Next week, on Thursday 28th January, the Internships, Work Experience & Volunteering Fair will be taking place in the Students’ Union Great Hall from 11am-3pm. If you are in first and second year this is a great opportunity for you to start networking and securing a placement or internship to build up your CV. However, you might have wondered what should you do when you attend a Careers fair?
Many students find coming to Careers Fairs a daunting experience because they don’t know what to expect. This results in either them not coming altogether and missing the chance of meeting top recruiters or not making enough of their attendance at the fair by just having a wander around and picking up a few freebies.
Careers fairs are all about marketing. While recruiters are marketing their organisations with impressive stands to attract successful students, you should also be marketing yourself to potential employers. Many top employers ‘talent spot’ the best students at these fairs so making yourself noticed and making a great impression can set you ahead of the competition.
How can you do this? Start by following our top tips:
1. Come to our employability sessions
As part of the Internships, Work Experience & Volunteering Week, sessions to increase your employability will be running from Monday 25th to Wednesday 27th January in the 4th floor of the Students’ Union. These workshops will be held by top graduate recruiters such as PwC, EY and Enterprise-Rent-A-Car on a range of topics including interview skills, assessment centres and commercial awareness. Here you will learn what employers expect from you and will boost your confidence when making a first approach.
If you don’t manage to attend all these sessions, remember that throughout the year Careers & Employability hold a number of workshops and CV clinics that may be useful. Furthermore, you are always welcome to talk to a careers advisor and discuss your possible career paths or any worry you might have.
2. Research the companies
Have a look at the web list of the companies coming on the Intranet or the list of exhibitors provided on the Facebook event a week before the fair. Research the organisations that catch your attention and decide which exhibitors you want to talk to. By deciding beforehand you will appear more focused than by just having a stroll around the fair. However, at the fair keep an open mind, it might happen that a recruiter approaches you from a company or sector you would have never considered before but sounds interesting once you talk to them.
3. Ask Questions
Recruiters expect students to do some preparation before approaching a stand so show you’ve researched their company by asking specific questions. Try to drop something like “I’ve seen in your website XYZ are your clients…” or “I’ve read you are recruiting for an Account Executive, what does that job entail?”. This will demonstrate that your interest is genuine.
It might also be a good idea to bring a few copies of your CV with you. Usually most companies have an online application process, however some smaller organisations might be happy to take your CV on the spot if they liked you. Furthermore, it is a great opportunity to ask recruiters for advice on how to improve your CV or how to put your experience into the right words to appeal to their company. For advice on creating a CV see Career Central or drop in at the Student Support Centre, 50 Park Place.
4. Contact details
Make sure you either give them your contact details so that they can send you updates on the organisations’ employability offers; or get the name and/or email address of the person on the stand. It looks great in a cover letter to mention who you met, what you talked about and how this encouraged you to apply for a specific position.
It can be difficult for students to stand up at fairs that is why following-up is crucial. It shows you really are keen to be part of the company. Hence, after the fair add the person you talked to on LinkedIn or send them an email. However, do not flood employers’ mailboxes! That would only result in being added to the recruiters’ black list of annoying wannabes.
Overall, remember that the key objective of attending a Careers Fairs is making a great first impression on a potential employer. Hence, the most Careers events you attend the better you will get at it.
Virginia, Employer Liaison Assistant
Careers & Employability Team
Your Student Life, Supported.
The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice & Money, Careers & Employability, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing, Disability & Dyslexia and International Student Support.
For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.