Back in the Stone Age, aka the year 2000, networking events, job fairs and industry trade shows were a great way for a candidate to get an interview with a company. A person would come to the event, wait in line to talk with a recruiter, make a great impression and walk away with a business card and sometimes actually an offer (think crazy Dot.com days).
The deal was equally good from the recruiter’s perspective. They would set up a booth, talk to a seemingly endless stream of candidates and then start hiring. It was a good use of everyone’s time.
Fast forward to the dawn of social media: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and the like are dominating the recruiting landscape. Companies are gearing their website towards internal visibility, and are generally chock full of content designed to shed light on their internal culture. The job fair as we know it has gone out of style. It had simply become too efficient to network virtually and post a job, interview people who apply, get referrals, etc.
Now, in 2016, things have come full circle, but with a flair. Companies are fighting to host and sponsor meetup groups, companies are sending their recruiters to crash the best events and each company is trying to create a more casual, easier way to enable candidates to talk with them.
This shift is due to the reality of modern recruiting, the most qualified candidates do not always apply; there is no such thing as a passive candidate and people are focused on finding opportunities that will move their career forward. If they do apply and are very active, often a poorly written resume can camouflage the skillset of the candidate.
I want to take a moment to share a little bit about what recruiters are thinking when they are at these networking events, and the ways that you can set yourself up for success when attending them. These rules hold regardless if you are attending to scope out a particular potential employer, or are just curious to see what companies are hiring for. They hold whether it be a meetup, an open house or a more casual block party style event.
What are those recruiters thinking?
- Recruiters want to talk to you! Get ready for them to try to make eye contact.
- They assume you know nothing about them or their company, and that’s okay with them.
- They want you to like their company, so they are going to tell you how great it is. Don’t resist this, it is futile.
- They want to think you are a great candidate.
- They want to have some way to see your credentials in the future to ensure you can do a job, but they do not expect you to prove it at the event.
- They don’t want to talk to you too long. They need to talk to 20 other people, so don’t take this personally. They still think you are awesome.
To capitalize on this situation, here are some pointers:
- Be open to talking with a bunch of companies. You can figure out if you like them later, when you have a chance to google them, so don’t worry about doing a bunch of research.
- It’s okay to be casual. It’s okay to ask dumb questions. It’s okay to be non-committal. Recruiters do not mind these things.
- The candidates mostly likely to be hired will be ready to get their information in front of the recruiter quickly. That could mean sending a LinkedIn invite to them during your conversation, it could be doing something similar the following day, it could mean having an about.me page built and ready to go.
- Do not, I repeat, do not think that the recruiter is interviewing you. They are just trying to get your attention. The interview will come later, I promise. Your goal here should be to make an impression, get your information in front of them and get out.
If you want to test these ideas out in Boston this week, you should. I’ll be at TechJam (http://www.bostontechjam.com/), doing my best to create a casual and easy way for you to talk to my company, Everbridge. Feel free come down and let me tell you how great we are.
Check me out: www.linkedin.com/in/4erikanderson
Check us out: www.everbridge.com