Guest blog written by RateMyPlacement
Careers fairs are designed to give undergraduates and employers a platform to meet, interact and discuss potential careers.
They are a chance for you to meet an experienced professional face-to-face, and find out what is like to work for a particular company, or to work in a specific sector. The employers you meet in gatherings like this could also be useful contacts for finding employment before or after you graduate.
A careers fair is a valuable opportunity for you take a positive step towards starting a career while you’re still at university.
So here is a guide on how to talk to employers at a careers fair, and a few points for you to consider to ensure you get the most out of the experience.
How to introduce yourself
Careers fairs are usually staged in an informal setting. It is not a job interview, and you do not need to act as if you are meeting the Queen. Neither are you meeting friends for a Sunday session at your local pub.
When you first meet an employer, be calm and professional. A handshake will do. Tell them your name, what you are studying and which career path you are interested in.
If you are looking forward to a career in engineering, and you are attending a fair that is dedicated to careers in the legal industry, perhaps you are not in the right place. However, the experience of meeting employers is valuable all the same, so do not make for the exit.
It is also a good idea to let the employer know the kind of experience you’re looking for early on in the conversation. The employer will know straight away when it is you will be looking for a placement year or internship, and what opportunities you will be suitable for.
Have you done your research?
After you’ve introduced yourself, you need to keep the conversation going. It’s crucial that you do some company-specific or industry research before the fair.
Have a look the company’s website and social media platforms. Find out if the company has been in the news recently. What major projects are they currently involved in? Most importantly, research what opportunities the company offers for undergraduates and graduates.
This will ensure you have a genuine and considered response to the question – ‘What is it that attracts you to a career with this company?’
What is the best way to stay in contact?
The employers you meet at a careers fairs are valuable contacts to have when you’re looking for an undergraduate role. Even if they do not offer you a position directly, they can advise you on application processes, and put you forward for other positions that are available.
So bring your CV with you, and have multiple copies on hand.
Some employers might be unwilling to give out contact details to scores of students, and will direct you to their company’s website. Do not worry if this happens. Add them on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the Facebook for professionals, and a fantastic online platform for networking with employers.
You should consider printing off some business cards. It will make you look professional, well-prepared and is a way of standing out from your peers.
All you need to include is your name, contact details, (perhaps your LinkedIn profile), with your area of study, year of graduation and your specific career aspirations.
Remember, practice makes perfect; it may be a cliche, but it is true when it comes to talking to employers at careers fairs. The more events you attend, and the more employers you speak to, the more confident and refined your approach will be.