Graduate Recruitment Fairs
Career fairs help you to find companies that match your career aspirations and eliminate those that don't, as well as discovering work experience and further study providers in person. Even if none of the careers or options on offer seem for you, the chance to speak to graduate recruiters and check out the competition is invaluable. Entrance is free, and though most graduates will go away with nothing more than a goodie bag and a clearer idea of their career options, a lucky few will leave with a job.
They are an excellent way to find out about work informally. You can quiz the recent graduates about what life in that organisation is like and you can ask the employers questions about your prospects with them. You can raise specific queries and discuss alternatives, and give recruiters your CV.
Go, with an open mind, and ask lots of questions. Prior to a fair, there will be a list displayed on the organiser's website, of graduate recruiters attending the event. It is a good idea to look at this beforehand so that you can work out in advance the questions you want to ask your prospective employers.
This is not a formal application or interview. Employers are at the fair to market their organisation and opportunities to you and to seek good potential recruits. They may take note of your interest, suggest you apply and await your application. It is not necessary to dress smartly but be sure to make a good impression.
- Make sure you go with a structured plan of action.
- Preparation is key. Find out who's exhibiting and which recruiters you definitely want to see. Each fair will have an exhibitors' list and floor plan so you can plot your route. Research the companies you're interested in and bring along sufficient supplies of your up-to-date CV.
- Get there early and avoid the rush. Fairs tend to be busier at the beginning or near the end so aim to get to employers before they see too many people.
- Know what you have to offer - the skills, qualities and experience that will appeal to a prospective employer - and put it across confidently.
- Perfect your sales pitch beforehand. Make it short but persuasive, tailoring it if possible to the specific company.
- Talk to company representatives as they are a window to the company culture. Ask questions and decide from their responses whether this is the company for you.
- When talking to company representatives, be assertive, articulate and enthusiastic but most importantly be yourself! Make sure you get contact details so that you can follow up and also get feedback. Do so within a week of the fair. You can download a template follow up letter for a careers fair meeting here:
Careers fair follow up letter template (pdf - 18KB)
- Try to stand out from the crowd - just think how many students and graduates each company will see during a typical two-day fair.
- Recruitment fairs may be more casual than they used to be but you should still dress smartly. Avoid appearing scruffy and breathing toxic fumes from last night's pub crawl all over prospective employers. Most importantly, remember to smile!
- Use career fairs to network with as many employers as possible. You should practise your interview technique and be prepared to be put on the spot as more fairs offer instant interview facilities.
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