What may once have been an exciting indicator of a new technological era, the virtual job fairs of today have taken a more meaningful role in recruiting and employing qualified teachers. With current school budget cuts reducing the number of available positions and recruitment monies, virtual job fairs may be a more viable option for both employers and candidates. For candidates, virtual job fairs provide an opportunity to view and apply for positions all in one, on-line location, even from the comfort of their own home computers. For employers, virtual fairs are more economical, permitting school districts to post vacancies without the added travel expense to live events. Posting vacancies in online events is also much cheaper than the cost of placing ads in newspaper classifieds.
The concept of virtual job fairs was introduced about 10 years ago. Unlike on-site job fairs, interactions occur “on-line” rather than face-to-face between school districts and teacher candidates. School districts register, post their positions, and search resumes of teacher candidates that have indicated interest in their school district. Similarly, teacher candidates register, post their resumes, view the directory of all registered schools, and apply for teaching positions. Virtual fair communication options and the application process between candidates and recruiters include correspondence through email, phone, or postal mail.
As teacher candidates, here are some helpful tips in your use of virtual job fairs:
1. Prepare your Resume
An integral part of your participation in a virtual job fair will be your resume. When it comes to virtual job fairs, your resume is initially one of the only representatives of you and your qualifications. For this reason, you will want a well-written resume highlighting your specific qualifications as a teacher candidate. For help in this area, consider contacting your university’s career center. They have resources and knowledgeable staff able to assist you in the creation of a great resume.
2. Follow up with Employers
As when applying for most positions, it will be important that you follow up with the employer. If the employer has not contacted you within 7-10 days after you’ve applied, don’t hesitate to contact them by telephone or e-mail. Ask them where they are in their hiring process. Also, let them know of your continued interest in the position.
3. Keep Track
It is important in any job search to keep track of the what, where, and when of applying for a position. On a piece of paper, in a Word document, whatever works best for you, list the position that you have applied for, the names of who you contacted, and any correspondence you’ve had with that place of employment. This will be a reminder of positions you’ve applied to and when you need to follow-up.
4. Keep Checking
Remember that unlike live job fairs, virtual job fairs permit access over a longer period of time (i.e. several weeks or months). For this reason, it will be important that you keep checking the virtual job fair site frequently for new vacancy postings.
5. Not an End-All-Be-All
Finding a teaching position can be a long and trying process. Remember that although virtual job fairs are convenient and user-friendly, they should not be your only method of finding employment as a teacher. Your participation in virtual job fairs should be combined with attending on-site job fairs, networking, and searching job listings located in publications and on-line sites.
Having benefits for both employers and candidates, virtual job fairs provide opportunities for interactions between school districts and teacher candidates. Becoming familiar with the navigation of virtual job fairs will be important in your employment search. Used in conjunction with other tools, virtual jobs fairs can increase employment opportunities and the likelihood of landing a teaching position.
Kourtney Shick and Michelle Fetzer
Slippery Rock University
The opinions expressed in Career Corner are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.