I first encountered Scott Logic at the SiliconMilkRoundabout recruitment event last year, and the Monday after attending the event I was offered a job interview. Having successfully navigated the rest of the hiring process, this year I’ll be attending the same event as a member of staff and meeting potential applicants.
Attending a job fair can be a daunting experience, and it is easy to be overwhelmed by the variety of companies and figuring out how to show them that you are the person they should be hiring. With that in mind, here are the four tips that I found most useful for making the most of an event like this, that ultimately helped me get a job offer from the company I now work for.
1. Do Research
Do your homework before you go. Often the event organisers publish a list of all of the companies who will be attending online beforehand, so spend time researching who they all are and what industries they work in. Having a good understanding of what a business does helps you to stand out from the crowd at the event. If possible also find out exactly what sort of roles they have open at the moment.
For example, before I saw Scott Logic I had a clear understanding of what sort of company they were, and what type of work they did. I also knew that they had openings for Business Analyst positions from looking at their Company Website and LinkedIn profile. This meant that I was able to approach them at the stand and straight away say ‘I really like the look of what your company does, this is a role I could be suitable for, and this is what I could bring to the role’. That obviously makes a much stronger impression than just showing up and saying ‘Hello, what does your company do?’.
2. Be Selective
Don’t plan to talk to every company there, you simply won’t have the time. Instead, focus on having meaningful interactions with your target companies. This gives you two advantages:
- It makes any approach you do make to a company much more impactful; and
- You don’t need to be there for very long, careers fairs shouldn’t be an exhausting experience.
When I went to SiliconMilkRoundabout I wasn’t at the event for more than an hour in total, and I was easily able to have meaningful interactions with each of my target companies.
This doesn’t mean don’t be spontaneous and strike up a conversation with someone on a stand who you think looks interesting and you want to engage with, just be aware that the aim of attending is not just to collect every single freebie possible!
3. Make the Right First Impression
You only have a short amount of time, so it’s all about making an impression and creating that meaningful next step, rather trying to learn everything about a company.
Take copies of your CV, plan what you want to say, and have a short set of questions tailored to each company you want to work for. That way you’ll feel prepared when you get to the stand and already have an advantage over the majority of other candidates. That’s not to say, however, that you should have a complete script of each interaction you’re planning to have, more a general idea of where you want each conversation to develop.
Finally, make sure that you complete the conversation by asking for a business card or a LinkedIn connection from the person you have been talking to. This means that you can contact the person you have spoken to after the event to thank them for their time, and also leaves the door open for follow-up interactions.
4. Connect Your Experience With the Roles You Are Interested In
As we all know, often our experience or expertise won’t align perfectly with what a company is looking for. I had actually recently qualified as a Chartered Accountant before becoming a Business Analyst, but I was able to focus on the skills I had which would be directly transferable to being successful in the role Scott Logic were hiring for.
When companies say ‘tell me a bit about yourself’ it is tempting to reel off your career history, but that doesn’t help a company understand what you can do for them. You have to bring your experience to life by connecting it with what that specific company does. You need to make it easy for them to imagine you doing that role, and make it obvious why they should be interested in you. That way you’ve got a much stronger chance of them offering you an interview for the role you are interested in.