How to make the most out of a Careers Expo

How to make the most out of a Careers Expo

Here in the Careers team, we call this month “March madness”. There are opportunities for students to meet potential employers every day if they want to, which we know can be overwhelming!

KPMG employer talks to student at the KPMG careers expo stand at the Commerce and Law Expo event at Victoria University of Wellington.The good news is—we’ve done it before. We’re here to answer your questions and guide you through these crazy weeks, so come and chat to us!

But you are going to have to put yourself out there and do a bit of preparation too. You have a couple of weeks up your sleeve to make sure you get the most out of the Expo. Firstly, go through the list of employers attending here—where you can explore the graduate recruitment pages on their website (if they have one). Spending a little time getting some background information on an organisation will mean you can ask focused and specific questions. Your genuine interest will be sure to impress!

Take copies of your CV and get it checked by one of our Careers Consultants. You can do this during our drop in hours or head to the Careers Expo early to get it checked on the day.

Remember: at the Expo, you have an opportunity to be more to an employer than just a piece of paper. Interpersonal, communication and work-place-appropriate social skills are critical for recruiters. They will take your name down and look for your application if you make a good first impression (…and if you make a bad one). To make it easier, you can prepare a short introduction, about 10-20 seconds long.

Be confident! Appearances matter—dress well, watch your manners and be enthusiastic. Practice your handshake (you can learn anything on Youtube).

Here are some questions you might want to ask the employers:

  • I’m a xxx major. I’m interested in your company because xxx. What do you look for in a competitive candidate?
  • What would you say are the main challenges in that role?
  • Considering my particular interest, are there additional people in the company I should be networking with?
  • What advice would you give someone who wants to break into this field?
  • Can you describe the “normal” career path in your company?
  • How does your organisation differ from others in your sector?
  • What should I be doing now to prepare myself for a job in this field?

Close your conversation by thanking the recruiter, get a business card and tell them that you will follow up.

After the Expo, use your new knowledge to tailor your applications so that your CV and cover letter clearly demonstrate how you are the perfect fit for that role. Get the name of the employee you spoke to and reference this conversation in your cover letter (for example, “After speaking to xxx at the Commerce & Law Careers Expo at Victoria University, I was really inspired by xxx…”).

If you’re merely approaching employers to ask what freebies they’re giving away—you’ve got it all wrong!

The Commerce and Law Careers Expo is on Thursday 15 March, 11am-2pm at Rutherford House in Pipitea Campus. Some exhibitors are only on campus the day of the Expo and some are hosting more events during March. All events will be advertised on CareerHub and bookings are essential.

On our website, you can find resources on making an impression, on networking, and looking for work.

Jemma Barton is a Graduate Employment Coordinator in Victoria’s Career and Employment serviceThis post was originally uploaded on the Victoria’s Career and Employment blog.

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