How to Stand Out at a Careers Fair

You’ve got your careers fair ticket and you might have even planned your journey, but have you planned what you’ll do at the event?

You will be meeting with potential employers but so will thousands of other people who are in a similar boat to you. There are only so many positions available so you need to stand out and present yourself well.

But how do you do this? Don’t worry we have some great tipsfor making the most of your day at a careers fair which will be sure to giveyou that edge you need.

1. Do your research before the careers fair

It is highly unlikely that you would go into a restaurant without looking at a menu first. If you would, that carefree (and might we add, 'adventurous') attitude probably won’t help you at free to attend events like these.

Preparation is important at careers events. Look at the exhibitor list, find out who’s there and what they’re offering. If it appeals to you, mark them down on your floor plan and make sure you seek them out.

Most companies will have information about their work experience, apprenticeships, graduate schemes and other careers options online. So find out more about pathways and programmes and wow the exhibitor on the day. It shows you have initiative and makes you look professional and prepared.

Think about it from an exhibitor’s point of view: they’re going to be giving out the same speech about what their company offers the whole day. Just knowing a little something more about the company will push the conversation on and will immediately make you stand out from the crowd.

2. Perfect that CV

Your CV is essentially your business card at events like these – once the event is over, your CV is the only way that recruiter will remember who they’ve spoken to. So it’s important to make sure it will make an impression after you’ve long left the event.

Truth be told, you have a 6 second window before that recruiter bins your CV, so:

  • Don’t fit too much in – pick and choose what’s relevant and cut the rest so you have a CV of 1-1.5 pages at most
  • Format it properly – lay your CV out so that your employer doesn’t have to go searching for what they need to know about you
  • Spell check isn’t enough – get someone else (ideally someone who knows the difference between their, there, and they’re) to make sure you’re not making silly mistakes

Most careers fairs will also offer a CV Clinic. So if you’re still unsure, make sure you pop along for some good one-to-one advice with a professional.

Once you’re happy, print off multiple copies and have them ready to hand to recruiters on the day – you don’t want to be stood fishing one out of your bag and handing a crumpled up piece of paper to a potential employer. Get a folder (waterproof and crumpleproof preferably) and keep it in your hand while you’re walking around, ready to whip one out at a moment’s notice.

3. Fix up, look sharp

Brutal honesty: if you look sloppy on the outside, you’ll seem (and feel) sloppy on the inside. If recruiters are looking for employability skills like ‘attention to detail’ and you’ve still got remnants of that morning’s breakfast on your shirt, it’s not really going to make a stellar first impression. We know it sounds a bit extreme, but we have seen it happen before.

So why not dress to impress? Yes, it’s a day out from school or college. Yes, you may be spending the day with friends and family. But at the end of the day, you’re trying to network and create new contacts that will be useful for you in your future career.

We are not saying to get your tux out, but ask yourself if your ripped jeans, baggy t-shirt and battered trainers are unlikely to make a recruiter go “Wow, I’d like to hire them!”

If you’re not quite sure if your outfit’s okay, just follow this one simple rule: if you wouldn’t wear it in an office, don’t wear it to a careers fair.

4. After the careers event

Once you’ve left the exhibition hall, it’s important to follow up with people you’ve spoken to. Dropping them a simple email a few days after just to say thank you and how nice it was to meet them will make you look confident and eager to know more about the position.

Good luck - you've got this!

Visit What Career Live? & What University Live? – the essential event for school leavers. Find more information and book free tickets at WhatCareerLive.co.uk. If you are in London, join Springpod on 11th and 12th October to chat with us about discovering your future career with top employers in the UK.

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