Massey University CareerplaNZ

Career and student learning issues brought to you by Massey University’s Careers Service – New Zealand

Sure fire EXPOsure

Posted by John Ross on February 25, 2009

In yesterday’s blog post I touched on the possible value of attending careers fairs and expos.  Today the attention turns to making the most of doing so. 


Chances are, you’ll be able simply to turn up – in other words, without registering in advance.  Indeed, you may well find out about a Fair or Expo at the last minute.  That being said, you’re likely to get far more from the experience if you prepare well – and well in advance.


Fairs and Expos are a great reason for ensuring that you always have an up-to-date version of your ‘core’ CV/Resume to hand.  You’ll want to take copies of it with you to the event.  Ideally however, you should only pass it to employers who ask for it and who’s closing dates for job applications are imminent.  Why? The reason is that you should ‘tailor’ it for each role and employer?  If you do hand it out, take details of who you’ve given it to.  You’ll want to contact them later if they haven’t been in touch with you – say after two or three weeks.


What else should you do to prepare though?  Well, start by asking yourself:


·        What skills do I have and which would I like to use/develop further in a job?

·        Where did I develop these skills – try to think of examples from different aspects of your life?

·        How can I match my skills to jobs and employers?


You might be surprised at the consistency shown by employers and roles over skills sought.  Yes, there may well be ‘technical’ skills or competencies that are highly specific to the role.  Chances are though, that there will be ‘soft’ skills that a wide range of roles seem to require.  Increasingly, graduates will be expected to be able to evidence skills and traits that include:


Self-confidence                                 Self-awareness


Action planning                                  Coping with uncertainty


Networking                                         Negotiation


Decision making                               Political awareness


Self-promotion                                   Exploring/creating opportunities


Careers Fairs and Expos involve two-way interaction.  Employers may well be interested in you but you’ll also be expected to show interest in them.  They’ll expect you to come up to them and to talk to them – confidently and professionally.  As a result, it’ll pay dividends if you know who’ll be attending and which employers – in particular – you want to meet with.


Check out the websites of participating employers – career services can also be a great source of information on additional ways of researching employers and sectors.  Delegates are impressed by Fair/Expo visitors who know something about their organisation; who ask intelligent questions of them; who are dressed smartly and who can talk confidently (but not arrogantly) about their skills, interests and experience.  


Your attendance – and active participation – can be an invaluable way to explore job roles; sectors and employers.  They are also a chance to build networks; to ‘market’ yourself; to work towards finding your ideal career and to decide upon where best to concentrate your efforts.  You’ll be able to develop and practice your information seeking skills and – ultimately – will enhance your self-confidence.


Not surprisingly, you’ll only have a limited time in which to speak to individual employers – most careers fairs and expos will be busy places.  That’s why it’s a good idea to target the employers of most interest to you.  Try to determine the information that you need and what you want them to know about you.  Where possible, prepare your questions in advance – about the sector; the organisation; its recruitment plans and practices; the roles that it employs people to do; what it looks for in applicants etc.  Find out who you should apply to and when.  Again, career services can help with ideas on questions to ask.  Good luck!



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