A little preparation can make a big difference in helping you to introduce yourself as a serious applicant and making a positive impression on prospective employers.

As you read this, you need to ask yourself some questions to get the most out of an event:

  • What is my goal? (a job, an internship, a first look at the job market, networking for a future job search, etc.)
  • What market am I targeting? (industry, company, etc.)
  • What is my skill set?  What is my main talent? What makes me an asset?
  • How do I stand out from the competition?
  • What is the value / contribution I see myself bringing to the industry or organization?

“I am looking to gain experience in the field of marketing. I am extremely creative and I know that I can bring fresh and innovative ideas to an organization.”

When meeting a potential employer, opening with a “Hi” may seem a little thin.

Prepare a 20 to 30 second introduction, often referred to as an “elevator pitch,” to use with employers. You don’t want to sound like a telephone solicitor reading a script; you want to sound like you’ve thought about why you are there and that you’re engaged in the conversation.

Keep in mind that some recruiters may take control of the conversation quickly and you may do more listening than speaking, but you do want to be prepared, to be proactive rather than reactive.

  • Your name
  • Your program
  • Your career interests
  • Your most recent work experience
  • Your main skills
  • A few words about work-related activities
  • The type of career information or job you’re seeking

If you feel that you don’t have the work experience to include in a strong 20 second intro, draw from your hobbies, volunteer experience and academic skills that can be applied to a work environment.

Employers like when job-seekers say, "I've done some research on your company and would like to know more about [...]." Here are a few tips to help you get a head start:

Visit each employment event website (CDC’s events are listed here) read about attending employers.

  • Employers are not just limited to companies. Some are government agencies or are non-profits 

Determine if any employers match your career interests (we’re back to your self-assessment!) and if you match their needs. If you find a match with even one attending employer, you have a very good reason to attend!

Learn as much as you can about the organizations of interest to you:

  • Their work, history, mission, vision, values, clients, competitors, culture, short and long-term priorities/projects, strengths and challenges, and trends or changes that might affect them. 
  • The more you know about an organization, the better equipped you will be at showing that you not only understand their needs and challenges, but can also help them meet some of those needs and challenges. This will enable you to ask better questions to the recruiters.

Widen your focus: Certain companies may offer employment opportunities outside their main field of recruitment:

  • A private security agency company might be looking for an administrative coordinator.
  • An accounting company may be looking to expand its tech support division.

There may be a lot more to an organization than meets the eye! Don’t let yourself be fooled by what you think you know of a company’s recruitment needs.

Employers want employees who are proactive, thoughtful and good listeners. Make yourself stand out with smart questions. Prepare thoughtful, focused and open-ended questions for the recruiters that show your interest in and knowledge of the organization.

Don’t walk up to recruiters and ask questions such as “What does your company do?” This is a major annoyance to employers — you’ve just shown that you didn’t prepare for the event! Some recruiters may conclude that you’re wasting their time, knowing that you could easily have found the answers online or in the organization’s own marketing material.

If you aren’t familiar with the organization, first pick up and read through some of their printed material, listen to the questions other job seekers may be asking, plan out what you would like to say to the recruiters and then approach them.

Did you know that the uOttawa Career Development Centre offers a free resumé critique service?

If you have a LinkedIn profile, make sure it’s up to date and that all the information an employer may be looking for is available. For help with your LinkedIn profile, stop by the uOttawa Career Development Centre!

Should you require any accessibility services or accommodations in order to fully take part in an employment event, inform the organizers as soon as possible and provide as many details as you can.

For events organized by the uOttawa Career Development Centre, please contact us.