5 Tips to Find Your Next Job at #SXSW

SXSW is one conference where magic happens. It’s the combination of upwards of 30,000 people who are participating in a single event or a supplementary event that supports SXSW and in one of the most inviting cities in the world, Austin, Texas. This year I have the privilege of speaking at a session called Resumes Suck! 7 Ways to Land a Job in Social Media as part of SXSW’s Job Market Expo.

If you’re eyeing dipping your to into the  job market at SXSW, you’re not alone. Fifty percent of Americans are considering making a career change in 2016. Conferences and events like SXSW are amazing places for recruiters to source for talent but are equally important for job seekers who are in the market for a job. SXSW presents a large opportunity not just to connect with recruiters but peers as well as hiring managers who are looking to grow and build new teams.



This year I’m proud to report that the SXSW Conference has taken notice of the increasingly competitive job market for technology companies looking to snag talented programmers, engineers, and developers or what I call the Knowledge Class.  Many conferences offer job boards or locations for companies attending the conference or who serve as vendors at large conferences and events to post their job openings.  SXSW is offering a free and open to the public part part of their interactive media conference specifically for job seekers. You can access it at no cost, connect with employers and mingle with other job seekers and speakers like me.

#1 – Update Your Social Profiles for Job Search Networking

When giving the opportunity to engage a large audience who is inherently social, it’s important to make sure that your blog, LinkedIn profile, and other social media accounts are up to date, current, and contain the appropriate contact information to assist your search for SXSW jobs.  If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your cell phone number with the Internet masses, set up a Google Voice number for no cost and little risk.  I can answer the phone and receive texts without the risk of sharing my personal cell phone number to the social media masses.  (Here are 3 suggestions to update your LinkedIn Profile.)

#2 – Tweet, Instagram and SnapChat with Caution at SXSW

The world is a stage, even at the SXSW Conference which is why I recommend tweeting, instagraming and Snapchatting with caution. When in sessions or attending events, use secondary hash tags during sessions to connect with potential hiring managers both in Austin and watching, recruiting from afar. Take advantage of SXSW’s social network to connect with speakers and other attendees.

#3 – Attend Small and Specific Meetups

SXSW is best known for its large parties that go on for deep into the night.  Loud music and free flowing alcohol doesn’t always make for the most meaningful business conversations.  While fun, these late night events don’t make for the best professional decisions certainly ones that are forever captured on Periscope, Snapchat and promotional video. Commit to Connect with people one on one in a more intimate and smaller setting like over dinner, quiet drinks, or at the many meetups specific for industry and job title. Use Eventbrite to search for smaller meetups and events or sites like RVPster as well as the SXSW Event App which lists a number of meetups and SXSW events you can attend if you are a badge holder for the event. Use good judgement because you never know who you might connect with.

#4 – Go to Sessions and Ask Questions

Don’t just attend meetups and cocktail receptions. Attend sessions, ask questions and connect with speakers and session attendees both online and most importantly in person. It’s those random connections and meetups that make SXSW one of the most special places to build your professional network.

#5 – Channel Your Southern Hospitality

The SXSW Conference is one of the friendliest and most laid back conferences you will ever experience.  Pull up a chair at a table and start talking.  For those PR, marketing professionals or bloggers, consider visiting the blogger’s lounge to connect with an eclectic mix of social media influencers, PR professionals, and others.  A key component of conference job search advice is to keep business cards handy and make sure they include important contact information, such as your Twitter profile. The relationships established here may be imperative to your SXSW job search.


Most of all relax, enjoy and open yourself up to meeting new people outside your comfort zone.  Conferences like SXSW can lead to amazing job opportunities and new business connections.  Put yourself out there and enjoy the SXSW Conference, but most importantly develop a plan not just to enjoy SXSW but more importantly on how you will follow up with new connections, contacts and friends.

*Employers wishing to learn more about exhibiting at the Job Market Expo can click here

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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.

Reader Interactions


  1. Mark Irwin says

    YOu write “SXSW is offering a free and open to the public part part of their interactive media conference specifically for job seekers. You can access it at no cost, connect with employers and mingle with other job seekers and speakers like me.”
    How does an employer participate in this free opportunity?



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