Make the most of a jobs fair – top tips

Jobs fairs are such a great tool for networking with employers and finding out what opportunities they have for graduates and skills they are looking for. Sometimes people simply view jobs fairs as a chance to pick up a couple of leaflets and have a bit of a wander around and make a beeline for the freebies, empty rucksack at the ready. Don’t be that person! Our fairs always attract large crowds so it’s important to stand out against everyone else. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of our upcoming fairs…

  1. Don’t Be Shy – Practice your pitch

First of all, don’t walk around in a gaggle of friends. Make like Jason Derulo and “ride solo.” You need to make it clear to companies that you’re interested in them. Be assertive, go up, give them a firm handshake and introduce yourself with a smile. Often, the recruiter will take the lead and ask you questions, but you should also have your elevator pitch ready—a 30-second soundbite of what you want the company to know about you

  1. Bring copies of your CV

Bring copies of your CV to the fair. While some employers prefer you to apply online, it is always useful to have a copy of your CV at hand. If you want to ensure you have a winning CV go to one of our CV workshops – see Careers Connect for details.

  1. Dress for success to make a good impression

It’s important to dress professionally—but at a career fair, you want to be comfortable, too. Wear a lightweight outfit that won’t get too hot, and check your coat or leave it behind. And make sure your shoes are extra comfortable—you might be on your feet for several hours!

  1. Do research on the companies beforehand

Research the companies that will be there and narrow down a list of the companies that you’d like to work for. Go to Careers Connect to get the list of companies attending the fair and start your research now!

  1. Make a plan

Arrive early and identify your top employers that you want to connect with and where they are in located in the fair using the floorplan. You want to make sure you have enough time to talk to all the companies you’re interested in. Jobs fairs can be busy places, so be aware that you might have to wait to speak to certain companies.

  1. A little enthusiasm goes a long way

Be enthusiastic!. Show your interest in a company by smiling and talking with the company’s representative and let them know that you’re excited for the opportunity and ask questions about the company. OK, BUT WHAT EXACTLY SHOULD I BE ASKING THEM?

Generally, most of the discussions you’ll be having with company representatives will be relatively informal. This doesn’t mean you can rock up to them with a casual, “Alright mate, what you doing here?” You should come to a jobs fair armed with specific questions about the companies and their graduate opportunities. Here is a  handy list of questions as a guide:

Do ask:

  • More about the company culture.
  • About the level of training given to graduates.
  • About opportunities for travel and international secondments.
  • What they feel makes their company unique?
  • What they enjoy about working in their particular industry?
  • How many graduates do they take on every year?
  • Are there opportunities to rotate and work in different offices across the country?
  • What do they think makes a good candidate stand out? What are the characteristics of your most successful employees?

And here’s what you shouldn’t ask:

  • How much money can I earn?
  • Why should I apply to your company?
  • So, what does your company actually do?
  • Tell me more about your company.
  • What’s the social scene like with your workmates after work?

Every careers fair and company is different, but broadly you can identify three types of company representative that might be at the fair. The first (and most likely) is a member of their graduate recruitment team, the second is a graduate trainee and the third is a more senior member of the company. It sounds blindingly obvious, but ask the right person the right question.

  1. Take notes for future reference

Make sure to take notes about next steps and the names of the company representatives you are talking to. It is also useful to mention these names in future interviews with the company as it demonstrates your interest in the organisation.

  1. After the Jobs Fair…..

Don’t be afraid to follow up on any contacts you’ve picked up. When getting in contact, make sure you remind them who you are, as they’ll have talked to hundreds of people on the day. You might want to do something as simple as emailing them a few days after the fair to thank them for their time.

You need to put all that information you’ve gathered into action, whether it’s applying for work experience or firing off an online job application. You might want to use it as a springboard to get stuck into extra-curricular activities, which will help you develop the skills that companies said they are looking for.