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What Should You Talk To Employers About At Career Fairs?

By Amy @BubbleJobs

It’s that time of year again – career fairs (like the Summer Graduate Fair) are popping up all over the place, ready to help this year’s fresh crop of graduates find their first ‘real’ industry job.

You see, we know that careers fairs can be a nerve-wracking experience – I mean, there are major brands there who could pretty much give you a job then and there if they wished – so it’s no wonder that a lot of you get a bit tongue-tied at these events and have a bit of a mind blank when it comes to a lot of conversations.

Now, while some of you will have already worked out exactly what you want to ask or chat to the employers about, we know there are a lot of you that don’t actually know where to start when it comes to this kind of thing – and that’s OK – we’re here to help.

You see, as we said earlier, career fairs can be a nerve-wracking experience and mind blanks are pretty common – so just as with job interviews, it’s important to be prepared so you have a list of questions to fall back on. Research the employers that are going to be attending and think about what you’d like to know about their company. Once you’ve done that, have a search on the internet to see what information you can find out about them – and what questions you can find answers to online.

If you’ve found the answers to all your questions, it’s time to have a rethink – asking employers questions that you can find the answers to online is never a good look because it shows you’ve not done your research. Have another think about what you want to know about the company. Are you interested in the company culture? The opportunities for progression? The ins and outs of their graduate scheme? The typical career path their employees take? Try and think about what it would be like to work there – and what type of candidates they take on.

Employers are always impressed by candidates who have done their homework ahead of time – so when talking to each employer, be sure to make it clear that you’ve done your research and you’re asking each question as a direct result of that research.

Once you’ve got your questions prepared in advance, it’s worth jotting them down on your phone or a piece of paper – and then reading over them just before you’re about to approach the employer. If you get desperate, you can always refer back to this list during your conversation – but be sure to clarify what you’re doing so the employer doesn’t think you’re being rude and checking your latest text or reading some other material while you’re chatting to them.

In addition to asking these company-specific questions, it’s always worth chatting to the exhibiting employers about your history and profile – this is your opportunity to get first-hand advice from a company you’d like to work for – so don’t waste it! Have a chat to them about your background, what you’d like to do, what your skills are – and whether you’re the type of candidate that would fit into their business well.

If you’re talking to recruiters, the type of conversation you’ll have is obviously going to be very different – but you could chat to them about the type of clients they typically recruit for, the key skills that are most in demand for a particular role and any new demand for candidates in a particular niche or field.

When talking to employers at career fairs, it’s important to remember that you’re not the only job seeker attending so try and be conscious of how much of their time you’re taking up – and try and prioritise your conversation so you get your most important questions answered first.

Needless to say, when approaching employers or recruiters at careers fairs, it’s important to be polite and friendly and have a copy of your CV to hand (a tailored CV for their specific business would be even better!). Always wait for an opportunity to start a conversation with them (interrupting someone else is never a good look!), greet them with a good, firm hand shake and be sure to walk away with clear instructions on what you need to do next – eg. work on your CV, email over your application or keep an eye on their careers site.

While I can’t give you specific instructions on what you need to talk to every employer about at each career fair, I’m hoping these suggestions will have given you a good starting point for how to approach your next jobs fair.

Have some good advice for job seekers attending career fairs? Share the love and leave a comment below.

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