Looking for a new job? Or are you an employer looking to hire? This post examines an often underutilized jobseeking and recruitment tactic: networking at events.
We’ve all heard the cheesy saying: “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” It’s certainly true though, which is why networking is so effective. Of course, people network for all sorts of reasons – not just when they’re looking to win a new client or customer. Going to events and meetups can be a really good way to get yourself out there as a job candidate as well. And I’d also argue that it’s a really good way for employers to meet and recognise potential talent on a local scale. Here are the reasons why you should do it, covering both sides…
The benefits for jobseekers
Let’s suppose that you’re a software tester working in a big city. You like your current job, but you’d like to know what else is potentially out there. You could check out the job boards or discreetly get in touch with a recruitment agency, but you also could consider going along to a local software testing meetup. Why would you want to do that? Well…
You can get inside info from other people in your industry
Put simply? People talk. If you’re in a room full of industry peers, some of the people there might end up talking about how their jobs are going, who the good or bad companies to work for are, and more. Over time (especially if you go to the meetup on multiple occasions, or a variety of meetups), you can get a good idea of the good employers and the… err… not-so-good employers – which can be handy to know if you’re then considering approaching some of them with your résumé.
You might find out about an unadvertised role
If you were to decide not to bother going to meetups and just used job boards and/or recruitment agencies instead (the example I used a couple of paragraphs ago), you’re still likely to come across a plethora of opportunities. But what if something comes your way by chance while attending a meetup? All it takes is someone to say something like: “we haven’t advertised it yet, but we’re looking for a software tester to join our team” or “[Company X] has only advertised this on their website – nowhere else” and you’ve already gotten word of a less fought-after role.
You could meet your next employer
Who knows! You might even end up hitting it off with someone at the meetup, only later to find out that they’re the CEO of a locally-based startup who’s growing a team, which includes software testers. The added bonus here is that you might’ve already built a rapport with them and can see yourself having a great professional relationship with them long term. In other words, you have a good feeling that they’ll make a good boss, whereas applying for a role online could mean having an interview with and being hired by someone who’s essentially a stranger – and you may not properly get to know them until you’ve left your previously role and joined their company.
The benefits for employers
It’s not just jobseekers/employees who can benefit this way. Despite being a freelancer, one of the reasons I started my meetup – Cardiff SEO Meet – was because I thought it’d be a good way to meet potential employees, should I ever wish to grow my business into a fully-fledged agency one day. And in fact, shortly after setting up and running the meetup, somebody emailed me asking if they could intern for me – so it does work.
You get to know who’s who in your industry locally (including potential hires)
The traditional method of recruiting job candidates just feels so… ‘faceless,’ wouldn’t you agree? (Up until the interview phase, of course!) However, by going along to meetups, you can get to know people who you may want to work for you one day. By meeting them and chatting to them at a meetup, you might’ve already gotten a good idea of their skillset, their attitude, their background and their career plans – which is a handy position to be in once you’re ready to recruit for a role that they may be suited for.
You get exposure – especially if you become a sponsor
Some meetups announce local job ads at their meetup. After all, it makes sense: if you’re a software tester at a software testing meetup, it might be handy to know what software testing roles are out there at that moment. Therefore if you’re an employer and you have a role that you’re actively looking to fill, be sure to let the organizer know and ask them if they can give it a shout-out at the next event.
Of course, you can always take it further: by becoming a sponsor. Some meetups’ sponsorship packages are really reasonable – all you have to do is cover the cost of some food and drink or perhaps the venue. In return for doing so, you’d get more exposure – not only to the attendees of the meetup but much broader: think the meetup’s website or Meetup.com page (if they use that), their social media channels, and so on. You’re also supporting a local meetup, which looks generous and altruistic, which in turn potentially reflects well on you as an employer. It’s a nice way to show that you give a damn, to put it politely!
Ready to find your next role or next hire, respectively? Meetup.com is a good starting point to find out what meetups are in your industry that are local to you.
Just remember: don’t go along to such events under the guise that you only care about who’s hiring or who’s looking for a job! Go along, network, make friends, share stories and let the opportunities fall naturally.