Date, time and location
Ensure you know the date, time and location of when employers are coming to your university or school.
You may not be familiar with all of the buildings at your university/school and some events (e.g. skills sessions or workshops) may only last 45 minutes so it’s key that you arrive on time (or early!). You don’t want to miss any important information or create the wrong first impression. Your careers service or teacher will have a full programme of employer events and will be able to support you with how to best prepare, so make sure you pay them a visit and use their resources.
It’s unlikely that an employer will offer you a job after a short conversation at a careers fair or a networking event.
Therefore, it’s not essential to dust down your best suit for these events, however, first impressions are extremely important. Think about your body language, whether this be your eye contact or consideration for the personal space of the person you are speaking to. First impressions are generally formed within a few seconds, so consider the impact of your appearance, how you introduce and present yourself along with the questions you ask – you don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reasons!
Do your research
Whether it’s an event being run by a single company or a multi-employer event, e.g. a careers fair, make sure you research the employers attending and what they do.
Large events can feel overwhelming with a lot of employers in attendance, therefore, try and select the ones you’d like to learn more about prior to the event. This way you won’t waste time on the day trying to establish which employers are attending, what they do and if they are a good match for your skills/aspirations. If you’re really unsure as to what your next step is career wise then think about the type of sector or company that you want to work in/for and identify the respective employers. Think about what’s important to you from an employer perspective, it might be that you want to work for a global organisation and have a future opportunity to work overseas, or want an employer to have similar values to your own. Your research may need to start with a self-assessment to determine what role, sector or organisation will best suit your skills and values.
Plan your questions
Rather than moving around every stand filling your bag with freebies and brochures (that you may never read), focus on the employers that you want to speak to.
Try to avoid asking questions where the answers are easy to find on the employer's website. Employers attend events to specifically talk to students so make sure you take the opportunity to have a valuable conversation. Well thought out questions will create a positive first impression and will show you’ve actively researched the company and are keen to find out more information. Starting a conversation with ‘so what does PwC do?’, ‘sell your company to me’ or ‘why should I work for you?’ aren’t the best starting points. You should also establish who it is you’re speaking to, e.g. a recruiter or someone from the business, to ensure you're asking appropriate questions. It’s worth preparing questions for the recruitment team and advisors from the business if you’re unsure who will be attending.
What do you want to take away
Knowledge is the greatest thing you can take away from an employer event.
Take notes to help you remember the different conversations you’ve had throughout the day and use these after the event to reflect upon. A bag full of brochures and freebies may entertain you for a short period, however, it’s more likely that you’ll end up storing these in your room without reading/using them. Therefore, finding out more about when you’ll need to apply, what to expect from the recruitment process and the day to day responsibilities will be a lot more beneficial. Also don’t worry if you forget to ask a specific question as you can always follow up with an employer whether it be through their social media channels, their website or directly via a contact who you met at the initial event.