Attending Career Fairs - what is the point?

A career fair is not a recruitment event, it is not a job fair. So don't be disappointed if you're not offered a job on the spot.

So why do employers bother to come?

Organisations take on graduates and internships at different stages throughout the year depending on their needs. Some will be ready during career fairs to receive applications for graduate roles and will be keen to tell you about those opportunities.

But most employers attend career fairs to let students know about graduate programmes, internship opportunities and other roles that will be coming up later in the year or at the start of the following year. They want to meet students and interact with them because they’re looking for future employees.

What does that mean for you?Discussion at a career fair

Get out there and have a chat to them. Career fairs offer you the opportunity to network in an easy way with employers and learn a bit about the roles and opportunities that will be coming up in the workplace. It gives you the chance to get your face and name in front of employers you'd like to work for and hopefully impress them.

"Students also often discover organisations they didn't know much about so it opens up new career ideas and options," says AUT employability relationship manager Victoria Marshall who organises some of the career fairs.

"It is a great way to make a lasting impression - a good one - so it is important to prepare. Employers tell us frequently that they remember those people that stand out at career fairs so it really does matter."

Who would you rather employ?

If you were an employer would you want to employ someone who is proactive, interested in your company and what you do? Or someone who expects a job because they have a degree but has no idea about what your organisation does or values?

Employers keep telling us that they want graduates who can communicate and interact. That doesn't mean you have to be the class clown, but just be happy to talk to them.

They want to meet students who have the initiative to come to the fair and ask them about their organisation and possible roles. They want to meet students who have bothered to research them a little and show an active interest in working for them.

By attending career fairs, you can demonstrate you have that initiative and those skills - and believe me employers do remember you.

Employer comments

Treasury programme advisor Laura Baird was really impressed with how well prepared students were when they attended the Business and Economics Career Fair last year.

“We had great engagement with students who had considered and interesting questions and we enjoyed discussing how individual's skills aligned with our needs."

Vodafone Events Centre events manager Natalie Robinson says she wants to know who you are and what you can do.

“Sell yourself to us!"

Fletcher Building graduate recruitment business partner Rochelle Grant says AUT students were extremely engaging and enthusiastic and she enjoyed the well prepared questions that were asked by students. 
"I've also been extremely impressed with how many have reached out since the event through LinkedIn and Facebook which is really helpful and good to see."

Want to know more about how to make the most of a career fair?

Regular workshops on CVs, networking, LinkedIn profiles and elevator pitches are run by the Employability Lab team throughout the year. Get along to some of these and see what tips you can pick up. They are scheduled across all three campuses.

Match Ready workshops are run before each career fair. These events help you check your CV is up to date and give you tips on how to approach employers etc. Book for regular workshops or Match Ready events through Elabonline to make sure you are well prepared and ready for whatever happens on the day. 

Not used Elabonline before? It's easy. Just choose 'Current student' and enter your Student ID number and password.

Other BFirst Impressionslog Resources

If you're keen on reading more, then have a look at two other blogs by Employability - links below - that give you detailed advice on how to prepare for career fairs

Make sure your stand out at Career Fairs

This outlines ways to find out about employers before you go to a career fair, including viewing their websites and LinkedIn profiles etc. Really good information on how to be ready.

Tips for 2020 Career Fairs 

This blog provides simple tips on how to prepare for career fairs.

And if you don't look at those other blogs - then at least take heed of this infographic (which is in one of the blogs above - not telling which one!)

Find out more?

Sign up to ElabOnline and you'll find all the information you need about Employability and Career events and workshops that are ongoing throughout the year.

Not sure how to sign up to ElabOnline? It's easy. Just choose 'Current student' and enter your student ID number and password.

Written by Angela McCarthy, AUT careers writer