You’ve bought your ticket to the Naturejobs Career Expo, which is only a short while away. Hurrah! (If you haven’t, and you can make the dates, you should definitely book a place—it’s going to be awesome.)
But how do you prepare for a science careers fair?It’s time to start planning. In this three part series we offer some practical advice to help you get the most out of the Expo. Part one: Before you go.
1. Swot up. You’ve received the conference information and accessed the website. Read it. Then read it again and make notes. Look up the conference speakers; research the organisations which are exhibiting. . In working through the list of exhibitors, identify those that offer careers which align with your professional goals. Have a look at their current vacancies. If you know that an institution or company is hiring, you can ask them about specific roles at the fair.
2. Prioritise. Now you know exactly who will be at the conference, make two lists: The A-List and the B-List. It’s unlikely you’ll have time to meet every employer so prioritise who you want to speak to the most. The A-List will be the organisations that you definitely want to make contact with, the companies that match your career needs. The B-List is for the companies that you think would be of interest, but aren’t directly related to your preferred career path.
3. Update CV. Some companies will accept CVs on the day, so make sure yours is up-to-date and bring plenty of hard copies. If you’ve got time, it’s also worth tailoring different versions of your CV to those companies on your A-List. If you do tailor CVs, make sure you don’t give a company one meant for someone else. Put them in clearly labelled envelopes so that you don’t have to worry about that on the day.
4. Prepare questions. For each company on your A-list, have a think about some questions you’d like to ask them. Do some research online, find a project they did that interested you. Employers like to see potential employees who are proactive, thoughtful, and listen well. Make yourself stand out with smart questions. Some example questions might be:
- How many applicants do you employ on a particular scheme?
- Does this job provide opportunities to move to different offices and countries?
- Do you support graduates working towards their Chartered status in respective fields?
- I’ve got experience in X, Y, and Z, but I was wondering, are there other specific skills that I would benefit from having if I was to come and work at your company?
5. Look the part. Finally, find out if there is a dress code for the event. Consider the careers fair as a series of mini-interviews: you want to impress everyone. No baggy jeans with holes in please.
Keep an eye out for Part 2: What to watch out for when you’re at the careers fair.