How to stand out at a careers fair

So, who here is intimidated by the idea of heading to a legal careers fair? Generally speaking, the concept of talking to complete strangers about job opportunities seems unpleasant and awkward at best.  Regardless of how you feel about careers fairs, it’s important that students set on a career in the law are mindful that they need to be able to communicate effectively about how they will add value to the legal industry.  More than that though, careers fairs add value to your own career development - it's your first taste of figuring out how you will build up your experience and which firms you want to work with in the future. There are heaps of awesome ways to put your best foot forward at a careers fair.

Step 1: Find out who is  heading to the careers fair

Do your research ahead of time and pick which employers you want to talk to.  Think outside the box and focus your attention on what you want rather than where you think you should be headed. Then, familiarise yourself with where the booths are located. You will want to prioritise which booths to visit first. We recommend having your top five and then a second tier list at the ready. Be patient and wait to talk to those who you are most interested in meeting. However, also keep an open mind. You never know who you might come across!

Step 2: Prepare a solid elevator pitch

We recommend having an ‘elevator pitch’ about yourself which you can tailor to each law firm and the particular practice groups you're interested in. Also, think about some impressive questions to ask, but try not to ask about things you could have found out on their website. These might include questions about particular areas of practice you know the firm specialises in, or career path opportunities or the skills and attributes they seek from applicants and the clerkship and graduate programs on offer. Don’t forget to bring your resume! You never know who might ask for a copy.

Step 3: Make a good first impression

Make sure to dress appropriately  – thongs, shorts and a t-shirt might be the most comfortable option in this hot Australian weather, but it’s good to wear something a bit more impressive. Whilst you’re not expected to wear a suit at a Careers Fair, you do want to look professional and well dressed. When you meet representatives from your chosen firms, smile, make eye contact and shake hands before introducing yourself and giving your elevator pitch. Don't be too nervous - remember that they're trying to impress you too! Throughout the conversation, make sure you answer any questions clearly and confidently.

Step 4: Follow up

Make sure that when you meet new people and they give you their contact details, you follow up with them. They gave you their contact details for a reason, so don't be afraid to connect with new people online. If you don't make a genuine effort to connect with new people, you will struggle to grow your network effectively. Building relationships with professionals while you’re still at law school can play an early role in creating a healthy network, but developing a strong online presence can greatly expand your circle.

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