Benefits of Career Fairs for Students
Why are Job Fairs Useful?
The graduate job market is fiercely competitive; for every advertised position, on average, there are 44 freshly qualified applicants. In June 2023, Personnel Today reported that students graduating in 2023 will enter the toughest job market in the last seven years.
Thankfully, for the half a million graduates entering the labour market this year, there are ways of gaining an advantage over other candidates: attending graduate career fairs being one of them.
The benefits of career fairs for students are plentiful; however, shockingly, many university students need to pay more attention to the value of career fairs. Even though almost every aspect of our lives has moved online, there are still benefits of making good face-to-face impressions with employers and recruiters.
The 5 Main Benefits of Career Fairs for Students
1) Access to Free Seminars and Workshops
While any higher education course worth its salt will prepare you for a promising professional career, that doesn’t necessarily mean the institution will provide all the tools required to successfully enter the job market as a graduate – which is where career fair workshops and seminars come in.
Many of the larger career fairs give attendees free access to seminars and workshops, which cover everything from how to present an attractive work portfolio and CV to how to draft an attention-piquing cover letter to how to conduct yourself confidently and assertively in an interview.
Career fair seminars can also touch upon industry opportunities and trends, which can lead to attendees finding new alternative employment avenues to take to land their dream graduate position. Not only does this increase the chances of graduates finding job opportunities that graduates solely searching online may miss, but it also helps students to focus their search efforts and be quicker to the post than others.
2) The Opportunity to Network with Potential Employers and Recruiters
There are claims online that up to 85% of jobs are fulfilled via networking. In May 2023, LinkedIn rebuked that fact on the basis of it not being a scientific or quantifiable study; nevertheless, a large percentage of job vacancies are filled by networking, and career fairs happen to be one of the best places to make connections outside of your social circle, which may not be the best place to find industry-specific job opportunities.
One of the most obvious benefits of career fairs for students is the networking opportunities they provide. As long as you opt to attend the career fairs centred around the industry you want to crack into, the fair will be filled with company representatives who you can speak to on a one-to-one basis.
In the best-case scenario, you will be offered a job interview on the spot. Failing that, a good impression could land you on a shortlist of candidates for future job opportunities.
3) Graduate Career Fairs Offer Free CV Reviews
Even graduates from English Literature and Marketing courses struggle to write the perfect CV that highlights all their relevant desirable skills and attributes. Poor self-advocacy skills and unawareness of personal strengths are just two of the reasons why graduates find themselves presenting lacklustre CVs to employers.
Spelling and grammar mistakes can also quickly persuade employers to put CVs on the bottom of the pile – even if you have checked it a thousand times, every good writer knows that it is impossible to spot mistakes written by their hand, which is where editors come in.
At most career fairs, there will be a CV review service which helps attendees to polish their CVs and make the best first impression on paper. CV reviewers at career fairs will offer advice on how to present your skills, experience, and qualifications, highlight any errors, provide formatting tips, and point out how to cut the fat on unfocused CVs, which can easily perplex employers.
4) Career Fairs Provide Invaluable Interview Practice
Interviews will always be daunting experiences; however, given that practice makes perfect, interviewees with practice will be better placed to impress interviewers. You can simulate interviews with your friends and family, but nothing will come close to being put on the spot by professional recruiters.
Career fairs are filled with employers and recruiters you can hone your interview skills with; even if you aren’t overly excited by the opportunities certain recruiters are putting on the career fair table, approach them to practice your elevator pitch and gain confidence in introducing yourself. It may be uncomfortable at first, but in time, you will notice the anxiety and discomfort diminishing when introducing yourself, upselling your skills and experience, and answering curveball questions.
5) You Will Learn How to Make Yourself Sound Invaluable to Recruiters
A quick five-minute search on Google will reveal 90% of the industry entry-level positions available to graduates in any given field. Career fairs help graduates find lesser-known entry-level job roles and offer advice on how to sell your skills to companies looking for graduate candidates.
For example, IT degree graduates have several entry-level positions to choose from, including help desk support operative, network technician and trainee programmer roles. At career fairs, there is a chance to explore the responsibilities of the roles and the desirable attributes employers look for on a CV.
Career fair attendees can assess their own suitability for various roles while finding out what makes an ideal employee for each position. Without speaking to people directly involved in recruitment, you would be hard-pressed to source such tailor-made advice. For students interested in taking additional courses to break into their desired industry, career fair recruiters and advisers are also best placed to advise on which additional courses are worth the time and money.
In an ideal world, finding the perfect job role and applying for it would happen effortlessly online. However, with the competitive nature of the graduate job market and the job market in general, it is worth ensuring your time in education has been well-spent by firing at all cylinders with your job search.
Heading to a careers fair may take up a few hours of your day; given the five benefits of career fairs for students outlined above, it can be more than worth your while, especially if you take advantage of the networking opportunities, seminars, and CV review services.