Cocktails meet career fair as tech industry turns to social recruiting for talent

While it may look like she's out having a few drinks with her friends, Denise Duke is actually on the hunt for a job.

"What better than to shake hands over a beer than a resume?" she said.

She's taking part in a different kind of job fair, where candidates fly in from around the country to attend social events with prospective employers.  It's a mixture of martinis, music and mingling.

"it allows people to mix and mingle and network and get to know each other on a much better level than at a job fair," Rich Maloy, of Boulder Start Up Week, said.

Dan Ryan of the Society of Human Resource Management said this kind of "social recruiting" is a growing trend around the country, especially among startup tech firms looking for younger talent.

"It's almost like speed dating. And by doing that, both groups get a better idea of what the other one is like before they actually get down to business," Ryan said.

Tim is looking to fill more than 40 open positions at his tech startup and likes seeing potential employees in this element.

"They're not as stuffy and they're not as nervous and it's, they might not even know they're talking to someone who might be a potential employer," he said.

Maloy added, "culture is such an important part of hiring environments today, especially in small and startup companies, that you have to make sure that people are going to fit within your culture."

Ryan however warned that these events can run the risk of being too much fun, leading to unprofessional behavior that may cost you a potential job,

"It's just like the office Christmas party where you always hear the stories about people who get out of control," he said. "You want to be somebody who stands out to the employer but you don't want to stand out in the wrong way."

So how do you stand out?

Ryan recommended researching the attending companies ahead of time. Be prepared to hand out business cards. Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum, and force yourself to engage-even if you're shy. 

"Go to an event and just kind of wander around and see what other people are doing," he said.

Duke is using the social setting for doing just that.

"I'm very much connecting with as many people as I can, shaking hands, figuring out what their business model is and how I can help them," she said.  

Duke managed to get a follow-up interview out of the meet-up she attended.

Experts point out social media also plays a role in social recruiting. In addition to the larger, planned events, some companies and individuals sponsor "tweet-ups", spontaneous networking get-togethers promoted on twitter and other social media sites. 

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