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How to get the most out of a Graduate Careers Fair

about 6 years ago

Graduate, career, job, fairs, top tips

How to get the most out of a Graduate Careers Fair


Attending the University of Hertfordshire Graduate Careers Fair on the 18th October 2017 has made me reflect back to my University days at UH and how I felt attending my first jobs fair. I remember thinking that having a bunch of employers under one roof was a great opportunity; you can speak to employees to get deeper information about careers and application processes. However, I found that it  can be overwhelming without the right guidance.

So I have put together some top tips to really help you benefit from these opportunities (and get more than just the freebies).


Think ahead: plan your time at careers fairs

Time is limited and recruiters will be approached by hordes of eager students, so you need to be on the ball and have a game plan.

  • Check the location of the fair, its opening times and which employers and organisations will be attending.
  • Think about why you want to attend and what you want to get from the event e.g.. researching a sector, job searching, networking etc.
  • Decide which employers you want to visit. If you can get a floor plan of the exhibition hall, plot a route around the fair.
  • Update your CV, it will be a useful tool to refer to when talking recruiters through your skills and experience.


Research employers before you go

Prior research means you can quickly get beyond the basics. You'll also create a much better impression.

The absolute minimum research you should do:

  • Visit employers' websites to find out what they do (products made/services offered) and to find out more about graduate roles, skills and qualifications required and recruitment processes.
  • Prepare questions to ask recruiters and representatives. These can be about the recruitment process, what skills and qualities are needed, trends in the profession, and so on - take these with you.
  • In the days leading up to a fair, scan the news headlines and relevant industry sector pages of quality news websites to get a feel for what's going on in the sectors that interest you.


Presentation matters: be comfortable but professional

The jury is out on how you should dress for graduate recruitment fairs. Some say suited and booted, while others say smart casual - it can depend on the profession. Smart casual is usually fine; clean and tidy is vital. It's important that you are comfortable, but also be professional. How you look is only one part of the presentation package.


When you approach recruiters at fairs:

  • Smile.
  • Be purposeful, confident, and enthusiastic, but also polite and courteous.
  • Know what you have to offer - your skills, qualities and experience.
  • Be ready with specific questions to ask. Top tip: Prepare and practice a mini 'pitch' about yourself. It doesn't have to be a hard sell of your skills, just a simple, brief introduction.
  • Arrive early to avoid queues and get to recruiters before they get weary.
  • Visit your top priority employer after you've talked with one or two others - this gives you a chance to warm up and build your confidence.
  • Don't hunt in a pack. If you go with friends, split up to make better use of your time. Even more importantly, this will show recruiters that you are a capable, independent individual.
  • Make notes to refer back to
  • Take a notepad and pen to write down the names and contact details of people you meet and to record any useful information you glean.


Evaluating the options:

  • What makes the organisation different?
  • Would you be happy working with these people?
  • What did you find out that made you feel you would fit in? How would you be able to use your skills within the organisation?


Final Top tip:

Graduate careers fairs are good opportunities to practice basic interview techniques. Think about how you will respond to typical interview questions: What do you know about us? What interests you about working for us? What attracts you to a career in this industry? What skills and qualities do you think would be important for this role/our company?


To all UH students, we look forward to meeting you at the Graduate and Careers Fair!!!!


The Pioneer Selection Team