Fair game?

Careers fairs aren’t always in person, increasingly they are becoming online events. The benefits of it being online are that you can get involved wherever you are, whenever it is the best time for you but there are plenty of opportunities to go along to events that aren’t online, for example, the Workfest event I attended last year.

Should you get involved though? Well, like any part of recruitment and career planning you do need to’play the game’ so to speak. There are some things you have to do, some which are optional, some recommended and other things you don’t have to do.

Attending a careers/recruitment fair

Whether either online or in person, let’s start with the difference between a recruitment fair and a career fair. If you think of them as being two sides of the same coin; attending both should be part of your strategy.

A careers fair gives you information about the careers available to you. Some careers fairs are specific to areas or sectors, others are more varied – choose one which suits your need. There may be organised speakers, presentations and workshops.

Recruitment fairs are where you go to be ‘recruited’. Usually, there are employers and recruitment agencies with specific jobs available to you. It gives you an opportunity to find out about jobs (not necessarily careers) in your local area and possibly those further afield.

Whether you attend a career fair, a recruitment fair, a fair designed to boost confidence or inspire you generally it is an opportunity for you to do the following:

Broaden your horizons

The most common question I am asked is ‘what can I do?’. Unhelpfully my answer is often – ‘what would you like to do?’. By attending events where you can see what others do is often enough to inspire you. Listen to their stories, ask questions and start asking yourself what you would like to do. Get inspired.

  • Meet people – I think we all know how useful I think networking is but really, it is. Over 70% of people find jobs through networking and if you make a good impression when you meet it adds so much more to your application.
  • To update or improve your skills – attending workshops on how to write an application form, CV or cover letter or having a mock interview with a career professional can help you get more from your job applications and be more successful.
  • Get personalised advice – particularly for careers fairs there are often opportunities to meet with a careers coach or specialist adviser and discuss your situation and how you can take your next step. In most cases, you can do this all year round but it’s an opportunity to do have those conversations whilst you are feeling motivated…or to motivate you when you’re not.

In terms of ‘playing the game’, to quote a well-known proverb used by the BBC:

You have to be in it to win it

Don’t forget to dress to impress, be prepared and to enjoy yourself too!

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