Top Tips for Career Fairs

We might be living in an internet age of technology with companies’ recruitment drives running on apps, social media and through applicant tracking systems.  However, judging by the recent UL Careers Fair, face to face interaction with a real ‘live’ person is still as important as ever, for research , creating a first impression and of course sussing out the kind of people working at the company you might be interested in.   With 145 exhibitors and over 7,800 jobs on offer across all sectors UL’s recent careers fair was our most successful ever.  As students embark on the graduate job journey, UL Links asked Head of Careers Gavin Connell and Career Advisor Brendan Lally for their top tips to get the most out of this year’s career fairs.

  • Bring copies of your CV (get feedback on it beforehand) but know which employers will accept them! Some employers cannot accept hard copy CVs and will ask you to apply online.
  • Come prepared. You can review the exhibitors beforehand. If you spend a little time getting some background on an organisation, then you can ask very focused and specific questions. 
  • This should be a chance to refine the understanding you have from your research not initiating every conversation with ‘what do you do?’ or asking questions that you can find answers to online.
  • Dress appropriately. First impressions are important. 
  • If you’re going with a group of friends, split up instead of cruising around together. This is your opportunity and you need to listen to all the conversations around you and maybe implement what you hear.
  • Allow yourself adequate time. Come as early as possible. You may need to return between classes. Typically, fairs are busiest during the lunch hour.
  • Get your bearings. When you arrive, take a few minutes to review the map and directory for the fair.
  • Prioritise the employers you're most interested in. If your schedule allows, you may find it easiest to start with the employers in which you're less interested. This will allow you to hone your approach and to be most confident when you approach the employers you're especially interested about. 
  • Consider do you want to give the same CV to all or tailor some CV’s to fit your very top preferences.
  • Introduce yourself and be prepared to give your "career pitch." Firm handshake, check for fresh breath, smile, use eye contact and show personality, and ask open questions.
  • Ask the representative for his/her card, collect company literature & business cards.
  • Listen carefully to the recruiter and thank the recruiter for their time.
  • Follow up - email or LinkedIn, and reference the fact that you spoke at the careers fair, follow through on employer requests - complete applications, sign up for on-campus interviews, attend company presentations/open days.
  • Bring water – it can be a long day!
  • Be accessible after – turn on the voicemail function on your phone.


Best of Luck 
Gavin & Brendan