Graduate fairs: What you need to know

Want to find out your employment options after graduating? Here’s a great starting point…

No matter how far you are into your degree, graduate fairs are amazing ways to stay ‘in-the-know’ and up-to-date with immediate and future career opportunities. Even if you’re just seeing what’s out there before making a final decision on your future.

So whether you’re an undergrad, graduate or postgrad, here’s everything you need to know about graduate fairs – and how they can help you kick-off your job seeking journey:


What is a graduate fair?

Typically hosted on university campuses, graduate fairs (also known as career fairs) aim to help students’ get-to-grips with their employment options after graduating.

They also give companies the opportunity to promote their brands and source new staff for their business – whether it’s right away, or for a future position.


What happens at a grad fair?

Grad fairs offer a range of different services to guide you in your job seeking and ultimately aid your future career decisions.

Examples of services on offer during graduate fairs include:

  • CV writing clinics
  • Professional career advice
  • Specialist speaker presentations
  • Mock interviews
  • Sample assessment exercises (e.g. psychometric tests)

Some of these services are available for a limited time, through pre-registration or on a first-come, first-serve basis – so be sure to do your research before attending.

Additionally, there will be numerous companies attending who have booths dedicated to the careers they have on offer. So it’s a great place to ask questions and gather insights about working for some of the biggest businesses in your industry.


Five ways to make the most of career fairs


What companies attend graduate fairs?

Demand for the top graduate talent is higher than ever – meaning some of the world’s biggest companies attend grad fairs across the country.

If you’d like to pursue a career in technology, companies such as Microsoft and Virgin Media will usually be represented. Accountancy your preference? Well you can count on at least one of the ‘Big 4’ firms to be present.

Other companies who often attend grad fairs include Aldi, the Army, Teach First, Rolls-Royce, Sky and many (many) more.

So even if you’re not sure where your future lies, there will be a company there for you.


Grad fairs tips for undergraduates

OK, you’ve only just started your university journey. So why should you attend a graduate fair?

Well, they’re just as important for undergrads – and can help you understand where your degree could take you after you study.

  • Work placement options – These are great opportunities employers offer to undergrads moving into their second or final year of study. They provide great insight into work life after university and if you’ve worked hard enough, you may be guaranteed a full-time position to move into after you graduate.

Work experience placements: What you need to know


  • Research companies in your field – Attending fairs as an undergrad can give you a good idea of the type of companies you may want to work for. Strategic research can also be done here to decide the stand-out competitors, and then determine what it takes to get there.
  • Take advantage of available discounts – Many organisations on the day provide discounts on courses and memberships, all of which will allow you to save dramatically during your years of university. So don’t be shy, cheapskate away (and don’t forget the freebies).

Grad fair tips for recent graduates

  • Prepare your CV – Best practice is to apply for graduate positions at least six months before leaving uni. But what if your CV isn’t quite ready to face the outside world? Most fairs offer a clinic, giving jobseekers the opportunity to have their CV’s scrutinized and edited by industry experts. This could easily be the difference between getting noticed and ending up at the bottom of the pile, so make sure to have a lot of copies to hand.

                                                                    Graduate CV Template


  • Brush up on interview techniques – If job seeking wasn’t a priority during university, it’s possible you haven’t had much interview prep. Take advantage of the mock sessions during fairs, which will prep you for everything from common interview questions to what to wear – and enable you to feel more confident and ready when it comes to the real thing.

Pre-interview checklist

How to: Prepare for an interview


  • Ask about grad schemes/the application process – Commonly regarded as the ‘holy grail’ of post-graduate employment, graduate schemes provide a fast-track route to training and development opportunities within an organisation. Speak to participating employers and find out how to apply, and if there are any prerequisites to enrol.

Graduate schemes: What you need to know


  • Sponsorship of professional qualifications – Career development is highly favourable these days, and companies are always looking for new graduates to invest in. As a result, many of them will subsidise professional qualifications for you to attain whilst working. This is highlighted during fairs, and some membership bodies like CIMA may even offer discounted fees on the day – making it a more cost-effective route to reaching your career goals.

Five jobs with excellent career progression


Grad fair tips for postgraduates

  • Networking – Ultimately, postgraduate jobseekers will make of use of these fairs in the same way graduates would. However, they may find more value in networking directly with participating employers to find out more about the positions currently on offer. Constructive conversations here could open new doors, which you may not have even been previously aware of.

What is networking?


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