The GradConnection Careers Fair is fast approaching. The employers will be ready to meet you and will be looking out for the cream of the crop. How can you ensure that you leave a positive impression in their minds?
Here are some suggestions to help you prepare to get the most out of the career fair:
Ensure you know the logistics and you have something smart to wear
It might not be an interview but it is still important that you leave a lasting impression in the right way. Think about the impression you want the employers to take from you in the moments that they meet you.
Remember that you want to give yourself enough time to speak properly to each employer and therefore don’t turn up right at the end of the career fair. Representatives always find career fairs tiring so they will be far happier to engage with you for longer at the beginning than in the last 5 minutes.
Reflect on what you want to take away from the career fair
Spend time before the fair thinking through what your want your key takeaways to be.
Maybe you are just starting out your career search and therefore want to talk to many people about different options. Or maybe you are making applications for graduate positions and need to find out some information to knock out the recruiters on your application form. Whatever the reason it will help you to make the most of the fair by deciding what you want to achieve.
Define your strategy
Once you know what you want to take away from the career fair you will be able to better define how you will approach the fair.
Will you walk around first exploring who looks friendly to speak to or do you want to head to your favourites first? Maybe you want to start with an organization you are quite interested in to build your confidence and leave your top choice to the end. Will you go round with friends or on your own? There are many strategies to take but make sure your strategy involves more communication than just a “hello” and “thank you”.
Research the organisations
GradConnection have provided you with a list of employers who will be there and of course they have the perfect tool to find out more about these organisations before you arrive at the career fair. Being familiar with some basic knowledge about the employers and what they do will ensure that you don’t waste their valuable time or your own. It will also help you to filter through which organisations really are on your target list.
Think about what you really want to ask
There is so much information online but getting access to real people, who work in careers and organisations you are interested in is not as easy. This is a great opportunity to really find out about how the organisation works and to gain an insight into what critical skills they are looking for.
I’m not going to give you any example questions here but I invite you to think of things that really matter to you. People love speaking about themselves and their experiences, they do not like to speak about money (although I know you often want to ask about that). Think beyond the average questions and ask follow up questions showing you are really genuinely interested in them. Always thank them for their time after you have spoken to someone
Remember that these people will have been selected by their organisations because they are top performers and believe in their companies. However even a top employee will have elements in their roles that they do not like or have been harder for them than others. Ask them about these things too so you get a well rounded opinion of the organization.
Think about your opening statement
You don’t need to prepare a lengthy explanation of who you are and what you do but preparing a quick introduction to yourself and a follow up question relevant to them will allow you to more easily enter a conversation with the representatives.
Very few people like to meet new people especially when the stakes are up and you want to leave a positive impression, but you are in luck. Career fairs are designed to support this – the business representatives will want to speak with you so don’t be afraid to start a conversation.
Be prepared to answer some questions about yourself
It is likely that the representatives will engage in conversation with you and ask you questions. Think of it as a great opportunity to show them a bit more about you. Be careful not to answer one word answers, ensure you hold good eye contact and try to be yourself as much as you can.
If you do get a business card from a representative, a quick thank you for their time after the event is always well received.
Most of all enjoy yourself
Job hunting might seem like a huge mountain to climb but I have had many interesting conversations at fairs like this and as a recruiter I can honestly say I have remembered strong candidates and it has helped them to get through at least the first round. It is also a great opportunity to explore options that you had not considered.
I hope by following some of the advice in this piece will allow you to ensure you are on that stand out list. I look forward to meeting you at the fair!
*Anna Champion is the founder of The Talent Lighthouse and co-founder of Experiential Insight. Her main focus is to help talent transition from universities into the workplace. She will be on site at the fair and looks forward to meeting you there!