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How to make the most out of a careers fair

A careers fair is a great way for you to find graduate jobs, work placements and internships. It’s important to prepare carefully so you can make the most of the opportunities on offer. Here are some useful tips to consider.

By April Baniqued. Published 10 April 2024.

Research who will be attending

Most fairs will give a rundown of the organisations attending. With time being limited, it’s worth making a list of the top businesses you’d like to network with.

Arrive early to make sure you have time to locate each stand and beat the crowd, especially during lunchtime. Also, to ensure a great first impression, avoid visiting your favourite employers first, instead talk to other businesses for practice.

Remember, the list is simply a guide. Don’t completely dismiss the other stands. Be open-minded. A business may not be well-known but may be exactly what you’re looking for. There will also be free services you can take advantage of. This includes CV checking and careers advice stands.

You may find yourself frequently queuing up for stands but remember networking doesn’t have to just apply to businesses. Make use of the time by talking with other students in the line. You may be surprised to find they have useful advice or are valuable connections in the future.

Memorise your introduction

You want to make a great first impression so our advice is to prepare a short introduction to ease the pressure. State your name, what you’re studying and the kind of experience or role you’re looking for.

Whilst talking, keep your shoulders back, maintain eye contact and practice active listening to show confidence and attentiveness. First impressions count for a lot, so remember to dress for success too by wearing smart clothes and having copies of your updated CV readily available. 

Prepare questions to ask

This can be regarding what skills they’re looking for, the company culture and any relevant experience needed.

Research the organisations beforehand so you can gain more insight. Mentioning what you’ve learned in the questions will also show genuine interest in the role and help the conversation flow better.

Here are some example questions:

  • I noticed on your website that your company culture is described as <insert description>. Is that how you would describe it?
  • I saw from your website that you offer an interesting graduate scheme. Could you tell me more about <insert specific part of the programme>?
  • I’ve done some research about the work experience available but I couldn’t see information on your website about the time commitment around studying. I can do X hours per week, would that be suitable?
  • What are some key traits you consider in your selection process, both personality and skills-wise?
  • When do applications open and how do I apply?

Don’t forget to take initiative and ask for their name and contact details. Don’t be shy about asking people if you can connect with them on LinkedIn, this is great way to continue the conversations after the event.

You may also be asked questions in return. Don’t be afraid to answer them informally but ensure you keep some level of professionalism. Practice some common interview questions with friends and family to get ready for this.

Remember to hand them a copy of your CV at the end of the conversation.

Make notes

With so much to dive into, it's easy to let important information slip your mind. Once you leave a stand, take a few minutes to record your thoughts. Write down the key details like submission deadlines for applications, the entry requirements and their contact details. Also, note down your overall impressions. Did you feel comfortable with the employer? Did the company culture seem welcoming? Did the everyday routine of the role seem interesting?

Setting a realistic goal can also help. Targets will give you motivation and a better idea of how the day went. You could also include objectives, like speaking to a certain number of companies.

This information may also be helpful in the future. If you are offered an interview, you can use these notes to prepare.

Contact them

This is the most important step: follow up. Employers will talk to many students throughout the day, so this is a chance for you to stand out and remind them who you are.

Promptly reach out after the fair by connecting and messaging them on LinkedIn or sending a quick email. Thank them for their time, reintroduce yourself and reinforce your interest in their relevant opportunities.

You can start applying for the jobs that are open, and add any later job openings to your calendar with an alert. Keep everything you’ve learned in mind when applying. Was there a certain requirement you forgot to include in your CV? Add it before submitting the application.

 

Are you interested in further developing your business skills? Take a look at our range of postgraduate business courses and enrol today.