Published on February 20th, 2013 | by Amy Edwards0
How To Effectively Follow-Up After A Careers Fair
By Amy @BubbleJobs
If you’re attending the Manchester Digital Talent Day today then you should have already read yesterday’s blog on how to stand out from the crowd and make a great first impression on the exhibiting businesses. You haven’t? Well doors open at 11.30 so you’d better get reading… quick!
OK, now you’re up to date on the Dos and Don’ts of careers fairs on the actual day of the event, it’s time to look ahead and see what you should (and more importantly shouldn’t!) be doing once the event has ended and you’re looking to move forwards with your career.
Just to point out, although this advice comes on the back of today’s event, it’s relevant for every single careers fair so don’t make the mistake of thinking this doesn’t apply to you just because you couldn’t make it to today’s event!
First up, you need to take a step back and reflect on what you’ve learnt at the fair. Which businesses did you feel genuinely excited about speaking to? Who do you think you could see yourself working for in the future? Who seemed genuinely interested in helping you develop your career? Once you’ve answered these questions, you should be able to put together a list of the exhibitors you spoke to in order of preference and priority – this should provide you with your starting point for your follow-up strategy.
Next up, start to prepare a thank you correspondence (normally an email) to send to each of the exhibitors. Just like your CV and cover letter, sending out a generic thank you email is a big no-no – personalisation is key if you’re really serious about making the most of the opportunity. Think about the conversations you had with each exhibitor (in a perfect world you’d have sneakily written down some notes following each meeting) and write a thank you which reflects the conversation and their personal comments to you.
Of course, email isn’t your only option. If you’re serious about standing out from the crowd, why not choose another platform alongside an email? Sending a shout-out to an employer to say thanks for their help a few days after the event on Twitter or Facebook is always going to win you brownie points – after all, it makes the company in question look like they’re caring and helpful – something which every employer would like to think of themselves as. Of course, Twitter and Facebook are obvious things – if you really want to impress, you’ve got to think outside ‘the box’!
In your thank you email/tweet/correspondence say how you much you enjoyed meeting the company, how helpful their comments were and how you plan to use them and learn from what they said in the future. Of course, make sure you include your contact details so they can get in touch and if they discussed future opportunities, don’t be afraid to inquire - after all that’s why you attended the fair in the first place! With your thank you email, you want to try and initiate a next step so you need to make it clear you’re interested in the business and a career with them.
Everyone has different opinions on when the best time is to send a thank you/follow-up after the event, however I think sending out a thank you via social media 1-2 days after the event and sending a thank you and follow-up email 4-7 days after the event is a great rule of thumb – this strategy shows you’re keen to reach out to them with an initial thank you straight after the event but you’ve taken a few days to write a detailed, personal email which relates directly to them as an employer before sending an official ‘thank you’. Rather than racing to beat your competitors, waiting 4-7 days shows you’re confident in your abilities and you’re keen to make sure the correspondence you send actually counts and strikes a chord with the employer in question.
OK, so you’ve prepared your thank you email… but who do you send it to? Ah, well you see, here’s where all your hard work at the event itself pays out. Remember how you were supposed to note down details of your conversation? Well, you were supposed to write down the contact details of the exhibitor too! One of the golden rules of careers fairs is to never walk away from a stand without getting the contact details of the person you’re speaking to, whether you have to manually write it down or you can get it on a business card. You can then use these details to send your thank you email directly to the exhibitor you were speaking to, rather than to a generic email address where there’s a good chance it’ll get lost.
Once you’ve sent the email, the waiting game begins but it’s important to be patient! Remember, these businesses have… well, businesses to run so they won’t necessarily be able to reply to you straight away, particularly if they’ve taken a few days out of the office to attend the careers fair in the first place! The worst thing you can possibly do is bug them because then you’ll end up attracting attention for all the wrong reasons. Be patient but if they still haven’t replied in a month or so, feel free to send them a friendly reminder DM on Twitter to make sure they haven’t forgotten about you or send them an email – remember, you want to show you’re enthusiastic but not needy or annoying!