University recruitment events typically feature throughout the academic year, with a heavy focus on the all-important first term. These events are for all years to utilise, not just final years seeking a graduate role. University recruitment events offer a unique chance to network with important employers, enabling you to gain a better understanding of the difference career choices available. Recruitment events range from more general career fairs, to sector, or even employer specific events. Many focus specifically on application help, providing you with crucial information on how your internship, or graduate application can stand out. The following steps will ensure that you make the most out of these events, making them work for your own personal benefit.
Research Before Hand
Before you commit yourself to attending an event you need to be sure that the sector or employer is right for you. If you’re a first year student and you’ve signed up for an event on gradate schemes, you’re likely to be wasting your time. Instead, look for events that are more relevant for first year students, such as to do with firm open days or internships. Be sure to research the career path beforehand, you don’t want to get there to find that you aren’t eligible to apply for a job there.
Having conducted your research on the sector, it is important to explore which employers will be in attendance. This will enable you to gain a broad understanding of the industry and specific employers prior to the event, allowing you to ask more specific questions.
It is advisable to look at the application process when undertaking your research too. If you’ve come across a stage that looks particularly daunting, like a video interview or situational judgement test, you can ask questions about this to the recruiter. They may give you useful hints and tips on how to do well.
Lastly, if you’ve spent all this time researching, the last thing you want to do is miss the event because you got the time and venue mixed up! If you’ve booked the event weeks in advance, set a reminder in your phone so that you don’t forget.
When undertaking your research, hopefully a few questions about the company will have cropped up. It’s a good idea to take a note of these and bring them with you. This will make you seem intelligent and well prepared, showing employers that you’re not attending just for the free wine and merchandise.
Think about who you’re going to ask the questions to. For an application specific question, it’s best to seek out a member of the recruitment or HR team. For more company or career specific questions, try asking someone more relevant, such as a professional, if they are in attendance.
Bring a notepad and pen with you! You may need to jot down some important tips, facts, or general information. It’s also a good idea to note down who you spoke to, for any follow up emails or to connect with on LinkedIn.
Remember, you can never be too prepared! As a careers consultant for the University of Edinburgh, commented;
It’s unlikely you’ll leave a fair with a definite job offer in your pocket, but you can significantly increase your chances at the application and interview stage, if you’re prepared, as companies are there to spot potential recruits.
Look the Part
You may be used to rocking up to lectures in sportswear, tracksuits, or even your pyjamas, but think, will this image be appropriate for a careers event? Probably not. The general rule for careers events is to dress how you would for an interview. First impressions count and you want to come across as smart, professional and employable. It's recommended that males wear a suit, shirt and tie, and females wear a skirt or dress of a respectable length.
Some of the previous points have already touched upon this, but a careers event is the perfect opportunity to network with future employers. There are a few simple steps to make this process easier:
- Carefully choose who to approach, whilst it may seem that the person who is swamped by students is the best person to talk to, it may be that a colleague in the corner is only speaking to one student. It is always best to speak to someone in a smaller group, as it will enable you to have more one-to-one contact and develop more of a rapport.
- Be confident! Start with a warm hello, firm handshake and good eye contact. It’s all about the first impressions!
- Start a conversation, you’ve already done your research and devised a few important questions to ask, so ask away!
- Stay in touch. The best way to make the most out of networking is to ensure that you follow up with them in the future. Connect with them on LinkedIn; ask for the email address or a business card. This will ensure that they remember you!
If the thought of networking with potential employers is still a little bit daunting, read through this handy article giving you top networking tips! The most important thing to remember about attending university recruitment events is to be prepared and do your research. You want to make a lasting impression with future employers, by coming across as intelligent, employable and professional.
It’s also important to remember that not every sector will be the right fit for you. Just because your friend is interested in a career in teaching, it doesn’t mean that you are too. The best way to gauge what path is the right choice for you is to attend recruitment events and find out for yourself.
To find out what careers events are scheduled for your university, keep an eye on their careers website. This is where all upcoming events will be organised, allowing you to skim through and book onto upcoming events.