How to Recruit (Tactfully) at Creative Industry Events

By Robert Half August 18, 2015 at 12:00pm

What’s the best way to recruit — discreetly — at an industry event while respecting the privacy of fellow attendees? We’ve got some advice for you.

When creatives talk about “networking” at industry events, they often mean executives pursuing new accounts or job seekers exploring career opportunities. But considering today’s competition for creative professionals with specialized skills, leaders of agencies and in-house departments can also use industry events to prospect for potential job candidates.

From conferences to award shows, savvy employers strike up conversations with creative talent everywhere they go. Beyond the basic recruiting tips that always apply, here are some ways to expand your company’s name recognition and help fuel your talent pipeline.

Build relationships, not connections

In the creative field, perhaps more than other industries, personalities matter. Especially at a small agency or on a tightly knit in-house team, compatibility is important, and one bad hire can be felt across the board. Industry events provide a good opportunity for interacting with individuals on a social level and identifying people who will be a good fit for your workplace environment. Some questions to ask yourself include: Would I like to work with this person? Would my team members? Would he or she fit in with our company culture?

Don’t push it

Keep social etiquette rules in mind when mixing your networking and recruiting efforts: Be discreet and respond to cues. If individuals you approach appear wary, back off. Maybe they’re getting a read on your recruiting agenda and sense coworkers are, too. Or perhaps they’re just not interested in what you’re saying. Either way, be polite and friendly while respecting the message they’re sending. Simply excuse yourself and artfully move along to another potential recruit.

Attend post-event activities

There’s always another booth, session or after-party where you can encounter potential candidates. At post-event happy hours or parties, you also get the added benefit of seeing how an individual would represent your company on his or her own time. Remember that recruiting tips that apply at industry events also apply at these types of gatherings.

Follow up

As with any networking you do, keep in touch with people you find interesting. You might tactfully ask whether a person plans to attend a seminar or meetup in your city. If people from your office or creative team grab dinner at a favorite eatery after work, suggest the potential candidate join you. This latter option will help you assess the individual’s fit with your employees.

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