Have you been to a careers fair yet? First impressions count.
Here’s our short guide to help you prepare and get the most out of the experience – you never know who you might meet and what doors could open for you…
Before the fair
Do your homework – look at the list of organisations and companies who have said they’ll attend (check the exhibitors list on the website). You should also be able to find out what they’re looking for – ie if they’re recruiting the next graduate intake or some second year work experience students.
Create a game plan and prepare your pitch. Make sure your CV is up to date and have some printed copies ready, clearly laid out, together with all your contact details. Decide who you want to talk to beforehand and work what you’re going to say to each one, if you’re prepared then you’ll be able to get round all the companies and give yourself the maximum exposure. Don’t wait in a queue if there’s an empty stand behind you – take the opportunity to ‘live practise’ your pitch and you never know what might happen.
At the fair
Make sure you’re appropriately dressed for the job that you want. You’ll never get a second chance to make an excellent first impression. Looking smart is the smart thing to do - and make sure your hair and nails are clean and tidy. Now is not the time to appear cool and hip to your mates. This opportunity is about setting yourself up with your next career move.
Introduce yourself confidently and with a smile, even if you are nervous inside, pretend you’re not!
When you get chance, deliver your ‘elevator pitch’ – 30 seconds of what’s important – you’ll have practiced this so you can speak confidently and clearly. Be flexible in your approach, you’ll be meeting a range of people in one go and you might need to adjust your pitch as you assess the representative and what you judge they’re looking for. You will need to say in a nutshell who you are, what you’re doing and what you want to do next (hopefully for them!) and why.
Prepare some questions for the recruiters – don’t ask them bland questions that you could find in a google search – think of something different, like this but add more ideas -
· What was your first role with the company – what was the year like?
· Can you describe the company ethos/ work culture in a few words?
· What have been the key changes in the industry/sector since you joined?
If the indication is that you have the relevant experience, be bold and ask for an interview! If you’re not given one straight away don’t worry, the fact that you have asked is good enough to make you memorable.
Remember a notebook and pen – once you’ve spoken to the company representative, make a note of their name and summarise what you discussed.
Register with job boards and relevant agencies; the more opportunities you give yourself, the better.
After the fair
Follow up any promising conversations with an email as soon as you leave the event, remembering to attach a copy of your CV. If you’ve already made a positive impression, a personalised and carefully worded email could land you that all important interview.
Sometimes you might just be attending to see what the different companies offer and what they ‘feel’ like – it’s all useful experience and something you can use to narrow your job search when you’re ready. Connect with the recruiters that you meet on Linkedin – you never know who somebody knows and if you stand out for the right reasons, you could be given a useful introduction.
It’s also worth a little review of your performance. Did you feel you came across confidently? If not, how can you be more prepared next time? Did you struggle with any questions you were asked or with ideas for questions yourself? Write down what you could have said or asked instead. Was there anyone you missed that you wanted to speak with? Look at the event guide and follow up.
Good luck from the mybrink team!