Attending a Graduate Job Fair: New Top Tips

Yesterday I had a little field trip out of Norfolk and into the big city! This wasn’t a jolly day out though, it was business. I was attending the London Grad Fair, an event with over 70 different companies advertising their options for further study, employment or graduate schemes. It was held at the Senate House of the University of London, and I’m pretty sure that I was the only student from Lincoln who was there.

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Once I got there and received my fancy name tag, it was time to find the stands that I really wanted to talk to (New Scientist Jobs, Milkround etc). It’s always a good idea to try and look into who will be at a fair because you don’t want to go up to a stand and ask “so what is it that you do?”.

I found that a lot of the stands were focused on business, which obviously isn’t my field of expertise, but I still found plenty of things to do to fill the hours that I was there. I did this by attending the free talks about job applications and a guest lecture by AstraZeneca (a British pharmaceutical company that was very nearly taken over by US giant Phizer. I didn’t have time to attend the CV talk though, as several of the times for talks clashed, but I still learned plenty of information that I think will come in handy for anyone.

How to hunt like a pro

– Don’t be generic if asked questions in application forms, such as when they ask you why you want this role at that company. For example, don’t just say that this job ‘suits my skills’ – it’s too vague. Instead, go into some detail about what skills you have and apply it to the question.

– Know some job hunting psychology (this is courtesy of the New Scientist stand, only they could turn job hunts into a science). An impression can be made in the first few seconds:

  1. Your voice can say a lot about you. You don’t want to sound too squeaky, but don’t try to lower it to baritone levels, research has shown that it doesn’t come off well.
  2. If you’re a very attractive man, then you could possibly add a picture of yourself to a CV, but if you are a very attractive woman, don’t (again, this has been researched and these are genuine findings, though they weren’t sure why this occurs).
  3. Stand strong, maintaining a good posture. When introduced, use a firm handshake, obviously not going so far as to break your prospective employers hands though. 
  4. Finally, think of colours – don’t wear red, instead, opt for calmer colours like green and blue. 

– If you’re asked a question about when you overcame a problematic situation and how you did it, a common mistake is to spend too long setting the scene. Instead, use the space for your answer on the main point, which is what you did, and don’t forget to use adverbs. It’s all in the detail!

Now…I know that these probably sound slightly obvious, but if there’s one more thing that I picked up from the fair that will teach me a few things, it was this:

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This lovely (freebie) book is The Guardian’s list of popular graduate employers, separating them into different subject sectors and providing you with a lot of different facts and figures. One of these facts and figures, under Media and Advertising, was the fact that 55% of graduates did not have related work experience to the jobs that they were applying for. Oh dear.

Until next time…I better carry on with my job applications! 

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