Whether you’re in university of not, careers fairs are an excellent way of screening all the job opportunities available to you in a distilled and accessible fashion. Instead of wading through hundreds of online applications, careers fairs allow you to get up close and personal with the people who might potentially become your employer.
Careers fairs are a gold-mine for networking. You have nothing to lose from being there so our overall advice, above all things, is just to try it out. My favourite quote on succeeding is from Woody Allen who once said that: “80 percent of success is showing up”.
That’s the exact attitude to have at careers fairs. Go down with a few friends, a folder of CVs and an open-mind – you might just walk away with a job.
1. Strategise beforehand
There’s a lot to be said for taking it as it comes but, if you’ve never been to a careers fair, let us tell you, they are hectic. Imagine hundreds of people crammed around rickety displays trying to throw their CVs into the mix as they yell to prospective employers about whether the company provides dental – it’s an animal house.
The smartest way to approach a careers fair is with a plan in mind. You could go as far as to figure out where the stalls you want to visit will be and mark your route but that might be pushing it. Have a list of people you want to speak to ready and things will become a lot easier.
2. Don’t write off companies before speaking to them
Just because a company isn’t advertising jobs in your field, don’t totally write them off before speaking to them. You might have some unique skills the company is interested in investing in. The worst a company can say to you is that they’re not interested – there’s plenty more fish in the sea.
3. Don’t to ‘drive-by’ CV drops
In the hustle-and-bustle of a careers fair, it’s tempting to rush in, drop a thousand CVs down and get the hell out of dodge. While you might think this ‘spray-and-pray’ method will increase your chances, we’ve got bad news for you, employers hire people, not sheets of A4. If you want to get noticed, you’ve got to work for some face-time.
4. Have a few questions prepared yourself
It’s all well and good answering questions with enthusiasm but firing some queries of your own at a job representative shows that you genuinely care about the position. Try and get creative with your questions, don’t ask sub-standard and predictable questions like: “What does the role entail?”. Take advantage of your natural curiosity.
5. Treat each conversation like a mini-interview
Every conversation or networking chat you have will be another impression you’re leaving on the market. Think of careers fairs as practice for every interview you’ll be attending because of all the amazing impressions you left on potential employers.