5 Mistakes not to Make at a Careers Fair

So, we are at that time of the academic year when recruiters are on campus actively promoting their brand, engaging with students and actively trying to drive applications onto their graduate and placement schemes. One of the ways companies do this is through careers fairs. Yes you know, those huge scary rooms, full of giant stands, littered with giveaways, brochures and company representatives waiting to speak to you. The good news is that this is really your opportunity to engage with recruiters or employees from companies and build on research to find out about their opportunities. There are however some key mistakes that students make when attending  university careers fairs and I’m highlighting a few to ensure that you’re not the one to make them!

OneNot researching the organisations that you want to talk to
Nothing gets my goat more that when a student approaches my stand and says “So…what company is this and what do you do?”  The first impression I get as a recruiter is definitely not Wow, this candidate sounds great, I want them working for me!”  Researching the organisation before hand, looking through their website on what roles they offer and what qualifications are needed will let you know whether this is a company that is aligned with your own goals. You could look up their recruiter on LinkedIn and maybe even connect with them beforehand.  Try this approach instead
Hi, my name is….and I currently study BA Business Management. I have been doing some research on your organisation as I’m really interested in your 12 month placement scheme, could you please tell me some more about the application process please.”  It’s all about first impressions! When companies are at career fairs they are looking for talent, so if you approach recruiters in the right way then they will respond positively!

TwoBeing dressed like you have just got in from your student night out
Personal brand is everything when it comes to companies looking for their future leaders. If you show up looking like looking like you’ve been out all night and haven’t bothered going home before you come to the fair then you are showing no sense of personal brand. Take some pride in your appearance. Would you turn up to an interview looking like this?  First impressions count in any situation.  I’m not saying you need to come in full business dress, but remember that you want a graduate job, so give yourself the best opportunity to stand out from the crowd by dressing smart, grooming and approaching me with a smile on your face.

ThreeNot having a recent, good CV with you
OK, so you’ve created a good first impression on me, approached me smartly dressed and have done some good research on my organisation. I’m thinking this candidate has potential and I want to be able to follow up with you after the careers fair so I ask for your CV – You don’t have one!  How are you standing out from the crowd now? Take several copies of a generic CV with you (even better if you’ve tailored one before hand as part of your preparation) so that you can leave this behind. Some companies may just tell you to apply online, but encourage them to take the CV anyway or take the opportunity talk a bit about yourself and your skills for the role …show them that your are more than just a name on an application. Another important point is to be open-minded when looking at potential companies. Don’t go to your careers fair with tunnel vision. Many employers at the fair, be it national and international brands down to smaller SME’s have many opportunities that might be what you are looking for and really suit your skill set, so be open minded with the organisations you look at…you never know what gem they might have.

FourFilling up on the freebies with your mates
Yes, most organisations have freebies; it’s their way of keeping their brand visible when you get home and to make their stands look enticing to get you over. Your job is not to fill up as many bags as possible with free stuff in competition with your friends, but to interact and engage with your potential future employer and collect information. It is always good to go out on your own so that you can have some one-on-one time with a recruiter or employee from the company you want to work for, so don’t trawl around in a big pack.

FiveNot getting recruiters details and failing to follow up
The hard work has been done, the fair is over, you’ve met some great employers, left a few CV’s and come away with some great company information. How many contact details did you get? If you want to truly set yourself apart from the competition and give yourself an opportunity to work for your dream company then ensure you collect contact information and then follow up with an email or a personalised request on LinkedIn. This will look great to recruiters; you researched the company well, looked smart, gave a CV on the day; then followed up with an email saying how great it was to meet and how you’re looking forward to hearing back. If you’ve followed those 5 steps… the chances are pretty good that you will hear back!

Martyn Flynn
Martyn Flynn,Talent Acquisition Manager, Enterprise Rent-A-Car
Enterprise Rent A Car

Meet Martyn at the Opportunities Fair on 10 November 2016

Why you should prepare an elevator pitch when searching for a job

Many of you may be familiar with the elevator pitch. You’ve probably seen it on the television show Dragon’s Den, where entrepreneurs attempt to persuade a panel of judges with their business ideas. Creating an excellent elevator pitch is a great way to consolidate what you are trying to achieve and what you can offer a company. It’s very closely linked to developing a personal brand.

MWhat is an elevator pitch?

The idea behind an elevator pitch is a short statement which combines who you are and what you can offer a company in a couple of minutes (maximum). The idea behind it is that you only have a short time to convince an employer to hire you, about the same time it would take to travel from the ground floor to the top of a fairly tall building.

How can you use an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch can be used during many stages of the recruitment and job searching process. It’s a great tool when you meet employers at job fairs, it’s useful to keep on track with your message at interviews and if you attend any networking events, you can use it to demonstrate your skills and passions to the people you meet there. But one of the most useful things about an elevator pitch is the fact that it allows you to spend some time focusing on what your key skills are and how you want to present them to potential employers. Having a clear idea of what you can offer the job market is really important, and can save time in the long run.

5 great tips for creating your elevator pitch

  1. Remember it isn’t about you

Although you are trying to market yourself to a future employer, remember that however nice and friendly they seem, they probably don’t want to hear about what you’ve been up to, but rather what you can do to help them. Work out how your experience can benefit their company, and ideally how you joining their team will solve a problem. You want to be an essential employee, someone they can’t cope without.

  1. Just like your CV, you should tailor it to the audience

As well as tailoring it to different jobs. Firstly, what your audience do will change what people want to hear. Those interviewing you will be interested in different points to the staff you meet at recruitment events. You are trying to show off what makes you the number one applicant and don’t have much time, so you should only include what’s relevant. Highlight your leadership qualities for a graduate management scheme or your digital skills for a job in technology.

  1. Leave them wanting more

You’ve got a maximum of two minutes to tell them what they need to know, so you need to focus on the really interesting, exciting stuff. Let them know about your expertise , and the areas in which you really shine. Don’t give away all the good stuff though.

  1. Have a call to action at the end

It’s important to finish your pitch by making a request or handing over your business card. Saying that you’d love to have an in-depth discussion about how your experience could help their business. Remember, you didn’t come just to tell them about how great you are, you also wanted a follow-up meeting / interview / introduction.

  1. Practice

Sounding natural is really important. You don’t want to sound like you’re trying too hard to sell. If you can, practice your elevator speech on friends and family. Don’t over prepare, you want to sound conversational, and remember, it’s ok if you don’t get it perfect. It’s the message that’s important. We’re always impressed when candidates have taken the time to find out how their skills could be useful to the work that we do. If you want to learn more about the opportunities available at Enterprise then check out our latest vacancies.

Enterprise Rent A Car

10 tips to help you get the most out of a careers fair

achieve your full potential

As a student or recent graduate taking the next step towards your dream job can be daunting. You may not have a lot of work experience or you may be apprehensive about being in a new environment. It is perfectly reasonable to feel a bit nervous but a careers fair is a great way to ease yourself into job interviews and job hunting.

A careers fair is a two-way street, employers and recruitment agencies want to make a good impression as much as you do. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of a careers fair:


  1. Research the companies that are attending, which ones focus on your area of expertise and which ones would you like to find out more about? Put a list together and make sure you visit each exhibitor stand on your list.
  2. Update your CV and print copies. Employers and recruitment agencies will be looking to find out more about your skills and experience. They will be happy to take a copy of your CV so they can easily get in contact with you if a relevant position becomes available.
  3. Create a LinkedIn account. If you haven’t already set up a profile on LinkedIn. Many employers and recruitment agencies use LinkedIn to find suitable candidates and you could be the first to hear of relevant opportunities if you are connected to the right people.
  4. Plan your outfit. While you don’t necessarily need to look really smart it is better to dress on the smarter side of casual and avoid wearing trainers. Don’t feel like you have to dress plainly to look presentable, wearing something with a bit of colour and personality should make you more memorable.
  5. Prepare answers to common interview questions. While a careers fair is not as formal as a job interview employers will still be looking to find out more about you. They may ask about your degree, the subjects you have studied and what your career aspirations are. If you are prepared you will feel more confident and be able to deliver answers clearly and concisely.
  6. Think about questions you may want to ask. If you are speaking to a recruitment agency you might want to ask what types of companies they work with and what sort of roles they have available. If you are speaking directly to an employer you may want to find out what the work environment is like and whether they offer training and further qualifications.

On the day

  1. While it may be comforting to stick with your friends you are likely to get more out of a careers fair if you visit each exhibitor stand as an individual. This will allow you to ask all the questions you want without feeling like you have to share the conversation with someone else.
  2. Remember to smile. Even if you are nervous don’t forget to smile when you talk. People you are speaking to will find you more engaging when you smile and you will feel more confident.
  3. Take notes. If you are told to visit an employer’s careers page or if you get given any advice be sure to jot it down. After the careers fair you can follow up on all the contacts you have made and apply for any vacancies using their preferred application method.
  4. After each conversation use LinkedIn to connect with the employers and recruitment consultants you meet. This way you will be the first to know if a new vacancy becomes available as often these will be shared on LinkedIn.

For more informaintapeopletion and advice about finding the right IT or engineering job visit the IntaPeople stand at the USW Opportunities Fair on Thursday 12th November. Fill out an entry form on the stand and you could be in with the chance of winning £200 worth of Amazon vouchers.


Making the most of careers fairs

Careers fairs are a fantastic way to meet employers face to face, to gain an insight into what it would be like to work there, make contacts, find out things which aren’t on their eventwebsite, and of course to make a good impression!

Employers will often bring along recent graduates or students currently on placement, giving you an excellent opportunity to pick their brains about the projects they are currently working on and of course get some top tips on the application process they went through.

Do your research before the event, know what recruiters will be there, what they do and the opportunities they have. Don’t make assumptions about the opportunities employers have just because of the kind of company they are as they often recruit graduates from a variety of different subject areas e.g. lots of big companies have legal departments.

Concentrate on the employers you are most interested in and what you want to talk to them about. Think of insightful questions to ask them and avoid common ones like “what does your company do?” as this suggests a lack of interest.

Even though employers aren’t necessarily expecting you to be dressed in a power suit, you do still need to appear smart and professional.  You also need to behave professionally, for example finish your coffee and put your phone on silent before entering the event.  This might not be a job interview but you want to try to create a good impression.

We see lots of students who visit fairs to collect freebies and build up a lifetime supply of free pens, which is fine but won’t get you a good job or placement.  Make best use of the time you have at a fair by talking to the employers, getting an insight into their organisation and making a good impression on them – they may keep a look out for your application if you impressed them!

Don’t be shy, employers want you to come and talk to them – be prepared to introduce yourself by telling them who you are, what you are studying and the kind of job / placement you are interested in.  If you visit a fair with friends don’t hide behind them and hope that they’ll do all the talking, get stuck in!

Careers fairs have specified start and end times and can be very busy so get there early to give yourself enough time to talk to all of the employers you want to meet.  Consider having your own simple business cards printed so that you can exchange cards with recruiters.

Before leaving the fair double check the programme to be sure that you have spoken to all the employers that you are interested in.

Don’t forget to follow up after the event, and be sure to note application deadlines into your diary allowing plenty of time to complete them properly.



Matthew (USW Careers)

What to ask at a Careers Fair

A graduate careers fair is one of the few opportunities you will have to meet face-to-face employees from large, multinational organisations and to ask questions about what it is to eventwork there.  The trick though is to ask questions that are meaningful and the recruiter has not heard several times that day.

Be informed

These events can get really busy so you don’t want to waste time asking questions that can be easily found out on the website. Some of these recruiters invest heavily in their recruitment campaign.  I remember the careers information room being awash with glossy recruitment brochures – occasionally accompanied by very imaginative goodies, such as fortune cookies and toy cars. This information is now on their website and some of these sites surpass that of the leading careers sites when it comes to information on applications, skills and attributes… Before you head off to the fair, take a look at the exhibitor’s careers section – I usually find there is a link at the bottom of the homepage or under the “About Us” section – and seek out any press releases, they are often good sources of information of future plans the company may have or good news stories. It will certainly help you come up with a few informed questions to ask, even if you can only ask “I understand from your website this and this, can you tell me some more about that and that?”  

Insider knowledge

When chatting to the representatives, I always find out something new whether it’s about the industry, the workforce, the issues they face or their products/services. They are usually very happy to take the time to talk about the company. They have insider knowledge of the application process and an acute understanding of what the employer wants to see in a graduate. Good information to know for when you complete application forms.  And if you would really love to work for a particular company, then who would be better to tell you what they like best about working there. If you do bond then ask their name, they may suggest that you can contact them again if needed. Summer careers fairs are being held across the UK from April to June, including Cardiff Summer Careers Fair on Tuesday 9 June  – careers advisers from University of South Wales will be there offering advice too.

Careers fairs are typically held in November and June.   List of upcoming fairs can be found on Prospects

More about how to make the most of graduate fairs on:


Sharon (USW Careers)