Careers Fairs – How to make them work for you!

If you are in Carlisle tomorrow why not drop into the Sands Centre for a careers fair – the Carlisle Skills Fair from 2-8 pm. (2-4 pm primarily for jobseekers and 4-8 pm primarily for school leavers).

Here are a few tips for getting the most out of attending a careers fair.

skills-fair-sands-centre

Plan ahead

Do your research! Double check the date, time and location of the event, research which employers are attending, and which employers are currently recruiting. You probably won’t be offered a job on the spot, but if you can tailor your approach to the different employers present, it will show them that you have prepared thoroughly. If you don’t have a list of organisations you’d like to work for, careers events can also give you a chance to find out more about other employers, and give you an opportunity to network.

Take your CV

Just the same as employers handing out freebies to promote their company, you can promote yourself too! It’s a good idea to take along items that you can leave with employers so that you leave a lasting impression. This can be your CV (tailored to each company, of course!), along with a short cover letter perhaps, highlighting your skills and what you can offer. Alternatively you could take along some business cards, with your contact details and career goal on one side, and a memorable fact or achievement on the other.

Create an elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is a short speech you can use to quickly and simply outline you and your career goals to a prospective employer. The name “elevator pitch” comes from the idea that you should be able to deliver your pitch in the time span of an elevator ride (between thirty seconds to two minutes). The term itself comes from a scenario of an accidental meeting with someone important in the elevator. If the conversation inside the elevator in those few seconds is interesting and value adding, the conversation will continue after the elevator ride or end in exchange of contact details or a scheduled meeting. Use your elevator pitch to quickly and succinctly show how you are a good fit for the organisation and what skills and experience you have.

Network

Don’t just grab the freebies and run – have a chat with people. Careers fairs are an informal way to meet employers and they give you a great opportunity to practise talking to recruiters without the pressure of a formal interview. You could talk about relevant experience such as an internship or work placement in a similar field. Even if your experience isn’t directly relevant to that company, it might be useful to talk about why you want to work there, or more generally about your career motivations and interests. Don’t hang around too long though – don’t outstay your welcome! Move on once you have had your questions answered and have made a lasting impression.

Dress professionally

This is probably fairly obvious – you never know who you are going to run into when you attend a career event so act and present yourself as a professional, both to the employers and to other job seekers. You are there to meet potential employers and first impressions count; it’s important to dress appropriately to make the right impression.

Follow up

Make sure that you take along a notepad and pen, or collect business cards from employers that you are interested in. Then after the event you can follow up with a short email a few days later. Thank them for their time and ask for a short 10-15 minute networking meeting. Even if you don’t have much success on the day – not a lot of people get offered a job there and then – it doesn’t mean you can’t have success a few days afterwards. 

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