At Peak Support, we’re always looking for creative ways to find great candidates. Recently, we hit upon a little-known strategy: hosting informal meetups.
Companies often host meetups or coffee chats when recruiting at colleges. And a few companies, like Goldman Sachs, host meetups to find software developers. But few use this strategy more broadly. And that’s a surprise, considering that we have found informal, in-person group meetings (specifically focused on filling openings at your firm) to be an incredibly effective way to find great talent.
I’m not talking about the type of meetup you might find on Meetup.com. That, of course, is another potential recruiting strategy. Recruiters can attend these meetings as observers, aiming to spot the smartest people in the room. But that strategy is unlikely to have the same yield as hosting a meetup specifically focused on recruiting for your company.
Why Do Meetups Work As A Recruiting Strategy?
While they require more time and effort than other recruiting strategies, meetups are also very high yield. Last year, we found three great new hires from just one meetup.
While each meetup might only attract a small group of recruits, these recruits are highly likely to join the company. They typically have friends or even family members who already work for us — after all, that’s why they’ve come. And they’ve made a significant expression of interest and commitment simply by showing up.
Furthermore, the meetup shows our commitment to and interest in finding great talent. By making the effort to meet candidates in person, even before they’ve applied, we show that we are willing to invest in building an awesome team.
How To Host A Successful Recruiting Meetup
We bring together potential candidates over a cup of coffee, without the pressure of a job interview and without any obligation to hire them. Here’s how we do it.
1. Pick a place. To set the right tone for the meeting, we select an informal place, like a cafe that has comfortable sofas and is not crowded or noisy.
2. Get the word out. We rely on word-of-mouth publicity to organize this meeting. Current employees are encouraged to inform their friends, former colleagues and others who might have an interest in working with the company. However, you could also publicize the meetup more broadly via your company’s social media channels.
3. Keep it small. Our groups have been small, with seven candidates or less, and maybe a couple of current employees. This makes the meeting a lot more personal. The idea is to create an environment that makes you feel like you’re talking to your friends — which, truthfully, you typically are.
4. Introduce the company. Our director of talent hosts these meetups along with other senior team members. Together, they introduce the company and give an overview of the kind of jobs that we hire for. Many people who attend these sessions are employed elsewhere but are curious about new possibilities. It’s a chance for them to get to know who we are what we do.
5. Learn about the attendees. Attendees also introduce themselves, talk about their interests and their current or former jobs. They are asked what they love the most about their jobs and what they think can be improved. After introductions, the floor is opened to questions from the candidates.
6. Get the process started. At one meetup, we handed out a standard test that candidates are required to take as part of their screening. At the end of the hour-long meeting, we had three pre-screened, qualified candidates who went on to join the company as customer service professionals.
These meetups sound simple — and they are. But despite that simplicity, meetups have become one of our favorite recruiting strategies. And as an added benefit, they give us an opportunity to engage more deeply with existing team members who enjoy having the chance to meet outside of work and promote us to their friends and family.
Have you tried organizing meetups to find talent? Do you have other little-known recruiting strategies? Share your experiences and thoughts with us in the comments section.
This post was originally published in Forbes.