It’s that time of the academic year when recruiters are on campus promoting their brand, meeting students and trying to get them to apply to their graduate and placement schemes. One of the ways companies do this is at a careers fair – you know, the huge scary room, full of giant stands, littered with giveaways, brochures and company representatives waiting to speak to you. The good news? This really is your opportunity to engage with recruiters or employees from companies to find out what they’ve got to offer, so here are our five top tips to get the best out of a careers fair.
Research the organisations that you want to talk to
Nothing gets my goat more than a student who says “So…what company is this and what do you do?” Research the organisation beforehand, go through their website, find out what roles they offer, what qualifications are required – and whether it’s a company that is aligned with your own goals; you could even look up their recruiter on LinkedIn and connect with them beforehand. That way, you can try this approach instead: “Hi, my name is….and I currently study BA Business Management. I’ve been doing some research on your organisation as I’m really interested in your 12 month placement scheme, could you please tell me some more about the application process.” It’s all about first impressions! When companies are at career fairs they are looking for talent, so if you approach recruiters in the right way then they will respond positively!
Personal brand is everything when it comes to companies looking for their future leaders. If you show up looking like looking like you’ve been out all night, then you are showing no sense of personal brand. Take some pride in your appearance. Would you turn up to an interview looking like this? First impressions count in any situation. I’m not saying you need to come in full business dress, but remember that you want a graduate job, so give yourself the best opportunity to stand out from the crowd by dressing smartly and approaching me with a smile on your face.
Bring a good up-to-date CV with you
OK, so you’ve created a good first impression and I’m thinking you’ve got potential and I want to follow up with you after the careers fair so I ask for your CV – except you don’t have one. How are you standing out from the crowd now? Take several copies of a generic CV with you (even better – tailor one beforehand as part of your preparation) so that you can leave it with me. Some companies may just tell you to apply online, but encourage them to keep the CV anyway or take the opportunity talk a bit about yourself and the skills you could bring to the role – show them you’re more than just a name on an application.
Don’t fill up on the freebies with your mates
Yes, most organisations have freebies; it’s their way of keeping their brand visible when you get home and to make their stands look enticing so you stop by. However, this isn’t some competition where the aim is to fill up as many bags as possible with free stuff; it’s an opportunity to interact and engage with a potential future employer and gather information. For that reason I’d always recommend going to a careers fair on your own (rather than travelling in a pack) so that you can have some one-on-one time with a recruiter.
Always follow up
The hard work’s been done, the fair is over, you’ve met some great employers, left a few CVs and come away with some great company information, but how many contact details did you get? If you truly want to set yourself apart from the competition and give yourself an opportunity to work for your dream company then make sure you collect contact information and follow up with an email or a personalised request on LinkedIn. This will look great to recruiters.
If you researched the company well, looked smart, left a CV on the day, made an individual impression, then followed up with an email saying how great it was to meet and how you’re looking forward to hearing back from me, your chances are pretty good. And while you’re waiting, why not check out the current opportunities at Enterprise and make sure there’s nothing you’ve missed?