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Why following up employers really matters!

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Did you attend the Careers Fair on Wednesday? Can you also remember the tips we gave you when attending a careers Fair?

One of them was about following up:

“Keep notes on what you have found out. Pick up business cards and contact details so you can follow-up after the fair.”

Hopefully, your notes included names of people representing their companies and their role as well as the department handling recruiting (these are not always the people who attended the fair.) You should have some idea of how they recruit and what they are looking for.  

Now is the time to do some research. Check out the company on social media – Twitter, Facebook and Linked In – as well as their own website and see what else you can find out. It’s useful to have a look at the LinkedIn profiles of people that work for the company so that you can get an idea of career trajectories. Your own notes and the follow up research you do will really help when you make an application and have to answer the question ‘Why do you want to work for XYZ?’

Did the person you spoke to invite you to keep in touch? This can be one of the most useful aspects of the follow-up. If appropriate, send an email and LinkedIn request, reminding them of where you met. If you had a meaningful conversation with an employer it could be useful to send an email thanking them for their time and any insights they gave you. If they asked you to send in your CV and you’re interested in working for them then do so (making sure you’ve had it checked at Careers, Employment and Enterprise first).

You never know what the future might bring in terms of employment opportunities and a productive, professional relationship could be of benefit to both of you. Good luck with your venture!

Maria Duncan

Careers Adviser

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Careers, Employment and Enterprise Service

Stand out from the crowd at careers fairs – 10 top tips.

08/05/2015 3 comments

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If you’ve nearly finished your degree course, attending a careers fair where you can meet a lot of employers in a short time is a great way to boost your job search. However fairs are always busy and crowded so how can you stand out from the hundreds of other eager students? A little preparation will go a very long way, so read on for top tips on how to get the most from a careers fair.

The week before:

1. Decide which employers you want to target. Check the fair website to see which employers are attending and what jobs they are offering. Keep checking the website as sometimes there are last-minute changes if employers make late bookings or drop out.

2. Research your target employers and their jobs. Employers are always impressed by candidates who already know something about them. If you walk up to a stand and ask detailed questions about the jobs they have on offer it will show you’re motivated and not just “window-shopping”.

3. Work out what else do you want to know. Do you have any questions that aren’t covered on the employer’s website? Whether you need more detail about job opportunities or want to know more about an employer’s selection process, a fair is a great way to get answers.

4. Update your CV. Some employers at the fair will be collecting CVs. Give yourself time to put together a targeted CV and print some good quality copies. You can get your CV reviewed at the Careers, Employment and Enterprise Service but don’t leave this to the last minute in case you need to make any changes.

5. Practise your “elevator pitch”. Decide what you will say to introduce yourself and consider how you will explain what you’re interested in. Make sure you have thought about any relevant skills and experience you have so that you can build these into your conversations with employers. Practise your handshake and don’t forget to make eye contact and smile!

6. Decide what to wear. It’s not compulsory, but dressing smartly always gives a good impression. You don’t have to wear a suit but dress appropriately for the jobs that interest you. Don’t leave it until the night before to plan your outfit in case you discover your jacket needs cleaning or you’ve run out of shoe polish!

On the day:

7. Arrive early. Fairs often get quieter later in the day and, if this happens, some employers will leave early. To avoid missing out try to arrive as early as you can; ideally try to get there at least two hours before the end of the fair

8. Don’t go straight to your first choice employer. Practice makes perfect so, if you’re feeling nervous, head for an employer that you’re less interested in. This way you can have a trial run at introducing yourself and talking to the company’s staff.

9. Keep your eyes open. Some employer stands will be busy all the time but others won’t, so don’t have a rigid plan for the day. If one stand is very busy try visiting another that is quieter and come back later.

10. Take a break. Careers fairs are busy and tiring so don’t feel you have to go straight from one employer stand to another. Allow time for a quick break every so often so you can reflect on what went well and record any information you want to remember.

All employers attending careers fairs are keen to meet new graduates and, although recruiters won’t be giving out job offers on the day, many will be collecting CVs and some may even be on the lookout for impressive candidates to fast-track through their recruitment process. Get your preparation right and the careers fair could be the day that you meet your new boss!

Suzanne Ball is Careers Adviser for the School of Health & Social Work and the School of Creative Arts at the University of Hertfordshire.  She regularly tweets on all things creative via @careerview.

Want to impress an employer? Do your research

researchda“Some of the candidates were very well-informed and knew more about our company than we did”.  We were delighted to receive this feedback from an employer who was interviewing University of Hertfordshire graduates recently. Unsurprisingly, recruiters are less impressed by candidates who know very little about the organisation they’re applying to and it’s a very common reason for rejection.  Whether you’re writing your CV, preparing for an interview or planning to talk to an employer at a fair or networking event, doing some basic research will stand you in very good stead. It will show that you’re motivated and will also help you to demonstrate you have the skills and qualities the recruiter is looking for. So how do you go about researching an employer and what do you need to find out?

Check the employer’s website thoroughly

Don’t be tempted to quickly read through the home page on the employer’s website and leave it at that.  Give yourself time to read the different sections of the website so that you can find out about:

  • Their structure. Are they global, national or local? Are they part of a larger group of companies?
  • Their products/services. Do you know about all of their products and services (and not just those related to the business area that interests you)?
  • Where they’re based. Do they just have one office or are they based on a number of different sites?
  • The “culture” of the organisation. Does the company have a values/mission statement? Does it have a social or corporate responsibility programme? What impression do you get from the tone of the wording on the website?
  • Job vacancies and career development. Pay particular attention to the careers/jobs pages on the website and find out as much as you can about the organisation’s vacancies e.g. the responsibilities, the training package and the entry requirements. These pages will also give you further clues about the culture of the organisation so don’t just skip through paragraphs that say things like “our people are …”

Find out more about the sector

As well as looking at the company website, read more widely to find out about the sector(s) the organisation operates in.  Try searching for trade/professional magazines online and look at appropriate professional body websites.  Also keep an eye on relevant sections of general news websites as well as big news stories in the business and public sectors can be widely reported.  To check you’ve done enough research, try to find out the following:

  • Is the company a new arrival or well-established?
  • Who are their competitors?
  • Are there any current news stories about the sector the organisation operates in?
  • Has the company been involved in any recent news stories (good or bad)?

Do some reflection

Once you’ve done your research you will have an impressive level of knowledge about the organisation which will be invaluable no matter what stage of the selection process you’re preparing for.  Finally, reflect on what it is about the organisation that appeals to you and think about how you would explain this to a recruiter on an application form or face-to-face at an interview or careers fair.

Suzanne Ball is Careers Adviser for the School of Health & Social Work and the School of Creative Arts at the University of Hertfordshire.  She regularly tweets on all things creative via @careerview.

Prepare for a fair

Careers fairs are a great way for university students to explore potential employment opportunities and learn more about companies who are actively hiring. Read my three top tips for preparing for a fair.

Get your CV checked

Some employers accept CVs at careers fairs, so it is a good idea to bring an updated copy of your CV with you. It gives employers a blueprint of your skills and something tangible to remember you by. You may think there are no errors, but having someone else look over it is good practice. Remember you can use the Careers, Employment and Enterprise Service to help you. Don’t let errors overshadow your qualifications for a job!

Research employers

The more information you can gather beforehand, the more successful the careers fair is going to be for you. Find out which companies are going to be at the fair, and spend time researching them. What types of jobs do they have open? What kind of people are they looking for? What kinds of skills do these people need to have? If you have done research before the fair, you won’t have to ask the question, “What does your company do?” If you have to ask, you are wasting valuable time.

Prepare questions

Develop some questions you’d like to ask employers. Narrow down your list of businesses to include those who have positions you are interested in, or are businesses you think you might like to work for. Then think what you would like to ask the companies representatives at the fair.

Preparation is the key to a successful careers fair! Watch this video for more tips on how to impress at a fair:

Dressing to Impress – Is it worth it?

With another Careers Fair just round the corner we look at the age old conundrum – what to wear?! It might be tempting to rock up in whatever you happened to throw on that morning but remember, people make snap decisions on first impressions. It’s a fact, if not a particularly fair or nice one, that you can be judged on what you wear.

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Recruiters make assumptions about you based on what they experience in the first few minutes of meeting you. This includes your clothing and general grooming (hair, nails, beard, etc.). You should be comfortable when you’re at university – no one expects you to wear a suit to all of your lectures – but this is a different environment. This is the first contact with employers who are in turn looking for their new set of hires in their company. They want to see if you fit with their ‘brand’ and one of the easiest ways for them to do this is to visualise you in their work place. It’s hard to do this if your clothes don’t match.

Casual and smart

Now, not all companies are the same. Some require smart attire in the workplace, for others it’s less important. When going to interview you would research the company in more depth and decide if formal or smart-casual was more warranted (if in doubt – always go formal) but for a careers fair you are looking at lots of different companies, so what’s the best option? Read more…

Catch up with the #UHFair2014

This time last week we were just winding down after another successful Jobs and Careers Fair at the University of Hertfordshire! It was a great day but if you missed it you can still get a taste of the day here, read on for more…

The Careers Fair was excellent, great to speak to such a variety of students all keen to learn about our opportunities.

TUI UK & Ireland

With blue skies and sun shining it was a great start to the day and College Lane was looking very well turned out with the Forum ready to welcome employers and a marquee erected on the grass just outside our office. For those who had just finished their exams and were looking towards the future this could be their first step as they readied themselves to meet the 47 employers exhibiting on the day.

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Read more…

24 Hours – Count down to the Jobs and Careers Fair

24Jack Bauer from the series 24 manages to achieve a lot in one day. Can you out do him and save your career?! The Jobs and Careers Fair is tomorrow and there is still time to make sure you’re fully primed. Remember, any prep you can do before the day is better than none at all…

 

We’re not expecting CTU levels of knowledge but you need to know about the event; what it is, where it’s happening, who is attending and what is expected of you. Do some research into the companies attending, including looking at the vacancies they’re advertising on CareerHub, so you know if they’re looking for your skills. Employers tell us that one of the biggest turn off’s when meeting a student at a fair is being asked ‘What do you do then?’ How can you impress a company if you don’t know about their activities? Be prepared to stand out and flatter them with your knowledge!

Be aware of what employers are looking for from you. What skills are important to them? What should you use to sell yourself to them? Now these will be different from employer to employer, company to company, but the video below is a good indication of what to look for…

Read more…

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