Visiting a careers fair is a fantastic step towards finding your first graduate job, but it can be a tad overwhelming if you aren’t clear about what you hope to gain from your day. It will probably be the first time you meet recruiters face-to-face, so it is very important that you make the right first impression. The GradJobs team has been organising the National Graduate Recruitment Exhibitions for nearly 30 years, so they know a thing or two about the dos and don’ts of attending recruitment fairs. Here they share their top ten tips to ensure you make the most your day!
1.Take a flexible approach to the exhibition.
Rather than simply looking to see if a certain company or sector is going to be represented at an event, take the time to consider the skills you have to offer and which sectors you could apply them to. You will probably surprise yourself with the range of options that are open to you!
- Find out who will be recruiting at the event.
Now is the time to take a look at the employers who are going to be at the exhibition. Make a list of the companies you definitely want to speak to and another list of the ones you’d like to visit if you have time.
- Research. Research. Research.
I hate to say it, but there really isn’t any substitute for knowing your stuff. Once you have decided which companies you want to talk to, take a look at their websites and social media feeds to find out what graduate opportunities they have on offer and the projects they have been working on. You will then be able to drop your knowledge into conversation and be remembered as a serious candidate.
- Make a list of the questions you want to ask
This is your chance to ask questions about graduate opportunities, the recruitment process and the workplace culture. However, if you really want to make an impact you are going to need to engage recruiters by asking something a bit different. Talk to them about the company’s expansion plans, ask them how their company values are demonstrated on a day-to-day basis, or discuss career plans – anything that will show you have a real interest in their organisation.
- Prepare your elevator pitch
Recruiters can get very busy at certain times of day so you may only have a couple of minutes to impress them. Think about what you would say if you only had 30 seconds to tell them what you’re looking for and what you have to offer them.
- Update your CV
Sounds obvious but having an up-to-date CV is essential when you are applying for graduate jobs. Taking a look at your CV before the exhibition will help you focus your mind your key skills and times that you have demonstrated them.
- Take a look at what else is going on at the event
There will often be other things going on at the recruitment fair. For example, the National Graduate Recruitment Exhibitions have an extensive range of seminars, workshops and extra features, such as a mock assessment centre, CV Clinic and an Advice Clinic to help you land your dream job. Take a look at the programme and highlight the sessions you think will be most useful to you. You should plan your day around these timings as recruiters will be available all day.
- Dress to impress
Treat the exhibition like a job interview. Have a think about the organisations you are interested in talking to and what you would wear if you were going to their offices for an interview. Wear that!
- Write it down!
Unless you have a superhuman memory (congratulations!), chances are you won’t remember every conversation you have. Be prepared to take notes about key things like application deadlines and useful tips.
- What now?
Sorry to burst your bubble but going to the exhibition alone isn’t going to get you your dream job – but it is a great way to get the ball rolling. Don’t lose momentum! Take a look at any info you picked up on the day and start making those applications while your conversations with recruiters are still fresh in your head.
Good luck and happy job hunting!
The National Graduate Recruitment Exhibitions are taking place on 9 & 10 October at Olympia, London and on 6 & 7 November at the NEC, Birmingham.
Entry is free and all full-time students can get subsidised travel. For more info please visit GradJobs.co.uk!