Per the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor’s Current Employee Statistics, now is an optimal time for job seekers to explore new opportunities: July 2021 job growth was widespread across industries, including gains in leisure and hospitality, public and private education, professional and business services, retail trade, and other services. However, as we continue to usher in a new era of “return-to-work,” many are still struggling with breaking out of long-term unemployment as a result of the pandemic. Moreover, the true number of individuals who have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks is likely an undercount.
With a large percentage of American workers considering new job opportunities, what are the best ways for those still looking to land a new role to stand out and get hired? As a CEO of a virtual events company, I offer a few pointers.
Take advantage of in-person networking when possible
A good strategy for finding new career opportunities is to take a hybrid approach to interviews. After attending a virtual or in-person event, you can make a stronger impact by connecting with recruiters in face-to face interviews. Ask about signing up for both in-person and Zoom interviews to make a social connection with recruiters and convey a sense of commitment.
Moreover, refine what opportunities you choose based on your interests. For example, if you’re at a job fair, select the booths which intrigue and excite you. This step is important because if you sign up for too many events, it can cause you to be a no-show or late to certain events. The effect can send a negative signal to recruiters. Your goal is to make a good impression with targeted recruiters rather than attend as many interviews as possible. And after you speak with recruiters, take down their information to follow up in the future.
Attend virtual job fairs
Virtual job fairs give you more surface area to engage with recruiters and organizations that interest you, regardless of their geographic location. When you send a résumé to an organization through a job portal or LinkedIn, your one-pager could be left behind in a crowded applicant pool and filtered out by automated systems. You avoid this issue when you have a virtual interaction or interview with a recruiter, when you can show them your passion and interest in their industry.
In the event you choose virtual, come to online fairs with thoughtful questions ready for recruiters. Reserve time slots beforehand, attach your cover letter, engage in group chat rooms, and don’t forget to dress to impress. Even though it’s virtual, the interview is still a professional’s chance to give employers a great first impression. After making the rounds of your virtual job fair, go to LinkedIn and connect with the recruiters you interacted with. Thank them for their time and stay engaged to continue to expand your network.
Connect with reliable and relevant recruiting agencies
Agencies have their own specialties and focus on specific industries. You should be aware of the ones that focus on your industry of interest. Instead of signing up for every agency, ask for referrals and research for the ones that can help you break into the ones that interest you.
It’s important you’re as professional with agencies as you are with internal recruiters. This is to say you should not completely walk away from the interaction, or “ghost” them. They are your connection to organizations who have direct contact with the hirer. When you contact an agency, be clear about your goals and follow through with every step of the process.
Invest in what inspires you
Networking and job fairs are the most potent strategies for job seekers, but you can stand out by attending events and contribute to problem-solving in your industry. Companies hire people to solve problems, so you can stand out against the hundreds of other potential candidates by showing that you can solve their problems. You can take initiative and reach out with materials you created that specifically help the organization. By showing your interest to solve problems, you are showing you are enthusiastic and paying attention.
New career opportunities can also come out of attending other events besides job fairs that demonstrate your interest. By attending targeted events, you can strengthen and diversify your network. If healthcare, accounting, or blockchain is your interest, attend events for that industry. However, you should not just show up and expect connections and knowledge to come to you. Make sure to participate wholeheartedly and show people that you’re passionate about the industry.
Tips for a successful virtual job hunt
After a long pandemic period, it can feel difficult to get back into the job market, but there are numerous opportunities out there. Any job seeker looking for a role that will fit them should take advantage of the hot market for employees. When you do reach out to agencies, recruiters, or other industry professionals, come prepared. And if you decide to attend a virtual event, here are some quick tips to get you closer to the job you want.
- Do your research and come to the job fair with questions targeted at specific companies.
- Ask thoughtful questions that relate to the job and your potential team.
- Add the recruiter on LinkedIn after the job fair and send thank-you notes as a follow-up.
- Use your time wisely by determining the exhibitors you want to visit. This will ensure that you have time to make an impact rather than rushing through as many exhibits and discussions as possible.
- Not every organization, or their recruiter point person, is for you but you should still maintain a level of professionalism and avoid ghosting.
- Ask for referrals and continue networking with your peers and recruiters until you find the right job.
- Continue to connect with your industry community to find out when the next potential virtual job fair is taking place.
Muhammad Younas is the CEO at vFairs, a leading global virtual events platform. With over a dozen years in the software space, Younas has conceptualized and grown multiple highly profitable B2B SaaS businesses reaching millions of users around the world.