Graduate career fairs or job fairs are held on university campuses up and down the country to bring together employers and students, useful for anyone at university. Planning your career early has many benefits, and attending a careers fair is one way in which you can start making preparations for life after graduation. They offer a chance to research potential employers and industries and find out about possible future opportunities. However, they can be large events and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
If you are planning on attending a graduate careers fair, here are 4 tips to help you get the most out of it.
1. Have a Plan
Before you attend, make sure you know what you are hoping to achieve. This will depend on which stage you’re at in planning your career and will influence the way you approach the fair. Maybe you’re hoping to find out more about a particular employer or industry, or you might be looking for networking opportunities or a chance to undertake some work experience. Whatever your reason, make sure you know which employers you want to talk to and whereabouts they will be located.
2. Do your Research
Graduate careers fairs can be busy, and your time to talk with potential employers may be limited. To make a positive impression and get the most out of the experience, it’s vital to do some general background research. Look at the company’s website to get a feel for what they do, then you can spend time asking pertinent questions, rather than going over the basics. Prepare a few questions, for example about the wider industry, and keep up to date on any relevant news in that sector.
3. Treat it like a mini interview, and part of the application process
Careers fairs are great practice for interviews as you get a chance to answer basic questions, i.e “what do you know about us?” or “what interests you about working for us?” etc. Like with a job interview, think about how you present yourself. While full business attire isn’t necessary, make sure you are smart and presentable, to demonstrate you’re taking it seriously. It’s a good idea to have a copy of your CV to hand so you give it to the employer should they ask for a copy. It’s important you can describe your skills, knowledge and experience effectively, try to practise a ‘mini pitch’ which explains you, what you can offer an employer and what you are looking for. It doesn’t have to be a hard sell, just a concise, yet confident and purposeful introduction.
4. Start building relationships - networking
Graduate careers fairs are a great opportunity to start building relationships (networking), so don’t be afraid to follow up with people you meet at the event. Hopefully, after the fair you will have a better idea of the types of organizations you want to work for, so you can narrow down potential roles that interest you. Asking relevant follow up questions or enquiring about work experience are great ways to get you noticed for all the right reasons. It’s a good idea to have a LinkedIn profile, so you can reach out directly to individuals you have met, or who work within the companies you’re interested in.
Walking into a graduate careers fair can be daunting, but hopefully these tips can help you get the most out of the experience. If you would like to discuss this, or any other topic relating to graduate careers, contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org to see how I can help you.