Tips and tricks attending a career fair
Before you go to a career fair, it’s a good idea to consider, what it is you want to gain from the visit. Is it project collaboration, internship, or a job that you are looking for – or are you simply curious on getting to know more about, what sort of tasks and expectations, there will be waiting for you once you graduate?
Prepare a couple of opening questions
Opening questions are important because they will set the frame for the conversation. Below are listed some examples on what you might ask:
- What kind of company do you work at? What are your daily tasks?
- What is your background, educational and workwise for having this job?
- Can you tell a bit more about, how it is to be an employee at this company? (e.g., the culture of cooperation, the management culture, is it a social workspace etc.)
- What type do you hire? And are there any certain skills that you are looking for?
- What do you find to be a good employee?
Questions for getting more specific information
The conversation can also be used for getting more specific information about the company. Once you know more about the company, it is easier to assess whether you are interested or not. And if you are, you can use the specific information in targeting your application.
- Do you have student assistants/interns and for what kind of tasks?
- How are you organized? (e.g., working hours, shared office etc.)
- Do you have any experience with project cooperation with students?
- I’m interested in subjects within… In that context I found it would be interesting to talk to someone at your company. Do you have an idea of whom I might contact?
- Are there anything specifics you look for when you read an application, e.g., experience within a certain field, certain skills, references, or such?
Communicate your skills
To have a good dialogue, it is important, that you are ready to talk about yourself. There is no golden rule for when it is the right time to talk about you, you have to make an assessment from company to company. Think about questions like:
What skills do you have?
It is more interesting to talk about skills, than education. Remember both professional and personal skills. Always have some concrete examples that you are ready to unfold. You can use your educational profile as inspiration.
How do you see yourself in relations to the specific company/organization?
Put yourself in the company’s place and come up with tasks, areas and needs, where you can contribute with your skills.
In what way is it that you and your skills, can contribute?
It is important that you are able to explain what needs your skills cover. E.g., that you have strong skills within analytics, which you can use to help the company. It is a good idea to use concrete examples, where you tell how you use your skills. It could be examples from working on your project, student work, volunteering etc.
You can benefit from using an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a very short presentation of who you are and what you can do. There are a lot of different advice on how to do your elevator speech, but the main features of your elevator speech should be:
- Short – max. 1. min.
- Intriguing. Your elevator speech should make people even more curious on who you are. You can do this by putting your professional profile and skills in relation to the company.
- Easy to understand. Your elevator speech must be understood by all.
- Written down. But remember that you will be delivering the speech orally, so think about the words you use.
Create a LinkedIn profile
LinkedIn is a network for professionals. It is a tool you can use to keep track on your network relations (e.g., co-students, colleagues, or companies on the fair). But it is also a tool you can use to research the companies – both the ones that participate on the fair, but also in case you get curious within a branch.
It is a good idea to create a profile before the fair. In that way, you can do deeper research on the companies, but also consider if you want to link with the companies/representative you meet on the fair.
Choose who you would like to talk to
Of course, you must be ready to be inspired when you visit a fair. But there will be a lot of stands at a career fair and you can’t be sure to visit them all. Therefore, it’s a good idea, before you enter a fair to single out 2-3 companies you would like to talk to. In this way, you can prepare well prior to the fair, partly by researching the company and partly by making concrete and targeted questions.
Plan – what do you want to happen after the fair?
At the fair you have gotten a lot of information. To use this information in the best possible way it is important that you put the information – and you – into play. This you can do by planning, where you:
- Reflect on how you can use the impressions of the day forward.
- Discuss your experiences with your co-students, friends, and others.
- Follow up on your contacts – use LinkedIn to connect.
- Update your CV (e.g., if you’ve gained information on which skills the companies demand).
- Use different career offers to boost your skills profile even further (e.g., RUC, unions etc.).
Listen and ask
A career fair can seem quite hectic to some. But remember to take time to listen and ask questions to the things the companies are telling. Just like you’ve prepared an elevator speech, some companies have as well. By listening and asking, you will get even more information about the company and at the same time appear more professional.
In short – you can use the career fair to talk with companies and experts about a certain topic. You do not have to collaborate or use them as a case, but it might help you and/or your project group finding the right focus or test your ideas about a certain topic.
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