This week we have our annual careers fair, this time we are returning to an in-person format over two days! Meet employers from many different sectors, from health science and engineering, to business and public sector. We know that many students find networking and careers fairs tricky. I have therefore collated some tips and resources for networking and careers fair novices out there.
Our University of Bath Careers Fairs are on 20th & 21st October. See here for an overview of the two days and employers attending. See more information here. For a full overview on how to prepare for the fair, have a look at our Get Started – Prepare for a Fair guide.
What is the purpose of a careers fair?
At a careers fair you will have the opportunity to meet lots of employers that are interested in recruiting high calibre Bath graduates. This is your chance to ask vital questions to an employer to get a competitive edge in the application process and for the employer to meet you. You will gain awareness of job roles available, application tips and perhaps an insight into company culture. You will not get an immediate job at our careers fair, however what you learn and who you talk to may be a deciding factor when the employer shortlist their applications at a later date. See the above Prepare for a Fair guide for ideas of questions to ask and more.
Research the employers
You need to research the employers beforehand so that you can target the employers you would like to learn more from. There will be too many at the fair for you to just go around and ask everyone, and you may miss out on an employer which is perfect for you! What are you motivated by? What would you like to find out? How can you impress the employers with well thought through questions? You can research employer websites, look at their social media profiles or even better, research library databases for in – depth advice on an organisation or a sector. Or maybe you want to research to see if they are a registered disability – friendly employer. A careers fair is a great way of finding out everything you can about an employer before an application or interview.
Be yourself – the authenticity of networking
Lots of students I speak to say that they are not comfortable with networking. Surprise, surprise, neither am I! However, networking can be a great tool to find out more about an organisation and a job role and whether an employer is a great match for you. I have found it much easier to network when I am being myself, when I have a list of question to ask and when I engage genuinely and listen well to what the other person have to say. See here for more tips with regards to networking with confidence either in person or online. Remember your body language too, eye contact and a smile goes a long way!
Create an introduction
If you are not sure how to start the conversation with an employer, you may want to practice your introductory “pitch” beforehand. How would you like to introduce yourself (e.g. name and degree?), what is your motivation with regards to working at that company (e.g. specific job role, projects, sector, word of mouth) and what would you like to know more about, showing that you have done some research into the company, which will always impress them. Feedback from employers tell us that the more informed questions you ask, the more this will impress them and they are then more likely to remember you.
Follow up afterwards
You’ve done it! You have spoken to a few employers, you have been inspired and feel positive about working for that particular organisation. Can you send them a thank you note, maybe on LinkedIn? Did they share an email address for you to reach them or asked to add them to your LinkedIn? Write a polite and brief note thanking them for taking the time to speak with you and reiterate your motivation to work for them. In addition, maybe you want to research further about company culture and want to network online with Bath alumni?
Ice breaker service and quiet areas
Some of you may find these type of events especially difficult. Please be aware that we can support you in communicating with the employer if this is the case. Have a look here for our icebreaker service and information about quiet areas of the fair. If you have any further questions, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also found this get started guide helpful.
I hope you feel a bit more confident to attend the careers fair and meet some employers. The more you do it, the easier it will get and you never know, networking might turn into something you enjoy! I wish you all the best in your networking endeavours. Learn, ask and be inspired