Updated: Jan 27
Whether you are wearing a new pair of Oxford-style business casual shoes or squeaky-clean Vans Shoes, you are dressed to impress. You scour the job recruiting event or the fraternity/sorority rush event searching for the top organizations. However, you instantly lose confidence after seeing a sea of similarly-dressed individuals recruiting for the same positions coming from the same school as you.
Both the company recruiters and fraternity/sorority rush chairs generally ask the same questions: “What's your name? Where are you from? What’s your major in school?” The thing that I have learned from participating in both of these recruiting events is that none of these questions matter.
The way to stand out from the competition is to tell them what you are about rather than who you are.
Let me explain. We can all attest to the fact that remembering names is difficult. Couple that with other basic and boring questions, and we conclude with a candidate’s forgotten profile. However, what we can remember are unique aspects of a person or their life. For instance, playing the ukulele, night surfing during a full moon, and running triathlons across California are indelible experiences that people will remember.
Think of it like this: the basic questions that employers or fraternity/sorority rush chairs ask are used to pass the time. Rather, the real meat of the conversation needs to touch on your unique self and your eccentricities that make you stand out from your peers. Refrain from simply regurgitating lines from your resume, but go deeper. Show them your true colors and you will be remembered.
You must be very observant when you meet someone for the first time. If you hear the employer or fraternity/sorority member speaking with an accent, ask them where they are from. If you have visited that place before, talk about it! Always try to find a common thread, since it will feel like an informal conversation with a friend rather than a formal meeting with a potential employer or fraternity/sorority member.
And so this is exactly what I did. When I was at a job recruiting event, the employer pulled out his phone to check the time and I saw his wallpaper of snow-capped mountains. I asked him if he snowboarded, and we then discussed our mutual passion for snowboarding for 20 minutes. Similarly, when I was rushing a fraternity, I was taking a tour of the fraternity house and noticed that the member had a wetsuit hanging in the corner of his room. I began to discuss my passion for surfing and we instantly bonded.
After successfully recruiting for both of these organizations, I realized that the process to landing a job is similar to landing a fraternity bid. Always show your true colors, discuss things that are not included in your resume, and try to find things that you and your potential employer or fraternity/sorority member may have in common.