your Handshake Profile 

The first step in preparing for virtual fairs is to make sure your Handshake profile is complete and up-to-date. Your Handshake profile helps you get personalized recommendations for upcoming virtual events. Plus, recruiters use profile fields to find students to invite to their sessions. Don’t let an incomplete or out-of-date profile keep you from getting discovered by recruiters.

  • Check that the basics are accurate: graduation date, school year, major, GPA, and work authorization. 
  • Select the job types, locations, and roles that interest you, so recruiters know which jobs and internships are a good fit for you.
  • Add your courses, skills, and any previous work experience.

Check your profile privacy settings. Your profile must be set to visible to employers to participate in 1:1 sessions and visible to the Handshake community to join group sessions. Learn more about profile privacy settings here.

Review & Research Employers 

Make a list of the employers you’d like to speak with and familiarize yourself with their goals, products, services, and view any openings they might have listed at this time by viewing their website. You can also check their social media accounts for other valuable information about the company culture. You can find this list in Handshake under “Fairs” from there, you can click through to each employer’s Handshake page to learn more about them and read reviews from other students. 

Review which employers are having group sessions and sign-up for one-on-one sessions with employers you are most interested in. Be sure to sign up early for sessions with the employers you like so you’re guaranteed a spot. New employers are added daily to the list, so regularly check the Handshake career fair page often to see who will be attending.

Virtual Career Fair Registration & Tips for Success - UVA Career Center 

Get the Most out of Your Virtual Fair - Handshake's Video Overview

 

 

Technology 

Get your space ready – ensure you have a good internet connection in a quiet room without distractions! It may be helpful to test your connection, camera, and microphone prior. Ensure you have a professional or blank background – blank backgrounds are best; you can also find UVA Zoom backgrounds available here.

Under Zoom’s settings, click on the “Video” tab to ensure your HD option and touch-up feature are checked. However, if you have an internet connection that is a bit slower, these may impact your processing power.

View Handshake's Video Requirements & Troubleshooting page for more information on what their platform needs in order to run smoothly. 

On the day of the virtual fair, you'll be able to join sessions via the Your Sessions tab in the fair. Note: You must be signed up for the session at least one minute prior to the session start in order to join.

Joining Sessions

1. Navigate to the fair in Handshake and click on the Your sessions tab.

2. Click the blue Launch Video button in order to join the session. You can join up to five minutes early to test your audio and video connection.

3. You'll need to make sure you've allowed microphone and video access in your app or browser in order to participate in audio and video. 

Please refer to Handshake Video Requirements & Troubleshooting for additional information to ensure a smooth audio and video experience!  Please Note: In group sessions with more than 15 participants, we will automatically disable participant audio and video to preserve session quality.

4. Use the three dots menu icon or the word Settings to access meeting settings: 

  • Audio settings
  • Video settings
  • Report a problem

Leaving a Session

Sessions will end automatically 20 minutes after the scheduled end time, to allow for additional conversation. Participants may leave a session and rejoin, but may only be connected to a session via one device. 

When the session ends, a prompt will appear asking for quality-related feedback, which uses a 5-star rating system and a text box for additional details. 

Logistics 

Wear an entire outfit, from the top of your head to your shoes, even if employers will only see your top half. Wear business casual attire (ex. suit, nice shirt & tie, blouse, skirt, or nice pants).

Prepare your "30-second Pitch"

Knowing more about your personal interests, motivations, and abilities will be helpful for you to begin connecting with others to market your unique strengths. Your pitch can be a great tool to develop responses to “Tell me about yourself” or “Walk me through your resume.” Remember, this pitch is used to get the conversation started, so don’t stress about memorizing it or covering your entire career trajectory.

To begin preparing, reflect on the following:

  • Interests (both personal and professional)
  • Past experiences
  • Transferable skills
  • Your future goals

SAMPLE PITCH

Hi, I’m [insert name], and I’m interested in creating plans to help big businesses be more sustainable.

I’m graduating in May with a major in Environmental Thought and Practice, but my study abroad trip to Costa Rica, where we assessed ways to maintain biological diversity in the face of economic development, truly deepened my commitment to sustainability.

I think my internship with the UVA Office of Sustainability and Athletics helped establish some key skills in this area as well.

Looking forward, I’m pursuing roles where I can contribute to sustainable initiatives in for-profit businesses.

Could you tell me more about the role you are recruiting for in corporate social responsibility?


During the Fair 

Technology 

Always keep yourself on mute, unless you are speaking. If possible, use headphones. It is easier to hear the employers, and the audio is much clearer for them as well. 

Virtual Fair participants are able to report technical issues and fraudulent, spam, or other inappropriate activity directly from Handshake, on the web, or the Handshake app. Learn about Reporting an Issue at a Virtual Fair

Body Language & Communication Tips 

NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION

  • Eye contact: should be open and direct when listening, asking, and responding to questions. Try looking at the camera or at least their face on video. Employers understand that you are looking at them even if your eyes are not directly to camera.
  • Facial expression: conveys sincerity, can add or detract from your words. Don’t be afraid to smile!
  • Voice tone: should be firm, warm, and relaxed.
  • Timing: it is ok to pause before and while you are answering a question.
  • Hands: should be used in a relaxed way for animation, communicating excitement, or interest. Be careful to not wave your hands too high just so they can be seen on camera. The more natural you are, the better.
  • Posture: well-balanced, upright, relaxed, facing-forward. Try not to slouch if you are sitting at your computer.

VERBAL COMMUNICATION

  • Engage in conversation by responding to employers' questions concisely, then ask your prepared questions.
  • Awkward talking at the same time will happen. That is okay! Smile or laugh it off and defer to the employer. It shows your flexibility and professional nature.
  • Offer your resume if it feels appropriate – be aware that many recruiters have online resume submissions now.
  • As you wrap up the conversation, thank the employer for their time and ask what the next step is. Be respectful that other students may be waiting behind you.

After the Fair 

View and apply to open jobs or internships. Keep the momentum going from your meetings with employers. Check out their page on Handshake to see current jobs and internships. 

If you received a business card or contact information, send them an email. Reintroduce yourself (they meet a lot of students) and thank them for their time. Send a thank-you e-mail within 1-3 days of the fair and add employers you spoke with as connection on LinkedIn. You can send an initial or additional resume in your thank-you e-mail and again, remind the employers of your strengths and interest. Remember to include your name, school, date of the meeting, and a personal touch (ex. remind them of something specific from your conversation).  Need some help getting started? View our sample thank-you notes. Also, check our upcoming events in Handshake to see if they will be on Grounds for an upcoming event to further connect. 


View Upcoming Career Fairs & Register 

Students can view upcoming career fairs and events on Handshake. To view all upcoming Career Fairs, go to 'Events' and select 'Fair Search'.  

As you prepare for the fair, it’s important that you register for employer sessions in advance. You can only attend the sessions you registered for. Check out this article to learn how to register.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register for the fair or view upcoming fairs? 

Students can view upcoming career fairs and events on Handshake. To view all upcoming Career Fairs, go to 'Events' and select 'Fair Search'.  Learn how to see which employers will be attending each fair here. As you prepare for the fair, it’s important that you register for employer sessions in advance. You can only attend the sessions you registered for. Check out this article to learn how to register.

Why should I attend a virtual career fair? 

Career fairs are a great way to get a leg up with companies that interest you. A virtual format will enhance the experience, allowing you to:

  • Meet with employers. Interact with recruiters through video, audio, or chat.
  • Discover new career opportunities. Get personalized recommendations based on your Handshake profile for which employers to connect with.
  • Never wait in line, ever. Pre-schedule 1:1 or group sessions with employers ahead of the fair or on the day-of.
  • Make an impression. Bring your unique perspective to the table, ask great questions, and follow up with recruiters after the fair.

How do I introduce myself and what kinds of questions can I ask employers?

Questions to Ask Employers 

  • What kinds of entry-level positions exist within your company?
  • Does your company hire on a continual basis or just at certain times of the year?
  • How long does the hiring process take?
  • What qualities does your company look for in an employee?
  • How many new employees (or interns) is your company looking to hire?
  • What makes your company unique compared to other companies?

Questions to Ask Grad School Recruiters 

  • How many students are in the department? How many professors are there?
  • What courses/pre-requisites should I take for graduate school?
  • What is the GPA cut-off for the department?
  • What graduate admissions test is required for the program?
  • What is unique about your school?
  • What do you look for in successful applicants?

Will students be able to submit their resumes to employers? Without joining sessions?  

Yes! Students will be able to sign up to meet with employers in 1:1 and group sessions during a virtual fair, and employers will have access to these students’ resumes before and after the fair. Sharing resumes in this way is not the same as a typical “resume book,” so if you have formal processes around resume books then we recommend that you consider these processes separately from your virtual fair. 

Will students who live internationally be able to participate? 

There are no restrictions by location, so as long as the student has logged into Handshake they will be able to participate.

Can a student see previously attended sessions?

Yes! Students will be able to see their previous sessions within the sessions tab.

Will students, employers, and career staff have access to transcripts of the chats they had during the virtual fair?

Transcripts will not be provided for conversations held during the fair. Instead, there will be moderation options for students and employers to utilize during conversations.

How do I report a problem? 

Report Technical Issue

You can report an audio issue, video issue, chat issue, or other. This will generate a ticket for our team to review, as well as help us continue to improve our product. 

Report a User

To report a participant, right-click on their name in the participants' list, then select Report User. The user will not be alerted that they have been reported. Note: if you report another participant, the session host will be notified and have the option to remove that user from the session. 

For more details on this process (including screenshots of what the forms look like), please refer to Reporting an Issue at a Virtual Fair.

Have more questions about our virtual fairs? Schedule a one-on-one appointment, or join us for our drop-in advising Monday-Thursday from 12-4pm. View the full advising schedule.

More to Explore

Schedule a virtual or phone appointment through Handshake, or by calling the UVA Career Center at 434-924-8900 M-F from 8am-5pm.

What feedback on your resume? VMock, is a 24-7 online resume-review tool, that leverages data science, machine learning, and natural language processing to provide instant personalized feedback on your resume. 

PathwayU is a platform with assessments to help you identify education and career pathways that fit you and make the most sense for your unique interests and values.