The plethora of goodies is great, but why are you attending a Graduate Careers Fair? What are you hoping to achieve once you’ve navigated your way around the stands and are weighed down with stress balls, brochures and pens?

Whilst some people are focussed on 2 or 3 employers, others are mainly undecided in what they wish to do once they graduate so they’ll visit as many stands as they possibly can.

So how can you get the best out of a grad fair?

1. Forward planning.

You’ll know when the fair is, you’ll know what lectures you have before and after so you will know how much time you have to walk around the stalls. Plan your approach, shortlist some companies that you would like to chat with first, if you have time after you can always speak to more.

2. Research.

Spend some time researching those companies that you have an interest in. Gain a basic understanding of who they are and what they offer. You may not have a great deal of time with the recruiters at the stall so make that time count.

3. Graduate Fair Etiquette.

For me, this is super important. First impressions count after all. When you approach the stand and meet the recruiter, introduce yourself, tell them what you are studying and what you are looking for. This will open up the flow of conversation and allows the recruiter to talk specifically about what may be the most relevant options for you. DO NOT make a bee-line for the goodies! Listen to the recruiter, they know what they are talking about, chances are those on the stand either work in HR, they could be the hiring manager, or they may have been a graduate and in your position before. Verbal nods are important, it indicates you are listening. Overall, make a good impression.

4. Question time.

What are you going to ask and why? Remember, there is a chance that the person you are stood in front of could be the person who interviews you, be professional and show that you are genuinely interested in their business. You’ve already done some basic research so ask relevant questions: “What is the recruitment process?”, “What do you look for in a graduate?”, “What is your graduate scheme like?” are some general questions to consider.

5. Follow that company!

Most, if not all, companies you speak with will have a social media presence. Follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or whichever medium they use. Engage with them where you can.

6. Apply for that job!

A lot of graduates ask me “When should I apply?” whilst there is no hard or fast rule on this I would encourage people to apply as soon as they possibly can. There is no time like the present. We start our own graduate recruitment process in October and we interview and give job offers as and when we see great people. In your covering letter, make reference to your Grad Fair conversation, or mention your engagement with the company on social media. Tell the recruiter what you like, or have found interesting in what the company has been doing. This can help you stand out from the crowd!