Guide to Virtual Career Fairs


Upcoming Career Fairs


Career fairs are an opportunity for students, postdoctoral fellows, and alumni to connect with employers. You can engage with representatives from many different organizations and learn about the organization's culture, hiring practices, and current and future available job opportunities.

The U of A Career Centre hosts multiple career fairs each year. Careers Day, the largest of the fairs, is host to over 100 employers and 5,000 U of A students and alumni. Careers Day is an all-disciplines fair. Other fairs hosted by the Career Centre include the Pharmacy Career Fair, Education and Foire de education, Summer Job Fair, Arts Career Fair, and Augustana Career Fair.

Virtual career fairs

Through virtual career fairs, you can easily connect with local, national, and international employers. Virtual career fairs are an effective way to network with employers and find out about available positions. You can learn more about employers, chat with and virtually meet recruiters. 

While the purpose of a career fair remains the same, the platform is different. There are a number of strategies you can use to ensure you make the most out of your virtual career fair experience.

Plan to spend several hours at the career fair. You may have to wait to talk to specific employers.

Preparing for a virtual career fair

Prepare technologically
  • Confirm that the device you plan to use is able to support the software platform used (Symplicity). It is advisable to use a desktop, laptop or tablet to avoid the shakiness that can come with using a phone.
  • You will first need to create an account with Symplicity, the U of A’s virtual career events platform. Click here to sign-up as a participant. Keep an eye on your email, you’ll receive email confirmation from hiretalent@ualberta.ca.
  • Find a quiet and private location. Practice with a friend, it’s helpful to get feedback on how you present yourself virtually.
  • You will need to use a virtual meeting platform to talk to employers. Employers select which platform they choose to use, potential options include Google Meet, Zoom, Web Ex, and Microsoft Teams. 
  • Remember, employers can also send emails out to those who have expressed interest in their organization. Keep an eye on your inbox for these.
Register, then create your profile

Register to attend the specific career fair. 

Employers attending the career fair can view your profile before, during and after the fair. This is a great way for them to stay in touch with you. You can also review employers’ booths and information after the fair.

The University of Alberta is using the software platform Symplicity. Since your profile will need to be completed prior to the fair date this will give you a good opportunity to explore the platform and identify any technical issues that you may need to explore. You will want to ensure your profile is robust and highlights your skills.

To edit your profile: 

  1. Create your Symplicity account.
  2. Log into your account and click on the tab “Public Profile”. 
  3. Edit and add information under the headers: Education, Experience, Projects, Organization and Activities, or Skills and Experience. Be mindful and strategic about the information you include in your profile. Employers will be able to view this information.
  4. Add an email and resume for employers to review (optional).
  5. Make your profile public to employers by clicking “Publish” in the top right corner. 
Create a sales pitch that you can type

The virtual career fair platform gives you many opportunities to present employers with a short written blurb about yourself. Writing this in advance allows you to feel confident on the day of the fair and present a concise, well-written piece. It is a good idea to include your name, area and year of study, and a brief description of your skills. Be prepared to answer questions about yourself and prepare a question or two for the recruiters.

An example introductory pitch could be:

My name is (your first and last name) and I am currently completing my (undergraduate/graduate) degree. I expect to be finished in (month/year). I have experience in (area) and am looking for opportunities where I can further develop my (type of skill) skills.

Update your resume and LinkedIn profile

There are options to upload your resume to your profile and use it to apply for jobs posted on the fair site. It is a good idea to update your resume to have it ready for any applications. Similarly, you may include a link to your LinkedIn profile so it is a good idea to update your profile for any employers who view it.

To upload your resume: 

    1. Create your Symplicity account.
    2. Log into your account and click on the tab “Documents” and choose “My Documents”.
    3. Click “Add new” to upload your resume to your profile.
Research employers 

Check the Career Centre website to know which employers are attending the fair. Just as you would for an in-person fair, researching participating employers helps you to prepare and plan your time. On a virtual platform, you can switch between employers quickly, so knowing who you want to see and speak to can help ensure you get the most out of your experience.

When researching employers, you may want to consider:

  • Their location(s)
  • Their main business purpose (ie. goods, products or services)
  • Who they serve
  • Check out their careers webpage, if applicable
  • Check out their social media (LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.)
  • Run their name through a search engine 

Creating a list of specific questions you have for employers is a good strategy. Potential questions to ask employers:

  • Can you tell me more about opportunities with your organization?
  • What kind of roles have U of A grads had in your organization?
  • What kind of training or professional development programs do you offer to employees?
  • What things do you love about working with this organization?
  • What problems is your organization trying to solve?

Some common questions students have for employers during COVID-19 may include:

  • Is your office working remotely for the foreseeable future?
  • What does the back-to-work plan for your company look like?
  • As a new hire, what kind of virtual or in-person onboarding and mentorship should I expect?
  • Are all interviews conducted virtually?
  • If your office is working virtually, can I work from anywhere or do I need to be in the city the company is based out of?

During the Fair

Participate as much as you can

At the start of the fair, you will want to put yourself into chat time slots for specific employers. Note how much time you have for each chat as it will be limited. Plan to target your conversation. This pre-planning will ensure you are able to speak with all the employers you wish. When chatting with employers, be engaged and ask targeted questions. Ensure you thank employers for their time. Take advantage of organization information posted to the virtual booth, attend live sessions, view pre-recorded videos that may be of interest.

When planning questions to ask employers, ensure you have enough open-ended questions to keep the conversation flowing. Unlike closed questions, open-ended questions cannot be answered with simply yes or no and require more elaboration. 

Sometimes, you may be the only person in a chat room with an employer, however, other times, multiple people will also be having group conversations with representatives that you can view. Employers want student participants to be engaging, so if a conversation interests you, it is acceptable to chime in.

You also have the option to speak privately with an employer if you want to ask about available opportunities, discuss your experiences and qualifications, etc. If an employer requests it, you may be invited to video chat face to face. If you do wish to have a private chat with an employer, you will need to sign up for a timeslot with them.

Dress appropriately

A career fair is a chance for you to present yourself to employers. Just as you would if you were meeting an employer in-person, you want to make a good impression. Dress as you would for your desired workplace and to make a good first impression. 

In advance of the fair, check how what you are wearing appears on camera. For example, do you blend into the wall behind you? Would you feel comfortable standing up and having an employer see your whole outfit? You do not have to wear formal attire, but you will want to be comfortable and polished.

Follow typical interview etiquette

Virtual interviews or conversations with employers should be professional, concise, and friendly. Centre yourself as best as possible on the video screen. You will want to maintain eye contact by looking at your camera and not the person on your screen, be focused on the speaker, and answer questions fully. In a virtual interview, it can be challenging to read body language and often accidental interruptions can happen. Remaining professional and focused on the topic at hand is important.

Communicate clearly

When meeting with employers at the fair, aim to communicate as clearly as possible. Try to avoid acronyms (jk lol) in chat messages and use full sentences.

After the Fair

Keep a record of jobs for which you have submitted an application

Jot down any jobs and/or organizations you applied to so you can keep track of potential jobs. If you have specific details about when you will hear back about a job from an employer, it can be good to have that information written down as well.

Follow up with employers

Make note of who you have spoken to and follow up with them if you are interested. You can return to Symplicity to find employers’ contact information.

Your next steps can include:

  • Visiting the organization’s website to learn more about them and look for open job postings.
  • Check out job postings on campusBRIDGE
  • Follow the organization on social media (LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.)
  • Email the employers you connected with to ask any follow-up questions. 
  • If you were unable to connect with specific employers, find their information on Symplicity and feel free to contact them. 

When following up, ensure you thank them again for their time at the fair.