Graduate Career Fairs - What You Should Know
Many recruiters offer jobs and graduate schemes through graduate career fairs. These
are usually 2- to 3-day events organised by universities, and they can be an excellent
means to meet potential employers and enhance your career prospects.
Schedules for graduate career fairs are typically publicised in advance
through flyers, national newspapers, university websites and student newsletters.
Entrance to a graduate career fair is generally free and open to grads from any
In the UK, the Careers Service at the University of Manchester holds the largest
graduate career fair in the country. The UK Association of Graduate Recruiters recently
voted this graduate career fair as the best and most cost-effective way to match
graduates with potential employers.
What Do You Gain by Attending a Graduate Career Fair?
In the US, a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers
found that 52% of grad students who reported finding full-time work had applied
for their jobs through graduate career fairs. Whether you are in the US or the UK,
attending a graduate career fair can provide opportunities to:
- Explore a wide range of career options in one location.
- Identify potential job opportunities and graduate schemes that might be available
exclusively through the graduate job fair.
- Network with potential employers of interest and professionals in your chosen field.
- Get expert advice on CV writing, applying for jobs, and honing your interviewing
Before Attending a Graduate Career Fair
At a typical graduate career fair, recruiters meet hundreds of graduates. To improve
your chances of success, you should prepare well. Many university career centres
offer sessions on how to make the most of a graduate career fair. Take advantage
of these sessions if they are available. Other things to dodo, as you get ready
for the graduate career fair are:
1. Prepare your CV
- Develop a strong CV that showcases your experience, abilities, and skills
- If you are considering several career options, prepare more than one version of
your CV to bring to the graduate career fair, each focusing on a different career
- Format your CV with care. Use plain, readable fonts and appropriate type-size.
- Make sure your CV is not too long. Many recruiters at graduate career fairs prefer
- Before printing your CV, check it carefully for spelling or grammatical errors.
- Use plain or neutral-colour, high-quality paper.
- Bring enough copies. Depending on the size of the graduate career fair and the number
of recruiters on site, you make need 30-50 copies of your CV.
2. Print professional business cards. Not all recruiters at graduate career
fairs accept resumes or take the time to read them. Carry professional-looking
business cards and make sure they are high quality, error-free, and uncluttered.
3. Research your recruiters ahead of time. Prior to a graduate career fair,
the organiser's website will have information about the attending hirers and the
floor layout. Research the employers that interest you, prepare your questions for
them in advance, and set clear goals for yourself in terms of what you want to accomplish
there. Learn the floor plan to make the best use of your time at the graduate career
4. Perfect your sales pitch. Most recruiters at a graduate career fair will
not spare more than a few minutes to meet you. Prepare and practice a one-minute
sales pitch or "elevator speech" to introduce yourself. Mention your education,
skills, career goals, and work experience.
At the Graduate Career Fair
- Dress smartly and coordinate your clothing and accessories. Use a professional briefcase
or hardcover portfolio to store CVs, company information, notes, and business cards
- Arrive early at the graduate career fair to avoid the rush.
- Don't move around in a group or spend time collecting freebies. To present a professional
image, approach recruiters independently.
- Take notes on all your contacts and remember their names. Don't monopolise the conversation,
but listen carefully to what the recruiters have to say. Give them your CV and/or
- Before leaving, ask the recruiter about the usual next steps in their hiring process.
Get contact details from recruiters and thank them sincerely for their time.
Mail a thank you letter or email to the recruiters you met within 48 hours of the
graduate career fair. Phone those recruiters who indicated it was acceptable to
do so. Use your notes and research materials to make your follow-up more meaningful.
Attach a copy of your CV, or even better send them your iProfile. It's free, you
never lose it, you control exactly what anyone sees and can make sure it's always
up-to-date. It means more control and feedback when job seeking. Only people receiving
the link can view your iProfile. That way you control exactly what anyone sees,
get to opportunities faster - and get expert career advice or feedback too. And
you can even track in detail exactly who's looking at your Profile and why.
Landing a job or entry into a graduate scheme at a graduate career fair happens
all the time and it can happen to you. With adequate planning, preparation, and
follow up, you can take advantage of the excellent career opportunities that graduate
career fairs have to offer.