Your Guide to Career Open days
Career Open Days of any kind have been put on the backburner over the last couple of years and we don’t need an explanation as to why. Events everywhere have been cancelled, but without company recruitment events, open days, and the chance to network in person, job seeking became a bit repetitive.
There have been online events and various zoom calls that companies and employers have set up for people, but are they really the same as visiting a booth in person and having one of those ‘unplanned’ conversations?
Job seeking is more than just looking for a new job. Yes, that is the desired outcome when you start job searching, but is that it? Or do you miss the idea of handing out your CV to employers, learning more about a company and even being able to network with other likeminded engineers like yourself?
In person events have something special about them. They are about getting to know others and sharing your experience. They can also be very daunting, but they do get you outside, out of your comfort zone and ready to try something new.
So, what exactly is a career open day?
A career open day event usually happens when an employer has a wide range of different roles to fill. These jobs might be across the wider organisation and may not be subject to just one area of expertise. However, they will usually separate the day into sectors so as an engineer, you aren’t accidently talking to hiring managers that specialise in HR for example. (Even though I’m sure they’d let you know)
An event like an open day is usually the first stage in the interview process and is a great way to get to know the employer, learn more about them and network. It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to network with likeminded people in our field, so these events can be well enjoyed without the intention of looking for a specific job.
Events like these give the employee a chance to see a wide range of prospective candidates all at once. This is usually the first stage of an interview process. They get to know you, you get the chance to have a chat and find out more before submitting a formal application and more often than not, if successful, you are called in for a more formal interview after this event.
Open days are always a good idea. They may cause some nerves at the beginning, but once you get used to them, they can be really enjoyable.
So, what is the point in attending these company open days?
It’s important to try and take this time to get a really good feel for the company. It’s one thing to sit at home, scrolling and researching an employer, but a completely different experience when you actually go to one of these events and discuss questions with the staff.
This time is well spent going to talk to professionals in the field. Not only are you there to talk to the employer and the hiring managers, but you can take this time to network as well. Sometimes the events are hosted in the employer’s building. If this is the case, you can get a really good feel for the place, see what it’s like to travel there and see if you enjoy the workspace itself.
This may not always be an option, due to health and safety, but open days still allow you to get a good sense of the people you will be working with. Either way, it can be really good to get off the job sites and into the real world for a while.
A bit of variation in the way you look for jobs can be beneficial to you and your job search. Sitting inside all day in front of a screen isn’t the healthiest way to spend your day and when things start to get repetitive, it can really cause us to feel demotivated. So, use these opportunities to your advantage when they present themselves!
A career open day is all about learning more about the employer, the jobs they currently have vacant and what they are looking for in a candidate. The overall idea is to come away from the event with more knowledge on the company and if you believe they could be a good fit for you and what you’re looking for in a new role.
It’s important to stay open minded and do a bit of research before you get there. First of all, a bit of an understanding on the company, what they do and any current projects they may have is a good place to start. You wouldn’t go to an interview without a bit of a background on the employer and I wouldn’t suggest starting now.
The point in your research is to fill in any missing gaps in your knowledge but to also see what other things you may want to know. Preparing a selection of questions in advance is a good advantage. You will go in knowing what you want to find out and you now have a purpose to the day. Even if you don’t find any particular roles you would like at the event, at least you can walk away with a better understanding and you can use this information in the future. Just because they might not have anything for you now, doesn’t mean they won’t do in the future. Job seeking is all about setting yourself up for success, even when the opportunity isn’t in your sight.
Also take some time to read up on the event itself. Have they provided information about the teams that are hiring? Have they provided contact details for the hiring managers that will be present? Have they mentioned what kind of engineers they are on the lookout for?
All valid questions that are important to know beforehand. If not, then these are just more questions you can ask on the day.
The main thing you want to be prepared for is networking. Understand that it might be a very draining event to attend. People can sometimes underestimate how much work it is to talk to people all day. So, make sure to rest, have everything ready ahead of time and most importantly, enjoy the experience!
Much like an interview, it can be a good idea to have everything prepped and ready ahead of time, so you don’t have anything to worry about on the day of the event.
It’s not like an interview, so you don’t have to worry about bringing your entire portfolio along with you. Don’t bring everything. You don’t need a laptop, examples of your work, an overload of pens and anything else you overpack when attending these events. You should bring a few, easy to carry things that will get you through the day. These include:
Your CV – You can hand this out to hiring managers and other employees of the company that may ask for it. If you think there may be a good jo opportunity there or you would like to progress to interview stages after this encounter, having your CV ready and waiting can only be an advantage.
Business cards – Not everyone will have business cards, but it’s a good thing to have when attending these events. Your CV is for hiring managers whereas business cards are for the other people you may meet. Networking is a very important aspect of job seeking and being able to hand out your phone number and email address without fumbling through your phone is just the easier option.
Your phone – No one wants to forget their phone for obvious reasons. It might be needed to find the place; you might want to be able to add people to your LinkedIn network. Whatever the reason, your phone is always an important thing to not forget. Just make sure it’s on silent during the event.
Depending on the company and the nature of the event, if a hiring manager spots talent and thinks you might be a good fit for the role, they might invite you to take part in an open interview.
An open interview is when employers find candidates that would be a good fit for the role, at open days or other networking events and conduct on-site interviews in groups or as individuals. These are usually very informal conversations and is a chance for them to get to know you a little better, rather than just reading your CV and moving on. It’s also a great chance for you to ask any questions. Face to face interactions like this can feel scary when they aren’t expected so just be wary of these events and be prepared! They aren’t like formal interviews though, so no need to panic.
Theses interviews can be group discussions, where other people are invited to talk and discuss as likeminded professionals. So not only does the hiring manager get to know you, but they get to see how you interact with others and being put under pressure.
It’s important to point out that these aren’t very common, but they may happen, so if you’ve never heard of them before, now is the time to get your research done. If you’d like more information, we have an article here about group interviews. This can help you prepare for the similar dynamic of an open interview.
Networking is a huge bonus to events like this. Even if you don’t end up meeting anyone that could bring value to your job search, it’s still good to get out there and talk to other job seekers. It can be hard when you’re sat at home all day, looking at job sites. Sometimes a bit of conversation can go a long way and leave you feeling refreshed.
For some, this can feel like the worst thing in the world. It can be difficult to go to these events, put yourself out there and talk to new people. It is scary and a lot of people don’t realise this is how others feel. However, can you imagine if you never went to these events? You wouldn’t know about a lot of amazing opportunities. You might not end up meeting someone that would change the way you think about job seeking or even help you find a job.
Networking is great. It gives you a chance to meet people you otherwise wouldn’t have and gives you a chance to talk to the members of staff. Understand how they feel about the organisation and learn things that google just can’t teach you.
You can read more here about the importance of networking and some ideas on how to tackle these events.
Just like you would after an interview, make sure you are sending follow up emails.
These events give you the opportunity to talk to a lot of people and the employers spend a of their time talking too. So, to put it nicely, it can be very difficult for you to be remembered, especially when there are loads of people with similar experience and qualifications.
Make sure you are talking to the hiring managers and anyone you see the opportunity to talk to at these events and if you find interest in what they are saying or the job they’re trying to fill, give them your CV. But also ask for their contact details, it’s likely that they’ll be more than happy to share them with you.
If you find that you’re running out of time, just speak briefly to people. Find out what they are looking for in a candidate and hand them your CV. These events sometimes have so much to do and so many different people to talk to that it’s impossible to see everyone. So, make sure you are getting their contact details instead.
A follow up letter or email just shows them that you are still interested, thank them for their time (even if you didn’t get much of it) and ask them about the vacancy. Is it still available? Would they want your CV sent over to them again? DO whatever it takes to be noticed.
A follow up email can be very important if you attended any inhouse events, talks or open interviews. Just ensure them that you would love to speak to them again. More about follow up letters can be found here.
Networking can be important for a number of reasons, but if you are job seeking and love these kind of events, going to one is a great way to find out about many others!
When it’s a company specific open day, it can be hard to determine when there will be another one. These days are usually created so they can do it all at once. So, the best way to find out about others, for different companies is to ask around.
Some recruitment events are for multiple employers. So, you may find out about a recruitment fair, instead of a company specific event. Either way, ask around. Talk to people. There may even be employers from other companies there, ready and waiting to find some talent for their own organisation. (It happens!) Stay on the lookout, be alert and get ready to network.
There is a lot of chance for opportunity at career open days and they differ between companies. But the goal is to find candidates, talk to them and invite them back for interviews. This way, they may find people that wouldn’t have applied online. And you may find roles that aren’t posted online. It’s a win-win!