How to get the most out of recruitment events and career fairs

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 17 Apr 2019

Recruitment events are a great way to meet recruiters and get to know more businesses in your industry that are hiring. This could include companies in your area or even ones that you may think are worth commuting or relocating for. Having a variety of different companies in one space is very convenient for job-seekers and can be a good way to use your time when job-hunting to find some useful contacts. You are able to speak to the employees or hiring manager of specific companies before actually applying for the role. This can be a useful way of finding out whether the job or employer could be for you - or not. The staff can help answer any questions you may have about the job role or the company itself and having that extra level of communication can help with your decision making. Job fairs can sometimes be a bit stressful but there are plenty of ways you can prepare yourself to make the most of the opportunity.

Come prepared

Make sure you have updated your CV before you think about attending a careers fair. Make sure you are looking at the small details on your CV, it’s important to spell check and make sure all of your contact details are still correct. You can also tailor your CV to the different organisations that will be there, you can research the event and find out who you may be interested in. This will take a little bit more time, but the recruiter will appreciate all the effort. If you are going to tailor your CV’s, it may be a good idea to keep your different versions organised in a binder, so they don’t get mixed up. If you are a freelance worker, it can be good to take your business cards as well as your CV. These can have your online portfolios on there and will make it easier for employers to find you online.  There may be presentations or seminars happening throughout the day as well, so make sure you have the times noted somewhere as they tend to fill up quickly. You wouldn’t want to miss out.

Dress Appropriately

You should always dress for the job you want, so make sure it is fitting to the roles you may be applying for. Some career events can last for hours, or even the whole day, so it is very important that you are comfortable. You want to dress appropriately, so something smart casual can help with both the professionalism and comfort elements.

What businesses are you interested in?

Make sure you do your research. There is usually an events page available to view with potential names of employers that will be at the fair. If a particular business strikes your interest, make sure you do a bit of research before you approach them. You want to make a good first impression and if you know some background information about the company, you are more likely to be able to think of more focused questions. It can be good to prepare some questions in advance for events like this, because some organisations can offer on the spot interviews. It would be good to have something prepared whatever happens. Prioritise your time effectively. If there is a handful of people you are interested in, give yourself enough time to speak to them all and prioritise them from most to least important for your job search. This will help you get around the fair in good time and get everything you wanted out of it.

Introduce yourself

You want to make sure you are introducing yourself appropriately to the employer. Make sure you are ready to introduce yourself and be ready for any questions they may have. Remain professional and be ready to provide a copy of your CV, make sure you are not rushing through paper work looking unorganised. It is always good to maintain a positive mindset and be ready to answer questions about your career interests, experience and about your job search. Make sure it’s not just them asking the questions, despite it can be very nerve-wracking to be in this situation, it is good to ask questions and have an engaging conversation. This is a great networking opportunity, so make sure to be professional to achieve the right impact.

Ask for their contact information and about the next steps

When you have invested time talking to the recruiter, you may form a liking to the company. If so, it’s important to ask for either the companies contact details or for their employee business card. This keeps you in direct contact with the company or the representative. This way, you can email with applications if needed later on and maybe send a follow-up email thanking them for the information from the career fair. It’s just a little extra something, showing them your interest and determination will never go unnoticed. It’s a professional habit to ask for their business cards and can be an opportunity for you to hand out yours, it can work both ways. Make sure you give them a reason to remember you.

Try to be open and flexible

There can be instances where the company’s name is listed on the event page, but they are unable to attend on the day. In cases like this, it can be important to go in with your head held high and be open to other organisations. There is no harm in talking around and trying to find something different on the day. Even though it is good to be organised, not everything can be planned perfectly. There may also be specific jobs advertised, but when you go and speak to the company, the job is no longer open. Some things can be unpreventable. Be sure to talk to the representative, presenting your interest for the company and your career goals and there may be opportunity for another position. Never lose faith because of a small bump in the road, there will always be another opportunity.

Career fairs can be about that extra personal touch. It can allow you to have a much bigger impact compared to just applying online, they get a chance to see your personality and get to know you, rather than just an application. You can meet the business and also other candidates that are on the job-hunt. A great networking opportunity for any job-seeker! You will be getting involved and having a more hands-on approach to job hunting. It’s an opportunity to learn and broaden your horizons, why wouldn’t you try?