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Hiring in the most unusual places

3 min read


Who needs job fairs when you have children’s birthday parties?

I was just trying to wipe icing off of my 2-year-old’s face and there he was: the next person I needed to hire. In about two sentences, he went from “M’s dad” to the writer for a project I am working on. I hadn’t even gotten around to placing a job ad yet. Now, with any luck, I won’t have to.

Much has been written about the “hidden job market,” the estimated 70 to 80 percent of jobs that are filled without ever being advertised. Whole books have been written advising job seekers on how to tap into this network. Well, this is what it looks like in real life: happy hours, birthday parties, PTA meetings and yanking invasive plants out of a creek bed with a bunch of other volunteers.

But how can managers and recruiters make the most of this truth? Is it possible for us to be more strategic about sourcing when not on the clock? Perhaps. There are few steps we can take to help things along without seeming like we’re only there to fish for resumes between cupcakes.

  • Be prepared. Always bring business cards with you, even if you don’t think you’ll need them. If the stars align, you’ll want to provide an easy way for people to get in touch with you. To add a warmer touch, whip out a pen and write your home or cell number and personal e-mail on the card. These are social contacts, after all.
  • Know who you are looking for. Think about the combination of traits and qualifications you’re looking for in the next few hires you need to make.  The clearer your own sense of that, the easier it will be to recognize the right people when you meet them — no matter where you meet them.
  • Don’t bog down the party. As soon as it becomes clear that there’s mutual professional interest, exchange contact information and arrange for another time to discuss work. Don’t hijack a social event and turn it into a job interview.
  • Care for your contacts. These people are in a tricky area. They aren’t yet colleagues, and nor are they solidly friends. You want to be especially careful not to over-promise the opportunity, and you want to make sure to keep them well-informed about the hiring decisions. I.e., they need to hear it from you if they don’t get the job.

All this partying puts us in the mood for a little reader contest.

What are some of the weirdest/funniest/most unusual places you’ve met people you’ve hired? Share them with us by next Monday, and our top 5 favorites will be featured next week in SmartBrief on Workforce, our daily e-newsletter read by 22,000 managers and HR pros.