Q: If you contact any employer they just tell you to apply online. If you go to a job fair, you stand in line and then they tell you to apply on the internet. I am not aware of any major corporations who do not require that you apply online. How do you get past that?
A: Excellent question Gertrude. As you can imagine, the number of applications that show up in response to a job posting can be overwhelming for a hiring manager. Utilizing online applicant tracking systems makes the burden of examining each one of them much more bearable for the manager and has added benefits for the folks in HR as well. Unfortunately, it also reduces the chances that any one application in particular will make the cut.
Maximizing your opportunities to connect with people in person is one of the best things you can do to increase your odds. Therefore, whenever you get an opportunity to make an impression face to face (at the location or at a job fair) or over the phone or on email, I highly recommend that you do. Even if all the recruiter or manager has to say is “apply online,” you should still use that moment to shine. Tell him or her about yourself in 60 seconds or less in a way that makes them search the applications that come through for your name.
If you are at a loss for what to say, start off by doing your homework. Learn about the company and their culture. Find out what are they looking for in a candidate. Is it typing speed? Friendliness? Selling ability, Writing Skills? If you are truly what they are looking for, say so.
“I’ll be happy to apply online. I know that you are looking for someone who can walk right in and make a difference on Day 1. You’ll be really impressed with what I can do. I already know how to use the phone system you’re using and I’m a whiz with Excel. Make sure to look for my name, ok? I’m Gertrude. What’s your name, by the way, I’d love to check in with you in a few days and see how things are.”
Whatever you choose to say, be sure to practice it often to perfect it so that you can be both brief and confident.
Later on, send a follow up email thanking the person you spoke to for their time and let them know what it pleasure it was speaking to them and how excited you are about the possibility of working with them.
Here’s an article to read about standing out and why it’s important. http://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2014/08/17/are-you-a-forgettable-job-candidate-heres-how-to-fix-that/