Business student, Hsiang-Hao Chen, offers some insight (and tips) into his experience of this year’s China Fair
The China Fair is a great opportunity for you to get exposed to potential employers and acquire experience interacting with them. Effectively and efficiently visiting booths and communicating with employer representatives is key to making the best use of the event. Here are some tactics for your reference. If you find them convincing enough, I would recommend you selectively using them, mixed with your own nature, and showing the unique aspects of you. Of course you want to behave properly but you also need to be different to stand out. When using these tactics, don’t forget to be yourself as well.
- Before you go, read news wisely
We all go to lectures, seminars, team-meetings, and some other things, which means you might have limited time to read news stories relevant to the employers. So, you need to focus on the news ‘closest’ to them. For example, assuming you are interested in finding a job in an UK FinTech start-up, it is good to know how Trump-in-the-house will affect the worldwide start-up industry, but how Brexit will impact UK FinTech companies should be considered more worthy of your time.
- Collect information from companies’ websites
People like being understood, so do employers. As you might know which employers are attending before going to the fair, I would strongly suggest collecting some information from their websites: what they sell, where they operate, how long they’ve been running the company, and think about how your talent might fit into their business. Your understanding may be flawed, but this attitude will be highly appreciated by the employers.
- Avoid unconstructive questions
Try to avoid questions such as ‘what will I do if I work in “ABC” department of the company?’ because you are supposed to be an expert in your area of study. Take marketing as an example. If you study Marketing, you’ll be considered an expert of marketing, so you should understand what a marketer does in a marketing department (at least, briefly). It is possible that they will put a question mark next to your research and knowledge if asking such questions
- Understand body language
Employers always show clues as to whether they are interested in what you are saying through their body language. Be mindful to these clues. Try to manage the timing of starting or terminating conversations. If they are interested, they might ask further questions, give you their business cards spontaneously, and ask for your CV, etc.. If not, try to mention some other strengths as I assume you have many. For instance, you study Marketing, you have in-depth marketing knowledge as well as practical experience promoting events for school societies. After talking 2 minutes about how well you can analyse marketing strategies and the employer’s just listening to you politely without any substantial feedback, you might want to share your marketing experience as they might attach more importance to practice compared to theoretical concepts.
- Don’t be rude. Be patient and polite
Again and again, at the booths, there were some people trying to block others as they cannot wait to be seen and hand-in their CVs. Of course ‘to be seen’ is important, but this is not an ideal way to do so because you might also demonstrate rudeness to the employers, and such behavior can greatly endanger your personal image. Efficiency is important, but should not be boosted in this way.
- Avoid doing drop-and-leave
Some people just dropped their CVs on employer’s desk without saying a word and then left. If you only have 10 minutes for the fair it would be considered effective and efficient, but if you have many hours, why not talk to them? Conversations can be informative and help you gain much more understanding of the companies. Try to avoid dropping your CV and leaving immediately.
- Share information with friends
Very likely you’ll meet your school friends at the fair. You can share information with them and very likely they will also share theirs. People’s visits to different employers is a good random sample of what’s going on around you. You might hear Friend A says Employer A is looking for social-media marketing specialists but not really a financial analyst, and given you are looking for a financial analyst opportunity, then you probably can save some time to visit other stands.
- Make sure whether the employers take CVs or not
Many of them take CVs on the spot, but some don’t. Instead, they would suggest you apply online. This signals that they are here just to let you know they are hiring, rather than understanding how talented you are. Then, I would suggest spending more time on investigating who they are looking for, and then applying online.
- Keep trying, and there might be surprises
Some people only approached a few employers and rested at the Café for quite a long time. I would suggest keep trying and talking as there are often positive surprises. For example, some employers are start-up incubators and head-hunters, and they might also search for talent for their partners/clients, who are not present in the fair. Once they think you fit into certain roles, they might connect you with them. So, don’t stop trying, you can have coffee when getting back to Leeds.
Finally, My Story
Several recruiters at the Fair were start-up incubators, and so I had the opportunity to interact with them face to face. Lucky me, one of them was quite interested in my academic background and skill-set. The recruiter told me they (the incubator) are not looking for my talent currently but one of their supported start-ups is, and then she made a phone call to the founder of the start-up then pass the phone to me. The conversation went well and we also exchanged our personal contact details later on. The start-up specializes in vertical agriculture and now is a star on the rise. This experience led me to believe that some opportunities can be indirect and hidden, but being active would help you to spot them.
Hsiang-Hao Chen, LUBS 2017