Careers Fair Top Tips for Students: Planning your day and whilst you are there

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The round of autumn 2017 careers fairs for Gradsouthwest kick off next week at the University of Exeter and the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol, so we thought it timely to re-issue our blog post from earlier this year: "Our top tips for students to make sure you make the most out of attending University Careers Fairs". So here it is:

We recently attended the University of Bath’s Careers Fair and it was fantastic event, with lots of different businesses and opportunities for students. Having a load of recruiters together under one roof can make things a lot easier for job-hunting grads, it’s like Gradsouthwest come to life in the real world. Great opportunities and a good chance to get some exposure to different companies, to put yourself out there and make yourself known, after chatting to the recruiters at the fair we’ve put together our top tips to make sure you make the most out of your day.

Planning your day

1.    Ask yourself what you want to get out of the careers fair. Do you want to speak to people to get a feel for the culture there? Are you at an earlier stage and want to find out a little more about the industry? Or are your applications about to be fired off, and you just want to make sure the recruiters know who you are before they read your CV?

2.    Usually fairs will provide a list of recruiters or a plan of the stalls on the days beforehand online – it’s important to take a look! Make a game plan. Even though you might be there for the whole day, you might not have time to see everyone. Make a list of the recruiters you want to see, and prioritize them.

3.    What’s more, you have to research the firms you want to speak to. Go on their websites, read brochures, dig out any information you might have previously collected. Use this to make yourself look informed and interested in each individual company – that’s what will make an impression. Prepare questions that you can ask. Remember that it’s unlikely that partners or very high up people at the firm will attend the careers fairs so it’s usually recruiters and people at entry-level positions, so target your questions accordingly. Don’t ask someone from graduate recruitment about the company’s long-term plan for organic growth in Africa.

4.    Consider printing off some copies of your CV. Not everyone will accept your CV, but it’s worth having some there, just in case. Even if no one takes one, it’s still handy having a list of your skills and achievements right therefor when you need to talk about them in conversation.

5.    Lastly, lay out your chosen outfit the night before, so your morning goes that little bit smoother. Remember to dress to impress, business attire will make you stand out for the right reasons.

Whilst you’re there

Once you’re actually at the careers fair, there are more things you can do to get the most out of your day.

1.    Get there early! Careers fairs can get really busy (after all,anticipate the job market will remain as or get even more competitive). Getting there early makes it more likely you can see the stalls you want to without there being massive queues.

2.    Be tactical with the order in which you approach employers. Consider going to the employers you’re interested in but aren’t a number one priority first. This will give you a chance to practice the way you speak to the recruiters. By the time you get to your prioritized firm, you’ll be confident and ready! Although, also be aware of the time – don’t spend too long at the first couple of stalls.

3.    Be proactive; don’t just go around collecting brochures (or promotional products). Initiate conversations, and make an impression. It’s important to stay professional and polite when you’re talking to people. Don’t panic. Try and look confident if you can, don’t be scared to ask for business cards.

4.    Send a follow-up email to any recruiters or anyone who gave you their details – thank them for their time. Consider sending your CV: remind them who you are and just say that your CV is attached.

5.    Mostly importantly register with Gradsouthwest, with an ever-increasing demand for graduate talent recruiters are in constant contact with us advertising vacancies and search for the best new talent in the market.

6.    Now you’re armed with our advice on attending these events, you can goout there and make the most of your day at a Careers Fair!

Nick Crawley