Making the most of career events and job fairs
A fantastic range of career and recruitment events take place each year. Some take place locally, in schools, colleges or community centres. Others are held in key cities, like Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
If you want to get the very best out of these events read on.
Attending them is a great way to:
- meet, and talk with, people who can give you the sort of information and advice you won’t find in books or on websites
- speak directly to people who recruit, select and interview young people for jobs and apprenticeships
- learn about the different learning and career pathways open to you after school
- get ahead of the competition – job, course or apprenticeship applicants who don’t make the effort to go along
- compare different options if you haven’t made your mind up yet
- find out about careers, jobs, apprenticeships and courses at college or university.
How to make sure you have a great day
If all you get out of the day is a pair of sore feet and a couple of eco-friendly bags, you’ll have wasted your valuable time.
So, here are some basic guidelines to help you get the most out of any event you attend.
Before you go – planning is everything
- Find out as much as you can about the event before you go – the location, date and time.
- Find out which organisations and businesses will be there, and what they do. Get a list of the exhibitors.
- Ask yourself this important question. What do I want to get out of this? Information on a specific career, or college, or employers who plan to recruit?
- Prioritise what you want to do and who you want to speak with – you may not have the time to do everything you want.
- Look at the floor plan or layout of the event. Plan your route around the event.
- Check out the times and locations of any activities you want to take part in – workshops, presentations, skill challenges or taster sessions.
- Note your plan down. Which stands? Which activities? When?
- Have something to say – write down the questions you want to ask. (See our advice below.)
- Plan what to wear. Something smart and presentable, comfy shoes.
- Take a notepad and pen – you won’t remember everything you find out.
On the day
- Relax and enjoy the event.
- Don’t go round in a group – you come first, so go your own way and meet friends later to share notes.
- The main thing is to take part. Speak to people, even if you feel nervous.
- Remember they are there to promote their organisation, courses, careers, sector or industry. They want you to speak up.
- Ask them the questions you couldn’t get answers to on their websites or in prospectuses.
- Try to keep to your plan – but be flexible about times, stands may be so busy you have to keep going back to get the chance to speak to an exhibitor.
- Take notes. Record the names of useful contacts, and important dates or events.
- Get independent advice from careers advisers – organisations that provide support to young people are usually also at these events.
And finally, despite what we said earlier about eco-friendly bags, if there’s a competition to win some high-tech goodies you might just want to give it a go!
After the event
- Read the information you’ve collected.
- Put any important dates, for example application dates, or contacts in your diary.
- Reflect on what you found out and what it might mean for your future plans.
- Get online and find out more.
- Follow up on any contacts you’ve made.
- Act on what you found out – apply, research, update your career or learning plans.
Something to say!
It’s easy to get tongue tied at events, no matter how confident you are. Here are a few questions to get you thinking.
- Do you recruit all year round or at a specific time of year?
- How do you select the best person for the apprenticeship/job?
- Do you offer work experience placements for young people?
- How do you train new employees?
- What skills and qualities do you look for when you recruit?
- What’s the best route into this type of career?
- Why did you decide to become a (job title)?
- Why did you join the (NHS, Army or Police)?
- What was your first year as a (student/apprentice/job title) like?
Some annual events
Download our free Career or job fair preparation worksheet to help you plan ahead.
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