I was surprised to note that the fair only lasted four hours, between 10am and 2pm. This didn’t seem to fit in with the hype on the website and the size of the venue, suggesting a large event. When I arrived, I discovered it was on the top floor of the Colin Cowdrey building at the Cricket Ground. This is quite a small space, only big enough for the 15 exhibitors.
There were two empty tables for exhibitors who didn’t take part on the day. One of the no-shows was Lidl. Their shop in Canterbury had recently closed, which probably explains their absence. When I checked the cost to hire the room, there was a special price for a four-hour slot, which may explain the duration of the event. All of their events last four hours. They suggest arriving with at least an hour to spare to give you time to visit the stalls.
I arrived at 11am, and there were about 60–70 people looking around. There was also a steady stream of people arriving, indicating that the publicity had worked well. One lady attendee was disappointed. She was under the impression that she had seen on Facebook that there would be 40 stalls, although I hadn’t seen any such claims specifically for the Canterbury event.
Another attendee was disappointed that she couldn’t find anything for anyone with a disability. Thinking about her comment, I wondered whether careers fairs for those with disabilities would be viable commercially, perhaps with government sponsorship. However, this event was not for her. I did note that the lift to the top floor was barely wide enough for a wheelchair.
Excellent stalls and website
The stalls themselves were run by people who were extremely welcoming and knowledgeable. A few had some small freebies, such as mini-chocolates, pens, lanyards – the usual stuff! It was a well-attended event, well organised and publicised, although it was smaller than anticipated.
However, the website is excellent and, along with social media, there is plenty of information for jobseekers. I’m not sure whether there would be literally hundreds of jobs available from the 15 employers who took part, but if a jobseeker is local and doesn’t incur much cost in attending, it is worthwhile. Although you can find a lot of information on their website, the benefits of face-to-face contact should not be underestimated. Definitely contact them by email if it is important to know who is exhibiting.
Border Force; The Army; NHS Professionals; Probation Service; Canterbury Christchurch University; Hope View School; Stagecoach; SGN Gas; GSI Insurance; Blaze Business Signage; Avon; Blossom Care Homes; Lark View Care Home; Blue Sky Fostering; Channels&Choices Social Work Fostering Team
UK Careers Fair
UK Careers Fair is a private company. It was founded in 2016 by two young men, Joseph Hardy and Jordan Lawson, who still run the company. It now employs 14 people. They hire venues across the UK, then sell space within the venue for companies and government agencies to set up their recruitment stalls. The individual events cost £395 to book a space, although the website suggests that best value would be to book 20 events at £7,900. As that doesn’t give any discount, I am not sure why that would be better value for the exhibitor, apart from minimally reducing administration.
The responsibility of UK Careers Fair is to publicise the event as far and wide as possible on their website, on social media, in job centres and in the local press.
Their well-designed website makes some impressive claims.
5000+ Organisations across every sector and size trust The UK Careers Fair to deliver fantastic events
Apply directly for hundreds of vacancies
Reach thousands of candidates
150+ events and 70+ locations
Who is exhibiting?
It is important to find out who is exhibiting before committing to attend, especially if you are going to incur a cost or even travel to a careers fair out of your area. I found no list available on the website, even for the event the next day. From the organiser’s point of view, footfall is crucial for sales and marketing. They are not going to sell out their careers fair on the back of photographs of an empty hall. This is the advice on their website:
To find out which companies will be attending an event, you can check the event’s webpage for a list of previous exhibitors. This will give you an idea of the types of companies that may be present at the event. However, for the most current and accurate list of attendees, you can reach out to us by emailing them at [email protected].
I decided to test this by emailing five days before the Edinburgh fair. I received a reply 12 minutes later with a list of the 27 exhibitors. If you need to make a decision whether or not to attend, then emailing directly is the solution.
There is useful information on the website. It provides descriptions of each of the areas served by the fair. There is also information on various topics of interest to the jobseeker, such as ‘What is a DBS check and why you may need one for a job’ and ‘CV keywords – how to get noticed by applicant tracking systems’.
They return to Canterbury in April 2024, but in the meantime, they also have an event in Gillingham and a Surrey event in Guildford.