What do I wear and what should I do at a careers fair?

gradfairThere are a number of types of events out there all badged as careers fairs so lets break it down.

  1. Information events – there may be some employers attending but it’s not a job fair.
  2. Job fairs in your school – may be a mix of job fair and information event. Usually a smaller event for a specific career area.
  3. Graduate job fairs – usually in big conference centres or large venues with upwards of 50 employers attending all with vacancies for graduate schemes or internships.

Information events

Usually quite informal, you are there to ask questions to find out about a career area or sector.  They are often held on campus so the expectation is that you may be going to lectures around the event.

  • Dress: casual – smart casual.  Not your hoodie with last nights kebab down the front – but not necessarily a suit.
  • To do: ask questions to help you make informed decisions. e.g.  What are the entry routes into this job?  What skills are employers looking for?  How can I get work experience?

Job fairs in your school

  • If there are employers attending and you are interested in making an application to them then you will want to look presentable.  Not necessarily a full suit, but smartly dressed.
  • You may need to take a CV. Employers generally have formal application procedures online, however with a small event they may be taking applications there and then too.
  • Ask about:  What makes a great application?  What experience would make you stand out? Can you get formal / informal experience with them? What new directions are the company moving in?  Try to get some insights that will make your application stand out.

Graduate job fairs

  • Usually pretty formal with large corporate employers. They will have spent a lot of money presenting themselves professionally to you so they will expect you to look professional too.
  • Suits are pretty common.  Some people will dress casually but you may feel a little underdressed.
  • Take CVs tailored for the roles you are applying for. There will be formal application procedures but if you make a good impression a recruiter may ask for your CV. This will help them remember you later. On occasion they may be used for recruitment directly.
  • There is an expectation that you will have researched the employers before attending the fair so you need to ask insightful questions about the company or organisation.
  • Make a list of the recruiters you absolutely must see and target them first.
  • Ask about: What experience would make you stand out?  What would they say has had a big impact on business recently?  What do they think the next big thing will be? What was their experience of the graduate scheme, what were the best bits?  What do they think makes their company really stand out in the market?

Job fairs coming up – check the list of exhibitors and see what they are recruiting for to start your research.

More advice on what to wear

Overall if you want to make a good impression dress smartly.


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