In our final blog Careers Relationship Manager, Charlie Statham, gives us an insight into how you can prepare for the annual MSc Careers Fair.
About the Fair:
Careers fairs give you the chance to meet employers face-to-face, and to learn about current vacancies and opportunities available. The recruiters are trying to market their organisations to you.
Cass holds its annual careers fair during the induction period before term begins – this year it is taking place on Monday the 19th of September between 14:00 and 17:30 at etc. venues, 155 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 3YD.
Why do we hold it so early? We hold it at this time because many of the employers attending the fair will have already opened their graduate recruitment process and many will have deadlines for applications in October / November
The fair is an opportunity for you to ask questions and market yourself to potential employers. Often the stands will be manned by graduate recruitment staff, recent alumni and / or senior managers. It can be difficult for students to stand out at Fairs as there are so many people there and it can seem overwhelming. Being prepared therefore is the best way to make a good impression and get noticed.
How to prepare:
Do your research – Do your research beforehand so you can use the time during the fair to ask intelligent, business-focused questions to company representatives, this way you can really stand out. Refer to the company profiles in the fair guide you will receive during induction as well as their company websites / company LinkedIn profiles / Company Twitter feeds, to work out which companies you want to speak to and learn more about what they do and the opportunities they offer.
Plan the questions you want to ask – Try to ask consistent questions to different organisations at the fair, as this will help you compare answers to make a considered decision about later applications. Don’t ask “What do you do?” or any questions you could answer yourself by looking at the company website such as “Do you sponsor?” Demonstrate your knowledge and enthusiasm for the sector and the company and make a winning first impression.
Prepare your answers – Be prepared to answer questions about your interests and motivations. You may need to write these down beforehand to practice and focus your ‘pitch’ about yourself.
On the day:
Dress to impress – First impressions count so ensure you are in business dress for the fair Presenting yourself professionally by wearing business dress is a must, as is keeping accessories, jewellery, perfume, aftershave and make-up to a minimum. Men should wear a conservative suit, shirt and tie in neutral colours, (typically, black, dark blue and grey). Women should wear trouser or dress suits with a blouse and medium height heeled shoes.
- Decide which employers you definitely want to visit. Use the floor plan in the fair guide to plot a route around the fair.
- Introduce yourself to make a positive impression – tell them your name and the course you are studying
- Demonstrate that you have done some research on the company.
- Ask pertinent questions, and try to establish a dialogue.
- Bring other, hovering students into the conversation – recruiters like people who demonstrate an awareness of others’ needs.
- Collect names, contact details or cards as appropriate.
- Take notes after you have spoken to an employer – it might be useful for your application.
- Thank them for their time!
- Dismiss organisations based on their industry. – A large number of companies attending the fairs recruit from any degree discipline and don’t necessarily seek a course related to their industry. Their focus is often on the qualifications and skills of the individual, company fit and potential. A company in the banking sector may well be recruiting for Human Resources, Marketing and IT opportunities, so keep an open mind when considering who to research.
- Bring stacks of CVs – employers want to talk to you rather than read about you and most will have online application systems
- Bring rucksacks and big coats – there is no cloakroom and it will get warm and very busy
- Ask questions which are answered in the fair guide! Or questions around sponsorship, salary and holidays
- Come across as arrogant – for example by asking “Why should I join your company? What have you got to offer me?”
- Just grab a freebie and leave.
After the event:
Ensure that you follow up with anyone who passed you their contact details – e-mail them to thank them for their time and advice and if appropriate try and arrange a follow up meeting.
We look forward to meeting with all next week. As always, any questions please drop us an e-mail to email@example.com.