By: Tanya Kett & Jillian Perkins Marsh

Some say that when they last attended a job fair employers told them to apply online, so they felt it was pointless to attend. If you have similar sentiments, I urge you to keep reading.

Employers may tell you to apply online (it does save paper!), but the real reason they are there is to get a sense of the person behind the resume that is submitted online — YOU.

Who are you? What do you have to offer? Why are you unique? Are you personable? Do you seem genuinely interested? What do you know about them? Answers to these questions can only be conveyed in an application to a certain extent. Make a real connection so that when your application does come across their desk, your name gets noticed.

How can you differentiate your application from other ones in the application pile?

Do your research. Explore the event website for the list of employers confirmed to attend and do some research on them before the event.

Tailor your elevator pitch. Make eye contact and shake their hand. Be bold, assertive, and with some confidence, introduce yourself. Tell them what you do or want to do, what you have to offer and why you are interested in them. Customize your pitch based on your research.

Ask useful questions. Based on your research, prepare some thoughtful questions to generate conversation after your introductions.

Be an active listener. Really listen to what they have to say; it is easy to start thinking ahead to what you will say next, but concentrate on being in the moment. After the conversation is over, jot down any suggestions they had for applicants before you forget.

Be ready to dig deeper. If you encounter an organization of interest that is not hiring in the area you are interested in, don’t despair. Remember that organizations recruit for many diverse roles and hiring timelines are often not predictable.

Invite to connect on LinkedIn. Visit your new contact’s profile and send your request from there, so you have an option to ‘Add a Note.’ Reference something from your conversation when you invite them to connect and thank them for their time in speaking with you at the event.

After you attend the event and employ the tactics above, you are ready to submit that online application. Don’t forget to mention the contact you spoke with at the Career Fair or Company Recruitment Event. Incorporate their suggestions and offer something you learned from them in your cover letter as part of why you are interested in applying.

Now imagine you did none of the above, just attended, had a few conversations and just applied online. Which application would you be most interested in?

 

Use what you’ve learned in this article at our SCENE networking night on March 21. This event is open to McMaster alumni and students in their final year. Register here: alumni.mcmaster.ca under Event Listings.

 

Read the full article on our Medium page.

 

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