March 28, 2017 • Amanda Pullman
People, Jobs, and Networking: The RVA Career Expo
Smart Resources recently had the excellent opportunity of attending at the state’s premier professional career fair, the RVA Career Expo. An all-day event at the beautiful Glen Allen Cultural Arts Center, the expo was attended by 108 companies and over 1,100 candidates. Once again, it turned out to be a rewarding experience for candidates and recruiters alike.
The RVA Career Expo truly rises above other job fairs for a number of reasons. The venue has changed over the years as attendance has steadily increased. It is now housed in a wonderful cultural center comprised of multiple buildings and rooms with lovely art on display, helping to ease the nerves of candidates by providing a comfortable environment. Organizations of every size are represented, even Fortune 500s, as are a variety of industries such as IT, Finance, Communications, and more.
The Richmond Chapter of the Virginia Tech Alumni Association organized the event with Career Prospectors, a superb area group that assists job seekers with their searches. Everything was orchestrated like clockwork by this large group of fantastic volunteers. Many of these volunteers benefitted from past expos, so it was heartwarming to see them donate their time by returning to help others.
The Tuesday prior to the expo, Career Prospectors invited Smart Resources to host a breakout roundtable on IT, something that has been a regular occurrence since 2014. With roughly 20 attendees, it became a great exchange of knowledge that allowed us to give insight from our distinct hiring standpoint in the IT industry. Career Prospectors provides tremendous value to candidates and the Richmond area as a whole, where they also conduct many focused trainings. Upcoming events that a candidate may be interested in can be found here.
Working with Career Prospectors was a delightful way to gear up for the expo. On the day of the event, there was a constant flow of genuinely interesting candidates at our booth. Several were surprised that more than one Smart representative took the time to speak with them, and it’s always nice to see our culture exceed expectations in what can be a daunting experience for candidates.
The level of preparedness this year’s group of candidates had was outstanding. They had their resumes ready, well-rehearsed introductions set, and did their homework by knowing what Smart Resources was before walking up to the booth. Everyone was engaged in the conversation, and it was a solid indication that many of those candidates would soon be employed as great assets to any company.
Time passed quickly, rapidly putting another enjoyable RVA Career Expo in the books. It’s hard to pinpoint the best part of the event, but it really comes down to the fantastic culture that it has fostered. Not only is it a pleasant environment to meet new candidates, but returning to each expo feels like a homecoming. Seeing the same volunteers and vendors is exciting, and a fun way to catch up with this this charming group of people face to face after trading emails throughout the year.
Now that the RVA Career Expo has come and gone, there are several important tips for candidates to keep in mind:
- Follow up with the organizations that you spoke with. Take initiative to be the one to reach out and don’t just wait to be contacted.
- Email is a good way to reach out. Attach your resume, and mention something specific about your interaction with the recruiter to refresh their memory and distinguish yourself from others.
- Say why you’re interested in working with their organization. Giving a specific reason will help you to stand out.
- Use positive language. Instead of saying “You said you’d reach out to me in a week but never did” to a recruiter, try instead describing how excited you still are to speak with them. This could be your future employer or supervisor, so stay professional.
- Above all, do not get discouraged if you don’t hear from a recruiter right away. With so many people in attendance at the expo, it takes time for companies to follow up.
As an added bonus, the event also raised $10,000 in Virginia Tech scholarships for Richmond-area students. While smaller networking and career events are held throughout the year, the next iteration of the RVA Career Expo is Friday, October 13th, 2017. We’re already looking forward to it!