You’ve got your ticket and you’re raring to get out there and meet your potential future employers.
But then comes the fear. You and thousands of other people your age will be competing for the same jobs and positions. And there’s only a limited number of positions available.
So how do you make yourself stand out from the crowd at a careers fair where everyone is looking to do the same thing?
Fear not – we have some great tips for making the most of your day at a careers fair which will be sure to give you that edge you need.
1. First of all, research
You wouldn’t go into a restaurant without looking at a menu first. And if you would, that carefree attitude probably won’t help you at events like these.
Preparation is key. Look at the exhibitor list, find out who’s there and what they’re offering and if it appeals to you, mark them down on your floor plan and make sure you seek them out. Most companies will have information about their apprenticeships and careers options online, so find out more about pathways and programmes and wow the exhibitor on the day. It shows you have initiative and makes you look professional and prepared.
Think about it from an exhibitor’s point of view: they’re going to be giving out the same speech about what their company offers the whole day long. Just knowing a little something more about the company will push the conversation on and will immediately make you stand out from the crowd.
2. Get that CV on point
Your CV is essentially your business card at events like these – once the event is over, your CV is the only way that recruiter will remember who they’ve spoken to, so it’s important to make sure it will make an impression after you’ve long gone.
You have a 6 second window before that recruiter bins your CV, so:
- Don’t fit too much in – pick and choose what’s relevant and cut the rest so you have a CV of 1-1.5 pages max
- Format it properly – lay your CV out so that your employer doesn’t have to go searching for what they need to know about you
- Spell check isn’t enough – get someone else (ideally someone who knows the difference between their, there and they’re) to make sure you’re not making silly mistakes
Most careers fairs will also offer a CV Clinic, so if you’re still unsure, make sure you pop along for some one-to-one advice with a professional.
Once you’re happy, print a load off and have them ready to hand to recruiters on the day – you don’t want to be stood fishing one out of your bag and handing a crumpled up piece of paper to a potential employer. Get a folder (waterproof, crumpleproof – basically idiot proof) and keep it in your hand while you’re walking around, ready to whip one out at a moment’s notice.
3. Fix up, look sharp.
Brutal honesty: if you look sloppy on the outside, you’ll seem sloppy on the inside. If recruiters are looking for skills like ‘attention to detail’ and you’ve still got remnants of that morning’s breakfast on your shirt, it’s not really going to make a stellar first impression.
You want to be taken seriously? Dress seriously. Yes, it’s a day out from school or college, yes, you may be spending the day with friends and family, but at the end of the day, you’re trying to network and create new contacts that will be useful for you in your future career.
I’m not saying get your tux out, but ask yourself if your ripped jeans, baggy t-shirt and battered trainers make a recruiter go ‘Wow, I’d like to hire them!’
Just to be clear: they won’t.
If you’re not quite sure if your outfit’s okay, just follow this one simple rule: if you wouldn’t wear it in an office, don’t wear it to a careers fair.
Once you’ve left the exhibition hall, it’s important to follow up with people you’ve spoken to so they don’t forget who you are. Dropping them a simple email a few days after just to say thank you and how nice it was to meet them will make you look confident and eager to know more about the position.
Check out our Advice Centre, or pop along to What Career Live? and What University Live? if you need any more hints, tips or careers advice. Full information of what will be happening on the day is available on the exhibition pages.