Careers advice and planning

Graduate careers fairs

11 Oct 2023, 14:59

Careers fairs are a chance to make personal contact with leading graduate recruiters, and allow you to meet many employers in a short period of time.

people attending a fair

Careers fairs are a great opportunity to make personal contact with leading graduate employers, and allow you to meet many employers in a short period of time. You will collect a lot of useful information. And you will be able to distribute your CV, with the possibility of setting up future interviews. These events usually take place early in the first semester of the academic year. Check with your careers service for dates and venues of their fairs or see the events calendar on this site.

What to expect at a graduate careers fair

The registration desk is usually situated inside the main entrance. You will be asked to sign in and will be given a free programme which will help you find the companies you are interested in. Most fairs consist of company stands manned by Human Resources personnel, or other company representatives, who briefly talk one-on-one with students interested in their company. Some employers will approach you, but in most cases you will have to make the first move. Be prepared to wait if there are large numbers of students at the stand.

What to do at a careers fair

Before the careers fair

Find out which companies are coming. Research companies you are interested in – this will allow you to ask intelligent questions on the day. Know why you want to work for each company and be able to express your skills, accomplishments and goals in a clear, concise manner. Update your CV and have it reviewed by your careers service. Bring along plenty of copies. Prepare your 'quick sell' to employers, for example: 'I will be graduating in June with a degree in economics and I am interested in obtaining a graduate position in the area of financial services. Can you tell me if you will have opportunities for graduates in this area of your company?'

On the day

Make sure you get the name and position of the person you meet at the stand. If they work in a different area than the one you are interested in, get the name of the person responsible for hiring graduates in your area. Make a note of your discussion after you finish speaking with each company. Don’t expect to be offered a job at the fair, but try to interest them in inviting you to an interview at a later date. If you expect companies to make contact with you for a follow-up interview, make sure you have a serious message on your voicemail. Leave your interview suit at home – employers don’t expect students to dress formally when attending a careers fair – but it’s a good idea to be dressed in ‘smart casual’ to impress prospective employers.

After the fair

Follow-up is very important, but is often neglected. Send letters to employers that interested you and thank the person that you met for their time. Include another CV. Restate your interest in a graduate position with the company and suggest that you would very much like to receive an interview.

Questions to ask

  • Do you hire graduates from courses similar to mine?
  • When should I begin to apply in relation to my graduation date?
  • How many positions do you anticipate filling this year?
  • When can I expect to hear from you if I am being called for a formal interview?

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