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Make an Impression, in your Jammies – Virtual Job Fairs Bring Recruiters into your Home

Ever walk into a career fair ready to take on the world and walk out with a plastic bag full of pens, cheap stress balls and few accomplishments?

All you really wanted to do was make a few connections, learn about the companies represented and submit a resume. The folks at Milicruit decided you can do all that without even changing out of your jammies, or lugging home a bag of useless freebies.

Last spring the company launched the virtual career fair, designed specifically to help veterans and their spouses connect with companies across the country.

“You’ve done enough, said Kevin O’Brien, vice president of business development at UBM Studios/Milicruit , based in Chicago.

“You shouldn’t be asked to waste time, money and energy to go to a career fair,” he said. “We’ll bring the career fair to you.”

The fairs are simple. Companies have representatives log in to the site. Participants log on as well and browse through the screens with information about the participating employers. When they find one they would like to learn more about, they send an instant message to the representative and start a conversation.

It’s important to keep in mind that career fairs are not hiring fairs and not a place to conduct interviews or find job offers. Instead, it’s a place to find out more about employers and exchange resumes.

“This is a branding opportunity for the employer and a resume exchange for the attendee,” O’Brien said. “If you’re a spouse getting transferred, normally you would have to get to that place and then start a job search. This allows you to meet with employers from all over country.”

Hosting the fair virtually allows both corporations and job seekers to participate without the added cost of criss-crossing the country. O’Brien said nationwide corporations who have slots to fill in several states are popular at the fair because they can interview candidates who log in from across the U.S.

Milicruit originally held the fairs just for the thousands of veterans entering the work force each year. Earlier this year, they held a fair targeted specifically to military spouses and the feedback was positive from both attendees and potential employers.

O’Brien said he expects virtual job fairs to grow in popularity. Already, more than 70 percent of companies that participate return for a subsequent fair. In three hours, about 156 people visit each booth. While there, applicants can instantly email recruiters their resume, meaning they enter the companies hiring system quicker.

Just because the recruiters cannot see you however, does not mean they do not notice your behavior.

“They way you act should be no different than if you were in person at a career fair,” O’Brien said.

If your chat consists of nothing more than, ‘Do you have a job in city A?’ you will not do as well as the applicant who initiates a chat about the company and seems genuinely interested in the company as a whole.

The career fair is open year round, though recruiters are there only at advertised times. The site is left open so attendees can do their homework and check out the information about the companies.

Also, O’Brien strongly suggests that applicants complete their fair profile and post an appropriate photo. He warns, “Those who don’t are going to get treated accordingly, just as if you walked up to a recruiter in jeans and a t-shirt.”

He also warns that attendees should avoid using the chats as a sounding board to complain about the job market or other issues. Negative discussions are so detrimental, in fact, that Milicruit considered closing the networking lounge area where participants can talk with other job seekers.

They may not be able to see you wearing jammies, but what you type speaks volumes.

“Do not treat this as a social website,” he said. “You’ve got recruiters on the other end viewing you and you only get one crack at that first impression.”

Visit the virtual job fair at www.veteranscareerfair.comand prepare for your next virtual fair.

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