By: Tanya Kett and Jeffrey Low
You’ve connected with employers and discovered exciting positions you’d like to apply for. Great! It’s easy — although sometimes intimidating — to submit your resume and cover letter and be done with it. But how can you set yourself apart from other applicants who also attended the fair?
It’s common for job fair attendees to leave the fair thinking that employers they met will follow up with them. However, successful job seekers take initiative and maintain their new professional connections in the days and weeks after the fair. Check out these tips for guidance.
How to follow up over email
Following up with employers will show them that you’re proactive and truly interested in the opportunity to work with them.
When you contact a representative, provide your name, school, program, where you met the individual and why you are contacting them. Remember to include your contact information. Also, use a professional email address, such as your McMaster email. (We’ve all had our share of cringe-inducing personal email names — but employers want to hire you, not firstname.lastname@example.org.)
How to connect on LinkedIn
Visit your new contact’s profile and send your request to connect. If you’re using a laptop or desktop computer, you’ll be able to add a note to your request (this option isn’t available on the mobile app). We recommend you reference something from your conversation at the fair and thank them for their time.
It’s also a good idea to follow the company or organization on LinkedIn and other social media to stay informed.
It’s time to apply
If you haven’t already, it’s time to submit your application online — especially if the recruiter or representative has requested that you do so. In your cover letter or somewhere in the application, make sure to mention that you connected with (insert name of representative) at a recent job fair (provide the date and name of the fair). Also, include something you learned about the company or role as a way to show that you’re genuinely interested.
Expanding your network
If a representative provides you with a referral for an informational interview or another opportunity, follow up with the new contact promptly and arrange a way to connect. After the informational interview, message the representative who sent the referral to thank them and let them know how it went.
If you don’t gain any new contacts through referrals, don’t worry. Try the Alumni and Partners Advisor Network to find professionals in your field or at your organization of choice. It’s easy to find new contacts and set up an informational interview.
Continue to develop your professional skills
The connections you make at job fairs aren’t always going to result in job offers, and that’s okay. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t making progress in your job search — networking and effective communication are important skills that all employers value.
Keep up the momentum by reviewing your job search strategies, improving your resume and cover letter and asking for advice and guidance when you need it.
Attend an online workshop or session: Check OSCARplus > Student Success Centre > Events for career and experience-building workshops, company information sessions and more.
Get quick answers to your career questions
Do you need guidance to help with your job search or career exploration? Check in with us to get support and get answers to your questions. Our careers team is available online for drop-in chats on Brazen every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. These chats are short, 10–15-minute meetings where you can get answers about careers, further education or anything employment-related.