Job Hunting: How to Find Your Next Step by Taking Your Search Offline

Job seeking in the tech world in 2019 is in an unusual place. The industry is growing rapidly, with innovative new technologies and applications appearing regularly. At the moment, there are far more jobs available nationwide than there are devs to take them, but unfortunately that doesn’t always mean that finding your next challenge is simple. Competition for roles at certain popular companies can be fierce, and in a crowded marketplace, it’s not always easy to find the positions most suited to you. 

Naturally, most communication when looking for a new role happens online, but a good way to seek out vacancies is to head to a hiring event. This gives you the chance to speak with companies directly about their openings in a relaxed face-to-face environment. 

Taking the low-tech, offline approach can be a really effective method for discovering where you want to work next.

Discovery
Attending a hiring event is a great opportunity to get a real feel of what it would be like to work within different types of teams. If you’ve spent your career up until that point working for larger companies, spend some time talking to the startups and scaleups to find out how they structure and operate their tech teams and if that style of working appeals to you. 

Good hiring events will feature companies from all corners of the tech scene and are a guide to what’s breaking through and which industries are on the rise. It’s a snapshot of what’s making waves at that particular moment in time and you can take advantage of this. In a couple of hours, you can find out how people with similar skills to yours are applying what they can do to a wide range of different products. You could move from a conversation with a company like Kobalt Music – a services platform reinventing how music rights are handled in the digital age – to Citymapper – a transport app using data to master cities – with a stop-off at a tech giant like Amazon or Google in between. Find out what’s exciting about working in different sectors, like EduTech, MedTech or FinTech, from the people that actually work there.

You can use an event to take one evening and get 10 different visions of what your future might look like. Even if you don’t find your dream job – you’ll have a good idea of how you might fit into different types of tech teams and where to move next.

Skip the recruiter
The best way to know if you want to work with someone is to hang out with them, in the real world. A hiring event is your chance to meet the actual people that you’d be spending every day with if you took a job with the company. Companies will often use these events to get their tech leaders and actual developers in front of the people they want to hire – rather than recruiters or HR managers who don’t have a background in engineering. Getting to chat to a CTO or Team Lead is a level of access you can’t always expect ahead of taking a job somewhere. It’s an opportunity to discuss the things that matter to you and make a lasting impression. 

You’re in control
Being in the same physical space with the hiring companies means you get to choose who you talk to, and make a first impression on your own terms. At a busy event with lots of different hiring teams, the pressure is off when compared to a traditional interview. You get to choose the questions you want to ask and it’s just as much about the companies impressing you as it is about you impressing them. The event is your chance to sound out different teams and find people that you’d like to collaborate with. Speaking at a hiring event in London, Kate Mayfield, Delivery Lead at HSBC, said “people are exchanging honest views about the roles and what they want to do. We’re assessing them and they’re assessing us. It’s an equal footing and that’s how it should be.” 

Not everything you need to know is listed in job ads so it’s useful to be able to find out what it’s like to work at a company – what is the company culture like and, crucially, how much room do you have to add to the team and make a positive difference?

Beyond tech stacks and team sizes there’re loads of less-serious things to discover about different employers, and live events are a place employers will emphasize company perks. Whether it’s the free mattresses Casper employees enjoy, generous holiday allowance, or unlimited office snacks, you can bet companies will be pulling out all the stops to convince you to join their team.

Access
It may be the case that a company you’re interested in working with doesn’t have an opening  that matches your skillset right now, but getting in front of a team, making a personal connection and showing your enthusiasm for what they’re doing means that you’ll be top of the list when a role comes up down the line. This is particularly useful with smaller companies,which typically  have smaller teams and less capacity to take meetings that include actual face time with potential hires.

It’s not unheard of that when presented with someone who would make a great addition to their team, a company will find a role for them. When asked about the kind of people they meet at hiring events, a Senior iOS Developer at The Guardian said: “some of the people here are people we didn’t even know we were looking for, and I’ve learnt loads from them.”

Speed
Of course, one of the biggest reasons to head to a hiring event when you’re thinking about your next step is just how efficient the process is. Instead of searching out vacancies online, writing a cover letter and tweaking your resume for each position you’re interested in, you hit a bunch of companies in the space of one evening. If you’ve got a long list of places you’d like to work and need some direction, it’s the perfect time to find out more about all of them and filter down to a shortlist of exactly where you want to work. This is a much more effective use of your time than applying for a position and potentially moving through several layers of the hiring process before finding out that company is not for you.

Community
The best part about any event is the coming together of people from across the tech scene to talk about what they love doing and share ideas. And a hiring event is no different. Even if you’re not currently looking to change up what you’re doing, it’s worth swinging by for a couple of hours. Plugging into who’s doing what can provide inspiration for new ideas you might want to incorporate into your own work, or where you might want to upskill. It’s the perfect time to connect with what languages are popular and the kinds of products people are building. Of course, there’s also the chance you might stumble upon a company or job that does pique your interest and end up discussing a move after all!

But hiring events are not just all about hiring. Our upcoming event – The Round NYC – will open with some insightful talks and discussions with speakers from companies including Meetup, Kindbody and Stack Overflow’s own Jon Chan. We’re also hosting product demos from fun and innovative companies like VRBar. Our aim is to create an environment that’s an IRL version of an online developer community – as much a place to interact with your peers and share ideas as it is a space for companies to find people to join their team.

Whether you end up leaving with a bunch of useful connections or with some exciting leads on where your future might lie – a hiring event is a no-brainer for tech professionals in tune with what they want out of their career.

The first edition of The Round NYC, from the team behind Europe’s largest tech hiring event, launches on 10/03/19 at 26 Bridge, Brooklyn. Exhibitors include Movable Ink, Nanotronics, Meetup and Stack Overflow. Free tickets for developers and data scientists are available from theround.com. To check out companies hiring in your region right now go to https://stackoverflow.com/jobs.

Author

George Withecombe
George is part of the team behind Europe’s largest tech hiring event, Silicon Milkroundabout. Since holding their first event in a London pub in 2011 they've helped thousands of devs, data scientists and tech professionals connect with a range of different companies from around the world. In 2019 they're launching the first edition of their US-based event, The Round.

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Comments

  1. Stephen Boesch says:

    My experience at hiring events has not been generally positive. Typically the booths are manned by corporate headhunters – not the engineers you will work with day to day. Also they are in the “get as many resumes as possible” mode and will often not remember you later.

  2. I agree with the premise of the article, however for me there are not enough hiring events and certainly not with the right companies. Unfortunately, when time is of the essence or at least a factor, most of the communication is still going to have to be online. The other aspect is that more than likely a hiring event will only be a certain local region whereas perhaps a wider range of options is desired

  3. Musana stephen says:

    thanks for good work.

  4. Do you know of any similar hiring events happening in WA or OR? Thanks!

  5. The next hiring event I’m attending will be Leeds Digital Job Fair on October 24th.

    It won’t by any means be the first digital hiring event I’ve attended in the last 4 years. Consequently, it strikes me that getting recruited is dramatically harder than it ought to be. I am a front-end developer with a background in languages and linguistics and 22 years experience of building websites (and latterly progressive web apps) using javascript (now ES2015+), json, svg, html, css, .htaccess, php.

    In those 22 years I have worked as a classroom teacher in Japan, then as a Russian and German speaking trade newspaper reporter in London, then I founded and ran my own online travel publication for 13 years.

    I have a degree in Modern Languages, two postgrad certificates (one linguistics, one linguistics and sociology) and a Masters Degree from UCL (politics and sociology, specifically Nationalism and Identity with Ukrainian Studies). I have worked freelance, as an entrepreneur, in the public sector and in the private sector. In recent years, absent paid work, I have worked, largely unpaid, in the voluntary sector. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state that I’ve been mostly unemployed for the last 9 years.

    In the last 3 years when not working on other (almost always unpaid volunteer) projects, I have developed my own flexible, flat file CMS called Ashiva which is capable of processing third-party modules and produces Progressive Web Apps out of the box.

    I am repeatedly given to understand that, as George states above, “there are far more jobs available nationwide than there are devs to take them” but I see no evidence for this widely-held belief. It’s true that I don’t have an academic background in Computer Science but I trust I’m forgiven for imagining that this long after the 2008 Global Financial Crisis there might now be more opportunities for experienced Front End Developers with backgrounds in Modern Languages and Lingustics.

    I very much hope something will come out of Leeds Digital Job Fair on October 24th. I’d very much like recruiters to comprehend that STEM candidates don’t always come from a Maths / Computer Science background. There are many polymathic Linguists out there too.

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