5 No-Brainers on Recruiting at Conferences like #SXSW

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5 No-Brainers on Recruiting at Conferences like #SXSW


South by Southwest is an animal. Recruiting at a conference like this might seem like a crazy, hectic, recruiters nightmare. People are there to network, but more importantly it’s industry leaders looking to destress at the end of the day and drink till their heart’s content. How does a recruiter find, source, qualify, and eventually hire a candidate they find at SXSW?

Party like a Rockstar!

I’m not saying go out, drink till you can’t function, then sleep it off. I’m saying if someone has caught your attention go out and have a few drinks with them. If you have to stay out till one or two in the morning, do it. One way to show less amounts of corporate bureaucracy is to have fun without having to much fun. This is probably my favorite recruiting method because it’s the most fun and SXSW is about fun right? Make sure to attend the right parties geared towards your targeted job seeker.

Visit the SXSW Career Expo

Well, duh. Attend the career expo if you’re looking to recruit candidates who are either in Austin or coming from all around the world to look for a new job. This will be the mecca for recruiters and you should take note and get invovled if your company decides to send you to SXSW to find your next hire.

Attend Targeted Sessions

Looking for a developer? Go to a session that developers would go to. Looking for a social media marketer? Attend sessions where social media marketing is the forefront. Sounds pretty basic huh?  If you are recruiting for a specific type of candidate at a large event like SXSW, the sheer size makes it nearly impossible that you will happen to bump into the perfect recruit. Use your networking skills and talk to any and everyone in targeted sessions. Make sure to introduce yourself to the speaker and others around you to build up your professional network.

The Power of the Hashtag

Hashtags are one of the many tools used in recruiting at big conferences like SXSW. The new features developed on Twitter over the last year has made it an invaluable tool for the recruiter-on-the-go. Being able to search and develop a list of attendees who you’re looking to connect with will allow you to create a better recruiting strategy once the conference has ended. Use hashtags to build real-time relationships with those attending the cofnerence. Notable hashtags this year during SXSW are: sxsw, #sxswi, #sxswchat, #techcareerexpo, #tnlaustin, and #socialsiesta.

Start before the Conference Even Begins

There is an understated importance placed on sourcing prior to attending a conference. Especially conferences like South by Southwest. As the initial influx of people start flying in from all over the world it’s important to be on your game from the first step off that plane. After that point there is no rest for the weary. You’ll be going non-stop 24/7 with no room to sit back and relax. Using conference tools made avaliable to all attendees to source those who you want to connect with will allow you to create a gameplan before the initial decent into Austin. This is valuable well-spent time for any recruiter looking to recruit at South by Southwest. SXSW’s online platform is called SXSocial.

In what ways have you recruited at South by Southwest? Any tips for beginners looking to get their feet wet? 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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