Why some graduate recruitment fairs are a waste of time

Feb 13, 2015

Candidates, have you ever attended a graduate recruitment fair or career fair and questioned why you were there? Well, that seems to be the general consensus amongst undergraduates/graduates. Do you wonder if you are making use of the facilities available to you? Or do you think you are just being extremely optimistic?

Recruitment fairs are one to three day events that take place on university campuses and/or at arenas. The purpose of recruitment fairs are for students and recent graduates who are actively seeking employment opportunities in their given career field to find out what’s available and who is hiring. Despite the fact that most job fairs are usually specific to particular industries or fields, whether it is business, education, finance or health to say the least, the event normally consist of a standard procedure.

What happens at a graduate recruitment fair?

There are normally 20 – 300 representatives situated at booths or tables. Exhibitors are surrounded by tables or booths filled with leaflets, pens and different promotional incentives to attract applicants. Recruitment fairs are jam-packed with fellow potential applicants who share similar skills and work experience as yourself.

Recruitment / job fairs can be fundamentally productive; they can be a great opportunity to network by giving you the opportunity to have face to face interaction with leading employers.

You can also familiarise yourselves with a range of renowned companies. Even though it may have a carnival environment and can be overwhelming it can be a great opportunity to build your confidence and gain knowledge on areas such as graduate schemes and assessment centres.

Furthermore employers and career specialists can offer first class career and employment advice with regards to interviews skills, CVs and covering letters. In some cases applicants may even have the opportunity to have ‘on the spot’ interviews with potential employers.
Do you really need to be there?

Even though it may be a great opportunity for some, others fail to comprehend that it may not necessarily benefit everyone. It is important to make sure that you generally have an interest in the industry/companies represented at a fair, otherwise it could be a waste of your time and expenses going along.

For instance I have often left recruitment fairs feeling worse than before, as they were either irrelevant to me or too intimating. Recruitment fairs are generally competitive and overcrowded especially around tables. Therefore you may not have the opportunity to network and interact effectively with all employers. Over the years I have realised that the recruitment fairs that I attended were specific to certain industries that I was not interested in. However I felt it was mandatory to attend because of the pressure from my university and my peers. Furthermore the fairs were focused on a particular candidate and I didn’t necessarily fit that criteria therefore my attendance was not vital.

Graduate recruitment fair checklist

To make the most of your experience at graduate recruitment and job fairs I have made a check list.

  1. Have you done your research? It’s only natural to assume that you must attend the recruitment fair especially if it is at your university, however it is crucial to find out what industries are attending the recruitment fair. Also research whether any of these industries and companies are an interest to you.
  2. The less, the merrier. It is okay to attend the recruitment/ job fair with friends or fellow peers, however I would advise applicants to approach the table or the booth by themselves. This will show the employer that you are a confident, independent and enthusiastic applicant which employers are seeking for.
  3. You’re just as good as your pitch. Even if you’ve been to 100s of recruitment fairs make sure you have your elevator pitch ready for the companies that you are interested in. Introduce yourself with a firm handshake and smile, tell them what you’re studying and what job opportunities you are seeking. It’s good to keep in contact with employers (if they are willing to) and to find out more about the organisation.
  4. Be realistic. It is essential not to expect too much from recruitment/ job fairs. Going to a recruitment fair does not necessarily mean that you will be employed on the spot. They provide an insight or taster into recruitment possibilities.
  5. Make use of the facilities that are available to you! Some recruitment fairs and job fairs charge applicants for extras such as CV checks, so applicants should try and make the most out of those where they can receive career support and other goodies for free.

Evidently it can be quite an overwhelming and daunting experience to students, but do not be afraid! Organisations are not expecting you be perfect, just to be yourself. However I have to reiterate that it requires a lot of preparation and it is essential for you to do your research.

Good luck in your job hunt. For help and coaching, talk to Graduate Coach

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