For the past two months, Bio Careers members have been gearing up for the Spring 2012 Virtual Job Summit. As one of the most effective and creative resources Bio Careers provides, this biannual event brings together employers in academia, industry and other fields with life science postgraduate jobseekers. The inaugural event in 2011 was a tremendous success with over 600 scientists in attendance, and marked the first online job summit exclusively for life scientists.
This year, organizations started building their virtual booths in January. So far, several employers have subscribed for the April event, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Promega, Covance, Propel Careers, PSC Biotech, Stanford University, Columbia University, University of Texas Medical Branch, Stony Brook, and City of Hope. If last year was any indication, several employers will continue to subscribe to the event through the end of March.
Navigating the Virtual Job Summit is very much like attending any conference. The view from outside the virtual convention center is sunny and warm, accented with palm trees. No need to worry about distractions though, because this summit is all business, teeming with virtual crowds of jobseekers and employers bustling from one event to the next. Unlike typical job summits, however, you won’t have to burden your wallet with travel and hotel expenses.
After registration, which is free for Bio Careers members, jobseekers need only log in to the Virtual Job Summit and they can visit booths in the Employers Hall where employer information, brochures, videos, and current job listings are just a click away. Jobseekers can submit their résumé and sign up for an online video chat with hiring managers during their office hours when the event goes live on April 4th and 5th. After employers have reviewed the résumés and information of jobseekers who visited their booths, they schedule video interviews with candidates later in April.
But this fair offers more than interviewing and networking opportunities. The event schedule is replete with webinar presentations in the Auditorium that are designed to help postgraduates learn how to structure résumés and cover letters targeted to employers, tips for putting your foot in the industry door, how to craft a career as a freelance medical writer, and how to market yourself to companies. A series of live events on April 4th and 5th include Get in the Zone to Hone your Phone Interview!, What employers look for in a resume, Leaving the Bedside: How I Rebuilt my Career, and Your Mindset – The Number One Killer of Job Search Momentum. If guidance and advice are what you’re looking for, visit the Jobseekers Lounge for a one-on-one chat with Bio Careers consultants on topics such as Resume Help or Advice on Interviews. While you’re there, get some networking in and video chat with other jobseekers about their experiences.
The idea of a virtual job fair may initially seem strange to those accustomed to traditional fairs, but the virtual experience offers additional advantages. Virtual job fairs present a low cost, convenient opportunity to meet employers from the comfort of your own home (or desk in the lab). You can run experiments at work while simultaneously interviewing for a job. What other interview process offers that?
At traditional fairs, we often run out of time and don’t get a chance to meet all of the recruiters on our list, but with virtual fairs you have weeks in advance to schedule meetings with everyone. The fair doesn’t control your schedule; you do.
In addition, you can to do your homework beforehand. Virtual booths in the Employer Hall provide you with all the information you need to prepare for the event: descriptions and requirements for each posting. Tailoring your résumé and cover letter for each listing is a unique option at virtual fairs.
As with any job fair, though, preparation is crucial. Don’t underestimate the importance of this event because it is virtual. Even while video chatting, professionalism is essential, and dressing appropriately is advised. Employers will use this opportunity to narrow the candidate pool, and how you conduct yourself at this summit can make or break your hiring success.
The virtual experience is convenient, yes, but when it comes down to it, this is still a job fair. Be professional, be prepared, and take full advantage of this singular opportunity.