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Finding career help at a career fair

As a graduate trying to make your first step onto the career ladder you will find that recruitment fairs are a great source for career help and advice.

The aim of a career fair is to give jobseekers the opportunity to meet with companies looking to employ people. Employers come prepared to answer your questions and to talk about what they have on offer. This is your opportunity to get up close and to find out more about a company than you would purely from their website.

Think about the type of career advice you want

You are more likely to find the career help you need if you prepare well, so think about what you want to get out of the career fair. Make a wish list.

Read up about the fair beforehand by visiting the website or reading the show guide.  Make a list of the companies and employers of interest to you.

Once you have your list of companies, research them. Gather information on their activities, operations and management. Read about their current market value and projects.

This is a good time to note details about any additional features offered at the career fair, such as interview skills training, help with finding an internship, CV preparation clinics and other types of career advice

Finally, prepare yourself as you would for an interview. Make a list of any questions that you want to ask and think about how you will answer any questions you may be asked about your qualifications, strengths, experience, interests and career objectives.

Dress simple but smart, and take along a notebook and pen.

At the career fair

Arrive in plenty of time to (queue up and) see all the employers you plan to. Stands at career fairs tend to be less busy as the day advances so you could try saving the afternoon to speak to the companies you are most interested in.

Take a copy of your CV with you. Some employers do not take CVs at fairs but for those that do, go prepared, and take along a standard cover letter that you can leave along with your CV.

Be enthusiastic and interested. Ask questions about the company’s plans, like their business direction for the future. Show that you know your market by explaining what you like about the company – why do you want to work for them rather than one of their competitors? And why do you think you would be an asset to the company?

Do not ask about salary or benefits immediately. If you are an undergraduate, then you can make inquiries about internships or training programmes available.

Collect contact cards and anything else you can use as a reminder of the employers you visited.

Following up after the career fair

Give yourself an edge over the other candidates by following up with the employers you spoke with once the fair is over. You could send thank-you notes to the employers, thanking them for investing their time and interest in you. If they have provided you with job search advice then you can thank them for that as well. Send a letter to the employer if you have not received a reply to your application.

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