Careers fairs are great for scoping out your next career move, whether you’re undergrad or postgrad. They give you the chance to speak directly to employers, universities and education providers – expanding your networks is a great way to start off your career.
Know what’s up
First things first. Get to know the venue, the layout, and how you’re going to get there. Get there in good time and have a hearty breakfast. Chances are you’ll be on your feet most of the day. Prepare as much as you can in the weeks leading up to the day, and practice your elevator pitch – just to ensure you’re comfortable talking about your knowledge, skills and experience.
Bring your CV to careers fairs
Your CV should cover all your skills, knowledge and experience in your career to date. Although most organisations will ask you to apply through their portal, it can be useful to bring a couple of copies along to the careers fair, because there may be an opportunity for you to get feedback on your CV from recruiting managers, perhaps even from the company you’d like to one day work for.
Careers fairs often include seminars and workshops from recruiters about how to craft your CV or application – these do fill up quickly so register in advance. Don’t forget you can get your CV and LinkedIn profile checked over by the Careers & Employability Service before you go to the fair.
Wear smart, comfy clothes
You’ll want to make a good impression, so it’s important to dress appropriately – the people you meet at a careers fair could one day be your colleagues or managers. It’s also important to feel comfortable in the clothes you wear, as you may be out and about all day. Bring a bag to carry all the business cards and publications you’ll be given during the fair.
Do your research
Chances are you’ll have a tight schedule. Before you go to a careers fair, prioritise which companies you’d like to make contact with, so that you can get round everything you want to. Also make sure you research the companies you’re going to speak to – first impressions count!
See above. Think about what you want to know about working at the companies attending.
Be prepared to network
Bring multiple copies of your CV to hand out (although most companies will ask you to apply online). Business cards with your contact details could be useful too. Networking with other like-minded people – not just employers – is a great way to get noticed in your industry or sector.
After a careers fair
Once you’ve attended a careers fair, don’t think ‘job done’. Make sure you follow up to improve your chance of success in the job market:
- Follow up on any contacts or business cards you have but remember to do so within the next 24-48 hours
- Send a personalised invitation to connect on LinkedIn and mention where you met them
- Keep in regular contact with industry people you meet
- Join professional groups or regulatory bodies to keep up with the profession