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Careers fairs: what really irritates employers

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On Monday, I spent my afternoon working as a student ambassador for a company at a law careers fair, and got an insight into the perspective of an employer.

Here are some helpful tips I learnt which might help you at the upcoming Sheffield fairs.

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare

Do your research. Find out which companies are attending and prioritise a list of those you’re most interested in. Familiarise yourself with company websites so that you have a basic understanding of what the company actually do. You’d be surprised how many students ask questions like: “Why should I apply?” or “What does Hogan Lovells do?” I witnessed first-hand that employers get really irritated when students haven’t carried out the most basic research.

  1. Dress to impress

Certain employers would always advise that you wear a suit. This might not be the most practical idea (especially if it falls in between your lectures) but at least turn up smart/casual. I actually heard comments from employers about students who didn’t dress appropriately – a particular favourite of mine: “Did you see that girl in the green dress?! It was so short, she looked like she was about to go to a nightclub.” It’s definitely better to be safe than sorry in these situations.

  1. Asking the right questions

Companies are on the look-out for interesting questions. Whilst I was on one of the stands, I found that pretty much everyone asked the same question (and the answers were completely and readily available on the firm’s website). Try to be creative – ask something that employer’s aren’t used to hearing.

Write down a list of interesting questions that you’re looking to find out the answers to, and approach your target employer in a calm and approachable way. Employers do ask for the names of students who seemed particularly impressive – and even I have been asked me for names (so don’t dismiss student representatives, or company trainees).

  1. Collect business cards and follow up

Don’t be afraid to ask for a business card – and follow up with employers after the event. Note down what you talked about as soon as you get home and then you can jog their memory by dropping in a line about your conversation.  Tell them about how you’ve decided to apply to the company. This way, graduate recruitment are likely to remember you.

  1. Don’t come just for the freebies

The freebies can be pretty cool (there’s nothing better than branded filtered water bottles and selfie sticks) – but make sure you talk to the company too. It’s really obvious for employers to tell whose coming to stock up on free stationary and those that are there because their genuinely interested in finding out more about the company. Make a strong impression on the day, and employers are likely to remember you when you send in your applications.

Career Fairs to look out for at the University of Sheffield…

Fair Type Venue Date Time
The professional graduate recruitment and placement fair The Octagon Centre, University of Sheffield, Western Bank Tuesday 3rd November 2015. 11.30am – 3.00pm
The Engineering Graduate Recruitment & Placement Fair The Octagon Centre Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 November 2015 11.30am – 3.00pm
The Law Fair The Octagon Centre Wednesday 18th November 12.30pm – 3.30pm

Do you know what irritates employers at careers fairs? Tell us below.

Photo: COD Newsroom / Flickr

Sheffield Editor for Career Camel
Jessica SmithCareers fairs: what really irritates employers

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