Large-scale networking events that bring professionals in transition, external and internal recruiters together at a bar or night club are like a job fair crossed with a networking party among a smaller, close-knit group.
So to get the most out of the next public "pink slip party" you attend, it makes sense to use tactics that work at both. Monica Rodis, senior recruiter for Segue Search in New York, offers several recommendations.
Bring a Resume - in a Modified Version
Since you'll be meeting recruiters or HR people, it's natural to bring copies of your resume. But Rodis recommends a resume variant that might be better suited for this type of venue: either an annotated resume that indicates what you were earning and why you left (for showing only, not handing out), or a condensed, one-page summary of your career highlights. These variants are optimized to present or discuss during a 30-second encounter with a recruiter in a noisy public space. The next day, send your full resume to all the recruiters you met.
Do Your Homework
Most people will be overwhelmed by the crowd. Even recruiters get pink slip party butterflies. Knowing who's going and who you want to meet gives you a focus and purpose that helps alleviate uncertainty and helps you stand out.
"I had a candidate come up to me at the last one of these," Rodis recalls. "She had gotten a list of attendees from the people organizing the event, found the name of my company, looked at the jobs on my Web site, picked me out as the recruiter representing the jobs she was interested in and found me."
While the woman wasn't right for anything Rodis currently had, she certainly impressed the recruiter, who added the woman to her database.
Dress For the Event, Not the Location
"You shouldn't look like you're going out clubbing, even though you're going to a club," Rodis says. Stick to corporate casual, meaning sport coats for men and a pant suit or sweater set for women. No four-inch heels for women and no cleavage for either gender.
Have Your Elevator Pitch Honed
Have a three-minute commercial about yourself prepared. Include a brief synopsis of your skills, work experience and the job you're looking for.
Talk to the People You Came to Meet
We shouldn't have to tell you this, but Rodis says she's seen people meet up with laid-off former co-workers and remain at the bar with them all night, instead of milling around the room seeking out the people who could possibly help them get a job.
Take No For an Answer, Then Ask For a Referral
Sometimes a recruiter listens to your pitch, looks at your resume and then says, "I don't have a job for you right now." That could mean one of two things. Either they work in your area and don't have anything right now - but might in the future - or they don't work in your niche. Instead of giving the recruiter an argument about why you're a great candidate, ask if they work in your field.
If the recruiter doesn't place professionals in your area, ask for a referral to a recruiter who does. Recruiters really do know each other and chances are they know someone who places people in your specialty.