Employers come to town- are you missing a great opportunity?

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As some employers look to complete their annual intake whilst others may be hitting the market for the first time prompted recruitment_fairsby the influx of new graduates, many universities across the UK including Newcastle, host Graduate Fairs to bring together recruiters and potential applicants  Given how few organisations target postgraduates directly, it’s easy to assume these events have little to offer those with research experience.

However, in reality the majority of PhD graduates eventually find work outside academia making recruitment fairs potentially a great opportunity to explore some of the options, provided you keep an open mind and understand most graduate recruiters will be more interested in the relevance of your background than the level of your degree.

Whether you’re already searching for jobs or life outside academia still seems a distant prospect, read on and find out why an hour at Newcastle Graduate Recruitment Fair (NGRF) could be your most productive lunch break yet. Read on for more….

1. The chance to meet employers face-to-face and gain an informed perspective – no strings attached!

Despite advances in social media revolutionising the recruitment process and how we engage with organisations, employers still want to meet applicants and promote their organisation. Face-to-face contact gives them the chance to test the market and hopefully, increase the number of well-informed, quality applications. Perhaps, more importantly, it gives you the chance to find out what they will expect you to do and whether they’re right for you.

Prepare a few well considered questions beforehand and you will glean invaluable insights into the organisation and the work they offer- in a fraction of the time it would otherwise take to make contact yourself. Fairs are a great opportunity to ask questions rarely answered online. For example, ‘What are the priorities and challenges for the organisation? Have they recruited PhD graduates in the past? If so, where? How have they progressed? Are there other routes into the organisation for someone with previous work experience? How might you keep in touch?’ If you find yourself talking to someone who can’t answer your questions, ask (politely) who can and email them afterwards not forgetting to mention who referred you to them.

Most recruiters have immediate vacancies to fill and want to talk to as many people as possible on the day, so remember to keep to the point and don’t try to command all their time. Any longer than four or five minutes is a bonus.

2. Boost your chances of success

All recruiters will want to know why you applied to them. Talking to a variety of different organisations possibly across different sectors, you not only have the opportunity to learn more about the current trends and challenges for these organisations but you’ll be well informed when it’s your turn to persuade them why you’re the right person for them. This year, over 50 employers from a range of sectors will be attending NGRF.

3. Create a great first impression

Briefly introduce yourself to representatives at the stands and ask key questions and you’ll impress most recruiters. Try and practise a (short) pitch beforehand. Bear in mind not everyone will immediately see the relevance of your PhD so be ready to sell what you have to offer. For example, ‘working on an extended research project, I’ve honed by project and time management skills alongside team working and communication skills. Could you tell me more about your opportunities in….. and where my skills might be best used in your organisation?’ If they are impressed by you, they may want to take your details. If they do, make a note of their name and follow up with an email.

4. Finally, Graduate Fairs can be a great way to find inspiration

Chance still plays a part in the most carefully planned careers. Keep an open mind – there might be companies you’ve never heard of which have great opportunities and some companies might offer roles that you don’t expect. Check the fair guide online or on the day to see what they offer. And remember to follow our advice.

Employers are there to promote their opportunities. They want to talk and many are recent graduates themselves. Take the opportunity to ask them what attracted them to their organisation and gain further useful insights.

Want to know more?

Come along to Newcastle Graduate Recruitment Fair (NGRF) on Monday 8th June from 10.30am until 2.30pm at Newcastle United Football Club. No need to book- just turn up on the day and make the most of the opportunity to speak to employers and find out what they might be able to offer you! For updates about the event, follow #NGRF on Twitter.

For information on fairs taking place in other countries, see working outside the UK.

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