Careers fairs are often one (sometimes multiple) day events that give students the opportunity to meet recruiters and find out more about different companies in their hunt for a job. Preparing for a careers fair will ensure you have the best experience possible because, let's face it, you don't want to be wandering around endlessly not knowing where to go or what to do. Read on for some tips on how to prepare for your day at a careers fair.
Work Out What You Want To Get Out Of It
The first thing you should do is ask yourself why you are attending. Are you there to learn more about internship and graduate positions, network with recruiters, eat free food, or all of the above!? Whatever it is, have a think about how you can best achieve your goals using a combination of the different tips we are about to go through.
Gather Details About The Careers Fair
Now that you know what you want to get out of your next careers fair, as part of your preparation you should gather as much information as you can about the event itself. This can be things such as a map or floor layout, a program of events, and who's attending. This will help you plan how you are going to manage your time and how long you will have to speak to different representatives. Also knowing which companies are attending will allow you to do some research, which leads to the next tip...
Have an Open Mind
Go beyond just finding out more about the companies and industries you are interested in and challenge yourself. Careers fairs are a chance to find out more about companies you don’t know much about or the possibilities in industries that from the outside don’t appear to align to your degree or discipline. Most companies hire across degrees and have a lot more opportunities than you may expect.
Recruiters value research, whether it's at a careers fair, interview, or even a coffee catchup. Use this to your advantage by reading up on what the companies are about, the different roles available, and what kinds of things they are doing at the moment. This will highlight the initiative you've taken to show interest in their company, which will impress the recruiters.
A well-researched question or informal chat can show lots of things companies look for in grads including a sense of curiosity and willingness to learn, communication skills (listening and speaking), and building rapport.
There's nothing worse than getting to the front of the line to talk to a recruiter and having no questions ready. Have a few interesting questions lined up for each company you want to talk to so you can stand out. Check out our article on the different types of questions you can ask at a careers fair to start you off.
Outline An Elevator Pitch About Yourself
Prepare a short introduction about yourself that you can tell to recruiters. This can include things such as your skills, passions, and past experiences. This helps guide the conversation towards areas more aligned to you. What you pitch about yourself might change depending on the company you are speaking to. Try and tailor it depending on the type of role you want to apply for.
Attending a careers fair event means it's likely that you'll be overwhelmed with information told to you by recruiters throughout the day. Bringing a notebook is a great way to make sure you remember specific things you've such as application dates or insights about a company. You don't want to be scribbling down notes whilst you are talking to a company representative so write your notes in between conversations.
Even though careers fairs aren't the most formal environments, its always beneficial to be smart and presentable. You don't have to wear your best suit but smart or business casual is probably your best bet. Just don't show up like you just woke up!
Begin An Application
If you are interested in a particular company and the careers fair timing lines up with their application openings, starting an application is a great idea. You don't have to complete it (or even write anything at all). The purpose of this is to understand their application process a little better and the types of qualities they might look for in a candidate. You might also find things you have specific questions about, and there's no better time to ask those than at a careers fair.
We hope you get the most out of your next Careers Fair and hopefully use some of these tips!