The tried and tested student approach to recruitment fairs (fill a plastic bag with free brochures then scurry home to either read them quietly or allow them to collect dust and tea stains) is unsurprisingly, not the best way to approach the day.
Careers fairs provide excellent opportunities to gather information from the companies that you are interested in applying to. This is a unique chance to speak directly to employer representatives in an informal setting, allowing you to ask them your individual questions, rather than reading about them on a website.
It may seem like a daunting prospect, not least because it involves thinking beyond your time at university. But help is at hand, and a little preparation now will help you to make the most of your day at the Fair.
- Don't pre-judge any of the organisations attending!
If you see an engineering firm at the Business & Finance Fair what will your first reaction be? Think about it carefully - at the very least an engineering firm will have a finance department, human resources, sales & marketing; many of them will also offer graduate programmes in these areas. If they are attending the Business & Finance Fair it is because they have business & finance opportunities. Take the time to look at each company with a fresh perspective, you may well be pleasantly suprised.
- Don't overlook organisations whose names you don't recognise - they may have just the job for you!
- Research those employers that interest you, or are recruiting in the area that you would like to work. Read the exhibitor profiles on this site and visit the employer websites to gain more information - knowing a little about companies will make you stand out when you speak to them and create a favourable impression.
- Download your action plan and make a note of particular questions that you want to ask each employer. You can use this to record their answers at the fair.
Download your action plan
- Be reasonable about the number of employers you can see in one day. It is better to visit a small number and make a good impression than make no impression on many.
- As you approach, make eye contact so they are ready to talk to you.
- If they are busy, don't be afraid to stay a close distance so they know you are waiting.
- If you know what sort of job you are looking for, tell them and ask if they have anything similar.
- If you don't, tell them your academic (and professional) background and ask them what they have to offer.
- Don't forget to exchange contact details with the person you talk to. This will allow you to ask further questions after the fair and when applying, you can mention your earlier conversation.
- If there is a preferred employer you desperately want to impress, don't head straight for them. Plan your approach and make a few "practice runs" with less favoured employers first.
And remember, whilst it is not compulsory to dress smart it does reflect a professional attitude.