Employers trying new interview scenes

Hit the bar, job market at the same time

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According to experts, cocktail parties and other social events are now all the rage in the job recruiting world. However, not everyone's able to stay professional while partying and one more round may mean one less job offer in the morning.

With a drink in hand, Denise Duke is on the hunt for a job.

"What better than to shake hands over a beer than a resume," she asked.

Duke is 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," said Rich Maloy, executive director of Boulder Start Up Week.

Dan Ryan of the Society of Human Resource Management says this kind of "social recruiting" is a growing trend around the country, especially amongst start-up 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," said Ryan.

Tim Falls with SendGrid is looking to fill more than 40 open positions at his tech start-up 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.

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

However, Ryan warns, 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. You want to be somebody who stands out to the employer but you don't want to stand out in the wrong way," Ryan said.

So how do you stand out? Ryan recommends you research the attending companies ahead of time. He says to be prepared to hand out business cards. He also warns you to keep alcohol consumption to a minimum, but says 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," said Ryan.

Duke is using this 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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