How to take advantage of careers fairs
The key to performing at your best level at a careers fair is to prepare thoroughly and ensure you have done your homework on attendees.
It is well worth planning in advance and noting which speakers and lecturers you want to listen to. It is also a good idea to research the individual companies that are attending, as this will allow you to pinpoint which stands to target and ensure that conversations flow more naturally.
As part of your prior research, work out why you want to work for particular companies and make sure you are aware of the major issues in the firm’s sector. That way, you will be in a better position to demonstrate your understanding and interest in their company once you engage in discussions.
Once at the fair, try to use every opportunity to make a good and self-confident first impression. Taking along well-prepared application documents such as your CV will contribute to a positive introduction.
‘Careers fairs are a fantastic opportunity to gain a deeper insight into the roles that are available to you and to meet new people,’ says Lee Owen, director at Hays, specialising in accountancy and finance. ‘Creating and expanding a network will prove essential for success throughout your accountancy profession, so start as you mean to go on by attending these lively and informative fairs.
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‘In order to network with confidence, my biggest piece of advice is to come prepared. Have your updated CV to hand as well as an idea of the route you want to take within the sector and the type of organisation you want to work for.
‘This means you can target the companies you feel drawn to and focus your efforts on impressing them. Your preparation and passion will shine through when conversing with potential employers.’
For 95% of all hiring managers, personal initiative and communication skills are among the most important soft skills that a candidate should possess. Keep that in mind when approaching a stand. Introduce yourself to the contact person, be open-minded and enthusiastically emphasise your skills in a few words.
If you have had an interesting conversation with an employer and you have their name, it is worth connecting with them on LinkedIn and thanking them for their help, or send them a follow-up email.
If an employer suggested sending them your CV, make sure you do this in good time.
It is also worth making notes on any tips or advice you received and, most importantly, take action – start those applications or make a note in your calendar of when they open.
Author: Alex Miller, writer
This article was first published in Student Accountant in March 2023 | Get the SA app now