9 ways to make a great impression at careers fairs

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Careers fairs, at university or otherwise, are an important resource for job seekers. They offer an excellent opportunity to introduce yourself to potential employers and market yourself in your chosen industry. Even if you don’t get graduate jobs offers as a direct result of the fair, they can be valuable in expanding your network, learning about the industry, gathering company information, honing interview skills, building up your confidence meeting potential employers…the list goes on.

To make the most of careers fairs and the connections you make you need to ensure your first impression makes a memorable impact.  It is important to remember that anyone you meet at the fair could be prospective employer, so you want to stand out in a positive way.

Here are a few tips on how to maximise your chance of success at a careers fair:

  1. Prepare for the event. Write and practise a short marketing pitch about yourself so when a recruiter asks about your background you will be able to answer confidently. Think of some questions you can ask and also come up with some answers to questions you may be asked.  For example, “Why would you like to work at … Company?”
  2. Do your research. Research the companies attending the event so you can impress the recruiter with your pro-activity and knowledge, be able to communicate effectively and present yourself in a way that relates to the needs of the company.
  3. Dress appropriately. This doesn’t necessarily mean wearing a suit but do make sure that you show you take pride in your appearance and look smart. Recruiters will recognise and appreciate if you have taken time to dress appropriately and will focus on listening to you and your potential with the company.
  4. Make a strong first impression. Approach the recruiter confidently, with a smile, look them in the eye, offer a firm handshake and introduce yourself confidently, “Hello, my name is Jimmy, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
  5. Have business cards and CVs at hand. Make sure your CV is updated, error-free and highlights your skills and experiences in a broad way that can apply to many positions.
  6. Don’t be shy. As with all forms of networking, it is daunting to approach strangers to chat about your careers opportunities, but you will almost always be met with a friendly response.  Make sure you speak clearly, do not interrupt and ask open-ended questions that will help you gather information and show you are interested in the company.  Remember to ask for a business card!
  7. Take mints but avoid chewing gum. No one likes smelly breath, especially your future boss but avoid chewing gum, this is not a good look!
  8. Be open to new opportunities. Careers fairs offer a great opportunity to find out about companies and jobs that you may never have even considered before. So keep your mind open to new opportunities, you never know what you might discover!
  9. Follow up. After the event, if you obtained any email addresses, send a thank-you email to any employers you feel you had a positive meeting with. This will ensure that the employer remembers you and makes another good impression. It will show your professionalism and interest and maintains an open line of communication. Keep it professional, to the point and remember to proof read it. Thank them for their time and express that you have a keen interest in working for the company and mention why this job is such a great fit for you.

So next time a you are planning to attend a careers fair make sure you remember to do your research, update your personal profile and practise those handshakes and marketing pitches. Easy! 

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