How to write a CV to use at a job fair

CV Sam Routledge3These are the 2 most commonly asked questions:

  • Should I take a CV to a careers / job fair?
  • What do I put on my CV?

Firstly not all job fairs are the same

Summer / graduate careers fairs: Recruiters at these fairs are looking for candidates to start work almost immediately for graduate entry level jobs or in some cases summer internships.  They are more likely to consider a CV as an initial method of application. (You may still have to apply formally too if they need more information)

Autumn Careers Fairs: Many of the recruiters here will be recruiting for schemes (graduate and internship) that start the following summer. This is often the beginning of the process for them so it is an opportunity to engage your interest and get you to apply.  Few of them will take CVs actively because they will expect you to apply online.

Part time job fairs: The recruiters at these fairs are likely to want CVs and to get candidates started quickly.

Specialist fairs: There may be mini fairs organised for particular degree subjects or types of work. Find out about the recruiters and the jobs on offer and consider the type of work they are offering. Immediate start = more likely to take CVs

Find out who is attending and what jobs they are advertising for

Big careers fairs organised by The University of Manchester Careers Service always provide an online list of recruiters with links to the opportunities available (smaller specialist fairs or fairs run by other organisations may not always do this). This enables you to work out who you are interested in and what the requirements are for the jobs available.

  • So now you have a list of the organisations you are interested in
  • The jobs you will apply for

Writing the CV

Under normal circumstances your CV should be tailored specifically to the job you are applying for with a specific company. It’s not a multi use document, one size does not fit all.

So if you are giving it out at a fair to more than one employer you need to be sure that it is going to hit the ballpark!

  1. Are all the roles you are applying for broadly similar e.g all in chemical engineering?  If not,  e.g. you are applying to retail graduate schemes and marketing grad schemes then you will need 2 CVs to show off 2 different skill sets.
  2. Look at the requirements for all the graduate / internship schemes of the same type that you are applying to and make a list of the skills, attributes and experience they are looking for. You will hopefully see a trend appearing. These are your top 5 or 10 skills to get in your CV.
  3. Context: are all the employers in the same sector – creative, scientific, engineering, teaching etc. This could have an impact on where you draw your skills from – what might you consider relevant experience?
  4. If you have a decent LinkedIn profile make sure it is on your CV.
  5. Use the CV guide 

What about a personal profile?

Any occasion where you are giving out a CV without a cover letter is an opportunity for a well crafted personal profile. BUT if you can’t do it well don’t use one, a bad profile can work against you.

  • Keep it short 2-3 lines
  • Make it relevant – it will only work if you are looking for a challenging role in social media marketing with all the companies you give it to.
  • Don’t make unsubstantiated claims. If you say you have 2 years of marketing experience, or proven editorial skill make sure the evidence is there on the CV.
  • Consider your unique selling point – what do you want to draw their attention to on your CV?

Benefits of applying later

A fair is an opportunity to ask questions to make informed choices, but also to get the information you need to make your application better. If you can find out what really makes a good applicant, or more about what a role in XXX is like then you have an opportunity to improve your application. So it’s not always a good idea to rush out a CV at a fair if there is an opportunity to do it better afterwards.

Can I get help?

If you are taking a CV to a fair or planning on applying later we can help. Use our applications advice service to get feedback and tips on how to tailor that CV for the purpose you want to use it for.






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