Here at Warwick we have the law fair looming and several other careers fairs have already taken place. You can go along to do some employer research, but these events also offer a great opportunity to impress graduate recruitment. Have a look at this clip and then here are my top tips to wow employers and get your first foot in the door.
1. Know who you’re talking to
We always ask employers to tell us about the worst questions they were asked. A perennial candidate for worst opening gambit is “What do you do?” Well, if it’s the Law Fair then most of the employers are going to be legal employers. The short answer to this question is “Practise law”. Not terribly illuminating and rather boring for those on the stall. “What sort of law do you practise?” isn’t a lot better, the answer will be on their websites!
Before the fair starts look to see which employers are coming and then identify no more than about 8-10 which really interest you. Then do some research. Find yourself a neat little book and make notes. Look at what they say on their websites about their employment opportunities and think of a question which arises from your research. If you can do this, you showcase your research efforts and look really keen, it’s fine to get your notebook out to remind yourself.
2. Be professional
This applies to your whole demeanour. You don’t have to get dressed up in a suit but it might be good not to look (and smell) as if you have come straight from the gym or the hockey pitch. Smile, introduce yourself. If it feels comfortable you might want to go for a handshake but if that’s not for you, that’s fine. Try to be clear and confident when you ask questions, can you minimise your use of the ubiquitous “like”? It’s great not to “um” and “er” too much. Law firms are looking to recruit people who are very articulate both on paper and in speech.
3. Be polite
There is quite likely to be a queue waiting to talk to popular employers. You’ll need to wait your turn but also to listen to conversations going on in front of you. This isn’t the moment to fill your mates in on your activities of the weekend. It’s good not to answer the question the person in front of you has just asked. Perhaps you could pick up from that and go on to ask a more nuanced and incisive question? Try not to hog too much time, particularly at busy stalls. Remember others want to get a turn too and it isn’t great if an employer has to ask you to move on.
4. Don’t hunt in packs
Try to find the confidence to go around by yourself talking to the firms which interest you rather then sticking with a friend, or worse approaching this on a group basis. This is about your future and not that of your peers. You want to shine personally and not on behalf of everyone else. There is nothing to be scared of, employers want to talk to you. They will be friendly and open.
5. Follow up
Make sure you follow up on conversations. Graduate recruiters appreciate receiving a polite email afterwards. You’ll need to get contact details, normally you’re best getting a business card from grad recruitment but if there are trainees or new grads on the stand they might be happy to connect on LinkedIn. Ask if that’s ok and take their names and then, when you get home, send a personalised connect request.
6. Make notes
You’re going to forget who you spoke to and what they said – so make notes, ideally after each conversation, but certainly at the end of the fair. That little notebook is going to come in very handy when you make applications.
And finally, try to enjoy the day.