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Pitt, CMU among those participating in online job fairs

Debra Erdley
| Friday, April 18, 2014, 10:13 p.m.

As members of the digital generation prepare for college graduation and an increasingly competitive job market, more students are looking to online job fairs to find work.

Cheryl Finlay, director of the University of Pittsburgh's Office of Career Development and Placement Assistance, said Pitt participated in its first virtual career fair in November 2010 and has been in at least one each year since.

Although Pitt continues to host recruiters on campus, the virtual job fairs allow the university to showcase students and graduates to employers who cannot afford to send recruiters to every school.

This month, Pitt officials saw a group of recruiters at a virtual career fair that CareerEco organized for students at schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“Out of the 88 employers at the ACC Fair ... only five had attended our fall 2013 and/or spring 2014 Career Fair,” Finlay said.

Gail Oliver, who started Atlanta-based CareerEco in 2009 after a career as an executive recruiter, said employers are eager to participate.

“For them it's really efficient,” she said. “As the job market gets more competitive and new grads want to learn more about companies, this gives them an opportunity they might not otherwise get.”

Students register their profiles including majors, languages and interests, and can upload cover letters or resumes for companies to review.

“Then, the day of the fair, students can go into a chat room and chat with a recruiter and find out what the companies want,” Oliver said.

Carnegie Mellon University next week will host a virtual job fair through CollegeFeed.com, which is working with CMU, Stanford University and California Polytechnic State University.

Kevin Monahan, associate dean of career and professional development at CMU, said it's another way for students to get employers' attention.

Todd Medema, 21, a CMU senior promoting the event, said he focused on CollegeFeed's services when scouting a project for his work in technology and entrepreneurship as a fifth-year scholar.

“I wanted to do something that helped nontechnical students get a job. I knew how valuable people other than engineers were. You need marketing people, you need advertising people, and it struck me that these people had a hard time getting a job,” Medema said.

Although CollegeFeed is free to students, all participants must submit pre-approved portfolios.

Employers submit information about their needs. Portfolios that meet those needs are forwarded, and employers can contact prospects.

Medema said employers like the approach.

“Because portfolios are all of high quality, employers don't get flooded with resumes that are incomplete and don't have experience that they want,” he said.

Debra Erdley is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com.

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