Graduate recruitment fairs
At best, recruitment fairs aren't just about glossy brochures and free pens and sweets. If you want to improve your chances of getting a graduate job, recruitment fairs can be a useful way to find out about different companies and make useful contacts.
What are graduate recruitment fairs?
Also known as careers fairs, they are events where graduate recruiters promote their company and try to attract new recruits. Many fairs also feature seminars and workshops to help you in your search for a job.
Careers advisor Saiyada Smith explains how to take advantage and get the most out of visiting a careers fair.
They take place around the country at universities or in large exhibition halls. Many are general interest, but some are targeted at specific careers, such as teaching, law, engineering or IT.
Who are they for?
It's important to remember that fairs help both companies and graduates. They give employers a chance to let graduates know what they have to offer, explain more about their company, and meet potential new recruits in person.
For graduates, they offer a chance to meet with several different companies, all under one roof. It can be a way of starting the process of choosing a career - or even an employer.
How should I prepare?
"My top three tips are to check out which employers are going to a fair, prepare your selling points and plan your day," says careers advisor Alexandra Hemingway from the University of Surrey, who also gives the following tips:
· Find the right fair for you. Don't assume that the nearest fair will be the best. If you're interested in working in a specific field there may be a fair that's targeted at your industry.
· Research is key to a successful visit. "Put together a list of the companies you want to talk to and focus on them," says Hemingway. Research as much as possible before you meet them - just asking what a company does and whether you can have a free sweet leaves a bad impression. "Practise on other companies before you speak to your chosen ones. That way you're less likely to make mistakes."
· Recruitment fairs can be exhausting, especially if you're trying to visit every company to get recruitment information. You'll end up with a massive bag of leaflets and freebies, which can weigh you down. So go early and plan your time, including any seminars you want to go to.
· Finally, make sure you're leaving a good impression. That means dressing smartly and having copies of your updated CV, in case an employer requests one.
Can recruitment fairs really help me get a job?
In a word: yes. It's still quite unusual to get a job offer on the spot at a fair, but if you have skills that are in demand, or you're approaching a small company, you might get lucky.
Even if you don't get a job offer, fairs can still help. They're a great opportunity to talk to recruiters in a less pressurised situation, so you can start to build contacts that could help you get a job later on. Chatting in an informal way will also give you confidence before crucial interviews. Some firms conduct screening interviews on the day, which could help you by-pass some of the recruitment process. Plus, you can get information about how to create a winning application form for their company, putting you on a path to something much better than a free key ring.
Written by Hannah Jolliffe
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