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Ask a Recruiter: How Can I Build & Use My Network to Get a Job?

Are recruiting events really worth it?

women networking

InHerSight asked recruiter Daria Ilic of The Zebra to talk about how networking affects job searches. These are her answers, in her own words. Are you a recruiter with job advice to share? Email our managing editor Beth Castle at beth@inhersight.com for consideration.

What’s your elevator pitch?

I am a recruiter who is passionate about helping people find their professional home. My background before coming to The Zebra was sales and agency recruiting. I have always liked helping people, and the recruiting field felt like it was the place for me to impact people's lives in some small way. I had always heard about The Zebra and how awesome it was to work here, so whenever I got a chance to interview I definitely gave it my all, and I am loving it!  

Most people tend to think LinkedIn is where recruiters look for good candidates, but facetime is also a common and effective strategy. Why are events and meetups so important to recruiters?

While yes, LinkedIn is important, I feel like both candidates and recruiters get spammed with messages on LinkedIn; with all the different social platforms that are out there, it can be hard to keep track. 

Meetups and events help to connect with others on a different level. They help you get to know the recruiter/hiring manager/employee outside in the real world. There are also a lot of people I know who 1. Don't check their LinkedIn 2. Don't have a LinkedIn because they don't want to be spammed or 3. Just simply ignore all the messages they get because the person has not made a personal connection with them.

I’ve talked to many people who only use LinkedIn when they are looking for a role. But imagine if you knew someone and connected with them before they even started looking for a job. You could be their first go-to if they are looking or if they get let go.

I’ve personally had a lot of success with community events or meetups when it comes to building relationships and connecting with candidates and hiring managers. Once you’re in someone's inner circle, they will come to you first when they are looking for a job. Most people don’t want to reach out to strangers for help, so building that relationship can help when a candidate is looking.

Read more: Are Networking Events Actually Worth It? Here’s What the Data Says

What are some events women job seekers should be attending that you think are often overlooked or underutilized?

I think a lot of people sleep on local meetups. They go to “events” and “conferences.” Those are definitely important, but local meetups are where you’re going to really grow your network. You could meet someone who knows someone at a company that you’ve been eyeing. Just coming to events and being a part of the community has such a positive impact. 

Google meetups/events/communities that are local. It’s as easy as searching for “women tech meetups in Austin” and then sifting through those results. Once you’ve found a few, attend and see how they feel. Not all meetups are the same! See which ones you like—whether it's the location, the people, the content, etc.—find what’s important to you, and you’ll develop a more authentic connection with the event and the attendees.

I’ve found Women Who Code to be a great global community resource. There are a lot of talented women there who are also involved with so many other things. Get outside your comfort zone and chat with people and ask for advice on what you should do. 

Read more: How to Get Positive Responses to Cold Outreach Messages on LinkedIn

What are some ways job seekers can stand out at recruiting events?  

DOs:

  • Come early and speak with the organizers

  • Become a part of the community and invest your time in it

  • Extend a helping hand with whatever the event organizers might need

  • Speak at events; there are a lot of women-focused events that can help you get your voice out there

  • Step outside your comfort zone—it might be awkward, but I promise it’s worth it

DON’Ts:

  • Feel discouraged the first time; if you don’t get something out of it, go a few times

  • Forget to follow up with people you’ve connected with

  • Come in with a structured agenda; be open-minded to the possibilities that differ from your perspective 

Not all facetime is quite so structured. What role does community play in recruiting?

I will say that this is a long play. It took me going to some meetups three or four times before I was able to make any sort of impact or really speak to anyone. I just knew it was important for me to be there to help in any little way that I could. 

At one event, I was standing in line to get food and started chatting with someone. We ended up connecting and continued to see each other at meetups. Later down the line, they had a need for an engineer on their team and asked me to help! I was the only recruiter they reached out to because of our connection and my involvement in the community. I ended up filling the role super fast. Fast forward to a year and half later, and that same hiring manager was leaving their role. They reached out to me to let me know, and it turned out we had an opening at my company. They interviewed, everyone loved them, and we hired them! 

What are some ways women can build a supportive community, especially if they’re looking for a new job or planning to look soon?

Take initiative! You’ve got to do things that make you uncomfortable. Make connections when you go to these events. Don’t be afraid to speak up and introduce yourself. Event organizers have big powerful networks that might be helpful for you. And get on the social networks for these events; most meetups/events/communities have Slack channels that you can join to stay in touch. 

What are some effective ways women can alert their communities that they’re job hunting—especially if they’re still employed elsewhere?

It’s important to join the community, build relationships over the long term, and stay connected on Slack channels. Keep attending meetups, and grow those connections with meeting attendees and organizers. 

Ultimately, most people want to help and will help if they can. Going to the events is important to help you establish connections. While those connections might not be able to help you right away or at their place of employment, they might know someone who can!

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By Beth Castle

Managing Editor, InHerSight

Beth Castle is on staff at InHerSight, where she writes about workplace rights, diversity and inclusion, allyship, and feminism. Her bylines include Fast Company, Charlotte magazine, The Charlotte Observer, SouthPark magazine, Southbound magazine, and Atlanta magazine. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

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