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Video interviews and virtual careers fairs are here to stay for the moment. Find out what you need to do to get hired in this competitive virtual marketplace.

The job statistics that are making headlines across the BBC and The Guardian make for some discouraging reading. The unemployment rate rose to 5% towards the end of 2020, and it appears that the Institute of Student Employers’ (ISE) prediction of a 12% drop in graduate vacancies is proving accurate for 2021. We brought together three TARGETjobs editors for a webinar to talk about the state of play this year, to explain why all hope is not lost and to help with some tips to get hired during the ongoing pandemic. Read on for a summary of some of the tips and tricks that were offered or click the video above to see the full webinar.

When do applications close in 2021?

Changes to applications are one of the first things to be aware of during the pandemic.
Employers are likely to be taking one of four approaches:

  • waiting out the situation and not opening applications for internships and vacancies
  • opening applications but closing before the deadline if they have enough applications
  • setting strict deadlines and only reopening if they haven't got enough quality applications (ie continuing on as normal)
  • keeping applications open all year (ie continuing on as normal).

Our panel’s top tips were to keep an eye on TARGETjobs and employer websites for vacancies to appear and don't wait until the deadline to apply. It may be that an employer will start assessing candidates as they are submitted rather than waiting for the deadline. If you’re uncertain how the process is timed, make sure to apply as early as possible.

Tips for handline a competitive environment

Social media envy can make it feel like all your friends and family are somehow storming ahead with their job hunt despite the odds. Remember that candidates aren’t compared against each other; they’re compared against how well they each fit the role for which they are applying. Try not to worry too much when you look at LinkedIn and don’t compare your experiences with what everybody else is doing. Focus on what you’re good at and believe that you are capable of getting the job!

Don’t ignore the little extras that you find on your job hunt. One of our TARGETjobs editors was hired after attending a work experience day and making an application after a follow up email to thank the team. You may not be able to get out and about to do experience days in the same way as you can when out of lockdown, but you can still attend virtual events to meet employers. If you make the extra effort to follow up and get noticed, you never know what could come of it.

You also need to learn to deal with rejection and to learn from it. It may be the case that you receive blanket proforma emails telling you that you haven’t got the job. Try not to dwell on the fact that you’ve been rejected, rather attempt to get feedback from the recruiter (politely) on what you could improve on for next time. Take your application back to friends or family who might be able to help to see what they think. At the end of the day, you may have been rejected because another candidate had slightly more experience or was a better fit for the company. Always look to get better for the next time, don’t dwell on the past.

Be ready for virtual recruitment

If you’re going to attend a virtual interview, make sure that you have all the equipment and that your tech works. Remember that you’ll need to be able to perform and impress from behind a computer webcam, but if you do have an equipment malfunction on the day, don’t panic – recruiters are generally going to be keen to speak to you and will make the effort to call you if there is a sudden disconnection. If you have a low wifi connection, consider asking your household to exercise their right to go out for an hour and exercise to free up the bandwidth. Your background can be anywhere in your house, even your bedroom, but do make sure that it is tidy (the parts that are visible on camera) and don’t forget that your gestures may be cut off by the screen when you’re talking to a recruiter. If you’re particularly expressive and communicative with your body language, you may want to consider doing a practice run on your own first to see how it looks.

You can find out more about video interviews in our article on Expert performance tips for video interviews. You can also see more about virtual assessment centres in our complete guide about What to expect.

How to approach virtual careers fairs

When you attend a virtual careers fair, you actually need to put in some work beforehand. Fill out your event profile as much as you can in advance and use your CV to help you fill it in – this is the only visibility you have to employers online, so make it work for you. If a recruiter has 100 video calls on the day, you want to make sure that your profile is the one that catches their eye when they’re deciding who to contact. As with a video interview, make sure that all of your equipment works on the day and that everything you have is compatible with the platform (and make sure you’re registered in advance).

Make a plan of action for what you hope to achieve that day at the fair, as well as a list of employers you wish to contact. If you've done your research, it will stop you from asking stupid questions that are already answered on the company’s website.

When you need to reach out to someone, have an elevator pitch ready that you can copy and paste into a chatbox to initiate contact. This should be a short message that explains who you are, why you want to work for the employer and any relevant education or skills that you feel the employer would find useful.

To find out more about virtual careers fairs see our articles on Six tips for succeeding at virtual careers fairs and The difference between virtual careers fairs and in-person events.

Watch the full webinar above for more on the information included in this article, as well as answers to live questions on the day and a full example of a brilliant elevator pitch.

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This describes editorially independent and objective content, written and edited by the GTI content team, with which the organisation would like to be associated and has provided some funding in order to be so. Any external contributors featuring in the article are independent from the supporter organisation and contributions are in line with our non-advertorial policy.

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This describes content that has been written and edited in close collaboration with the organisation, who has funded the feature; it is advertising. We are committed to upholding our ethical values of transparency and honesty when dealing with students and feel that this is the best way not to deceive consumers of our content. The content will be written by GTI editors, but the organisation will have had input into the messaging, provided knowledge and contributors and approved the content.

In Partnership

This content has been written or sourced by AGCAS, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, and edited by TARGETjobs as part of a content partnership. AGCAS provides impartial information and guidance resources for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals.

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