Let’s get ready-ready, let’s get ready-ready…

Should I go to the Careers Fair? Well the short answer is YES. Need persuading? The idea of a Careers Fair is to unite qualified job applicants with prospective employers. It is a superb opportunity for networking and to gather information about potential career possibilities.

How to prepare for a Careers Fair

To take full advantage of the opportunities on offer please make sure you are well prepared. Last year we asked Employers for their Careers Fair pet hates to help you avoid potential pitfalls

  1. Identify your target –   The Careers and Employability Service are very pleased to be hosting 110 employers for this year’s Careers Fair Take a look at the exhibitor list on the website or collect an Employability Week Programme of Events (available from the Careers & Employability Service building or a distributor on campus) and identify the key employers you wish to speak to.
    Employer pet hate: People who aren’t interested in talking to them, just seeing what freebies are available. Don’t be distracted; time is limited. Are you going to apply to a company just because they gave you a free pen? 
  2. Keep an open mind – Don’t just focus on the big name companies, smaller companies have just as good opportunities. Don’t just go on face value either; it may be an Accounting & Finance company but they will also have departments for IT, Human Resources, Marketing, etc. We have asked each employer to specify the type of roles they offer and the subjects they are recruiting from and added this to the programme.
    Employer pet hate: A biased view of what a company does. Yes they may be known for IT, but they will also have Finance, HR, Sales, Marketing and possibly Legal departments 
  3. Research – Keep an eye on the news and follow any particular company you are interested in. Have they made any acquisitions lately or won any business-related awards? Visit their websites to find out how and when they recruit and what they look for in successful candidates. Time with recruiters at the fair may be short so prior research means that you can quickly get beyond the basics.
    Employer pet hate: “So, what do you do?” Each company have provided a short paragraph about themselves for the programme and expect you to have at least read that. Got a smartphone? Look them up briefly before you approach the stand.
  4. CV – Prepare and take copies of an up-to-date CV with you to leave with recruiters if they request it. Carry them un-creased in a portfolio if you can. The Careers & Employability Service runs daily drop-in sessions for CV feedback and advice so take advantage of this in the run up.
  5. The Elevator Test – Prepare your 30 second verbal CV before you get there. Rehearse your answer to “How can I help you?” which is probably the first thing an exhibitor will say to you. Imagine you are in an elevator and you only have until it reaches the ground to make your introduction. This does not mean talk really fast but clearly and succinctly talk about what you are studying, the grade you aim to achieve and what sector you are interested in. Talk about your transferable skills and any extra-curricular activities which highlight your employability
    “Hello I’m Joe Smith. I’ve just entered the final year of my Psychology degree for which I’m predicted a 2:1. I’ve got a strong interest in retail management as I’ve had several part-time retail jobs and would be interested to find out more about opportunities with [company name]”
    Employer pet hate: “Meh, just looking” Mumbling, shrugging, no eye contact.
     
  6. Dress to impress – Your clothes need to reflect the impression you are trying to leave with the recruiter. You may be saying all the right things but ripped jeans and muddy boots are saying exactly the opposite. Make sure you are clean and presentable (you don’t need a suit!) and if you know what sector you are interested in tailor your dress code accordingly.
    Employer pet hates: chewing gum and having headphones on (“Are you listening to music or what I’m saying?”) 
  7. Ask questions – Have some questions in mind to ask the recruiter. Show you are interested in the company and the opportunities they are offering. What is the work like; what kind of entry-level jobs are available; what qualities do they look for. How did the person you are speaking to join the company, what is their experience of the graduate recruitment process and do they have any suggestions on how to prepare for a career in their organisation
    Employer pet hate: It stands repeating, “So, what do you do?” was the biggest pet hate 
  8. Follow up – Take a notepad and write down the names and contact details of people you meet and any useful information you have learned. Once you have left the stand make a note of your impressions of the organisation. Take business cards when they are offered and any company leaflets. Follow up any leads by simply thanking them for their time and saying how much you enjoyed meeting them, ask to be kept informed of future opportunities. Following up a contact with a polite, brief reminder of yourself helps you to stand out from the hundreds of people they may have spoken to during the day.

For more helpful tips check out

Medway students – book your place on a free shuttle bus to attend the fair!

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