Unless you've been living in a box throughout your whole time at Uni then you may have heard about one of the many Careers fairs that are usually on every few months. As you might have guessed, a Careers fair is like a normal fair but with lots of recruiters and leaflets instead of candy floss and hoopla. It's a chance for a variety of organisations to meet with students and inform them about the range of opportunities that they have on offer.

We all know that one of the unwritten rules of being a student is not getting up until at least half the day has passed. However, sometimes it really can be worth your while to be the early bird, particularly in the case of Careers fairs and that's not just for the freebies! This is why.

1. Opportunities galore!

First off, a lot of graduates have no idea what the next step is after they've graduated and entered the real world. In fact, many simply put it to the back of their mind with the notion of dealing with it when it comes to it. Having too many exams or too much coursework always seems to be a great excuse to procrastinate thinking about what is going to happen when University is up.

But the truth is, the time to deal with it is now; no matter how scary it may seem. One of the best places to start is at a Careers fair as it can offer you a multitude of ideas if you're really unsure of what you want to do. By speaking to the recruiters from different companies to see what they have to offer, you will find out about a whole host of opportunities that might interest you and jobs that you may never have considered or even known about.

2. What's the company culture?

Graduate fairs are a great opportunity to get a first-hand feel for a company. With almost all job applications being online nowadays, Careers fairs offer a rare chance of face to face interaction with employees. Aside from walking into the company office and having a poke around, Careers fairs present the best option for getting a better understanding of the general company ethos and culture. It's a gold mine of information for applicants and it's the perfect chance to see if it's somewhere you'd actually like to work as opposed to just anywhere that'll have you.

3. First impressions count...

Having this face to face interaction with the company is also significant because it gives YOU the chance to make an impression as well. Recruiters will certainly remember the graduates they speak to that standout. So making a good impression on a company at a Careers fair could be the first step towards a long-term opportunity. That's why it's important to be prepared when approaching the employers.

4. Don't be shy!

It may be that you haven't had much experience of speaking to recruiters or important employees. Therefore Careers fairs allow you to develop those people skills and gain some real experience and confidence in speaking and meeting new people while trying to make that lasting impression.
If you are nervous about talking to them then prepare what you are going to say so that you don't get stuck when it comes to it. First of all, start with introducing yourself by telling them your name, what you study and when you are graduating. Then you can move onto questions such as 'What do you look for?', 'How can I stand out?', 'I'm unsure of what I want to do but these are my skills and experience. Do you think I would be suitable for a job in…?'

5. Applying

It's a great chance to ask for advice and information on the application process. For example when the applications open and close, where to apply or how to apply. Some companies even take applications at Careers fairs so that's another reason why it's so important to make a good impression.
Also if you're unsure about the state of your CV then take it in for them to have a look to see whether they have any suggestions for improvements. For example ways of relating your skills and experience to the job.

6. Advice straight from the horse's mouth

Careers fairs are the perfect opportunity to ask for advice as you will be receiving it from the people who are the best to give that guidance. It could be their thoughts on whether they think that you'd enjoy the job. Or it could be advice on what kind of skills or experience the company are looking for and whether you match that. If not then there's always the chance to ask them what you need to do; whether it's gaining some more experience in that field or developing or learning certain new skills that are required for the job.

7. Networking is everything

You've made a good impression on the recruiter and you're really interested in following this career path, so now why not try and take some contact details or a business card so that you can contact them in the future? One of the greatest advantages of a Careers fair is the opportunity for networking and making new contacts. A follow-up is something that could put you ahead of other job seekers; for example a simple email to thank the recruiter for their time and how interested you are in working for the company in the future. A little thing like that can make a lasting impression and keep you in their mind.
Also don't forget that the recruiters aren't the only people who you can network with at a Careers fair. It's definitely worth speaking to the other job seekers to find out what they've experienced during their job search as you are all in the same boat. See if they have any information or advice that they can offer and use it to your advantage.
Hopefully with all of this information under wraps you can see why Careers fairs are definitely worth a visit. They offer a unique job finding opportunity and if tackled the right way can bring reap rewards. Just a couple of hours of your day could lead you a long way.
Careers fairs are generally advertised quite explicitly around campus and online but if you need any information about when your next one is then have a look at this page which has a list of all of the University fairs coming up soon.
And don't forget to look out for the guys in orange from graduate-jobs.com at your next Careers fair to grab your free Big Little Tips booklet containing some great advice on launching your career and to answer any questions that you may have!