Going to a careers fair can be a great way to fast-track your graduate job hunt. They offer you a unique opportunity to meet recruiters face-to-face, get a real feel for what it might be like to work for a range of companies and ask for insider advice on completing a successful application.

Make sure you get the most out your day by following these top tips from the GradJobs team. They have been organizing the National Graduate Recruitment Exhibitions for 30 years, so can offer expert guidance on the do’s and don’ts!

1. Keep an open mind

Instead of just looking to see if a certain company or sector is going to be represented at an event, have a think about the skills you have to offer and which sectors you could apply them within. You will probably surprise yourself with the range of different routes you could go down!

If you are unsure of where your strengths lie, why not take part in one of the free Skills for Business workshops at the National Graduate Recruitment Exhibitions this autumn?

2. Check out who is recruiting

Now is the time to look at the list of companies who are looking to recruit graduates at the event. Prioritize those you definitely want to meet and pick a couple you’d like to chat to if you have time.

3. Research. Research. Research.

Your first graduate-level job can have a real impact on the course of your career so it is important to make sure you know your facts! Once you have decided which companies you’d like to speak to, have a look at their websites and social media feeds to find out what graduate opportunities they have on offer and the projects they have been working on. You will then be able to drop your knowledge into conversation and make a great first impression.

4. Make sure you are asking the right questions!

This is your opportunity to find out everything you want to know about graduate vacancies, the recruitment process and the workplace culture. However, if you really want to make an impact you are going to need to engage recruiters by asking something a bit different. Talk to them about the company’s mission statement, ask about the long-term career opportunities, or speak about the challenges their industry is currently facing – anything that will demonstrate you have a genuine interest in joining them.

5. Prepare your ‘Dragon’s Den’ pitch

Recruiters can get very busy at certain times of day so make sure you make the most of the time you have speaking to them. Think about what you would say if you only had 30 seconds to tell them what you’re looking for and what you have to offer them so your conversation has real focus.

6. Check your CV is up to scratch

Even though many graduate job applications require you to fill in a form rather than submitting a CV, it is still important that yours is up to date just in case. Taking a look at your CV before the exhibition will also help you focus on your key skills and examples that you can use to demonstrate them to recruiters.

7. What else is going on?

Make sure you don’t miss out on anything by checking the timetable of events in advance. The National Graduate Recruitment Exhibitions have an extensive range of presentations and extra features, including a mock assessment centre, a CV Clinic, Skills for Business Workshops and an Advice Clinic to help you through each stage of the recruitment process. Look at the event website and highlight the sessions you think will be most beneficial to you. You should plan your day around these as recruiters will be available all day.

8. Are you dressed for the part?

Treat the event like a job interview. Consider the companies you are interested in talking to and what you would wear if you were going to their offices. Wear that!

9. Note things down

Unless you have a superhuman memory (congratulations!), it is unlikely you will remember details from every conversation you have. Be prepared to take notes about key things like application deadlines and useful advice.

10. What now?

You’ve taken the first step on the road to securing your dream job by attending the event – don’t lose momentum now! Have a look at the info you picked up on the day and start completing applications while your conversations with recruiters are fresh in your mind. Don’t get caught out by application deadlines which may be earlier than you think…

Good luck and happy job hunting!

The National Graduate Recruitment Exhibitions are taking place on 7 & 8 October at Olympia, London and on 4 & 5 November at the NEC, Birmingham.

EmployAbility will be on hand at both events to answer any of your questions and help you get the most out of your visit.

Entry is free and all full-time students can get subsidised travel. For more info please visit GradJobs.co.uk!