Are careers fairs worth your time, effort and expense? Is it possible to make a meaningful impression on anyone in such a huge crowd of job seekers?
Our advice is go, go, go! After all, these fairs are full of powerful corporate reps whose only mission for the day is to talk to the talent, that is, you. With the right strategy, you can really make this work to your benefit.
We’ve put together nine top tips from the business leaders on the Flying Start XP Team to help you make your mark and get what you need.
Talk to the Right People – you won’t want to and won’t be able to talk to everyone, so do your research ahead of time, and make a list of your top 5 target employers.
Treat these chats like informal interviews, and make sure you know all about the companies, have intelligent questions prepared, and that you have had a look at their application process so you can ask for tips. Have copies of your CV ready, as some employers will happily take these away.
These are some of the top employers attending along with us at the What Career Live? event in Birmingham in March 2017.
Follow up your leads – chances are you’ll have at least one or two really exciting chats with a great contact. Don’t be afraid to follow these up with an email. You’d be surprised how rarely employers get a well-written, professional follow-up email.
Work the Room – careers fairs can be large and confusing, so research the floor plan ahead of time and think about where you’ll be and when. Book the skills sessions you really need ahead of time. If you want to target a potentially popular employer, approach them early in the day or towards the end of the session, when it’s less chaotic.
Give your CV a makeover – have your CV as polished as you can make it, and bring it along to seek out expert opinions. It isn’t every day that you get a free review of possibly your most important job-seeking tool.
Rehearse your pitch – the night before, tell your bathroom mirror, your mum or your flatmate who you are, what you’ve done, and what you’re looking for – ‘Hello, I’m Kate, I’m a Business student from Nottingham. I’m looking for an apprenticeship at a major company where I will be challenged and can use all the hands-on experience I’ve gained through my college studies’.
Dress your best – business attire is a safe bet, but smart casual can also be appropriate at these high-intensity events. Basically, you want your confidence and professionalism to stand out, not a slogan on a shirt or the fact you’re wearing trainers and jeans.
Go it alone – you’ll seem more professional and you’ll be more likely to get the information and personal contact you need if you approach employers solo. Friends, mums and boy / girlfriends will almost certainly not help your cause.
Mix it up – don’t talk to 15 employers one after the other, as your effectiveness will reduce drastically. Do the CV clinic, eat lunch, and attend some of the talks and panels too. We’ll be running some workshops at the What Career Live? event this March 2017 on nailing the key skills employers look for, and would love to see you there.
Make notes – you’ll have information overload after a whole day of skills sessions and exciting chats with potential employers. Take a notebook, digital or otherwise, and record key moments. Obviously, don’t enter notes onto a digital device whilst speaking to someone – this isn’t a good look.
Most of all, relax, be yourself, and enjoy a day dedicated to talking and learning about your future.
Flying Start XP will be running workshops and giving advice at the What Career Live? event on 3rd and 4th March 2017 https://www.whatcareerlive.co.uk/book-now