Cocktails On The Job Search: Employers Use Bar Scene To Find Recruits

While it may look like Denise Duke is out having a few drinks with her friends, she is actually on the hunt for a job.

"What better than to shake hands over a beer than a resume?" asked Duke.

She's taking part in a different kind of job fair, where candidates fly in from around the country to attend social events with prospective employers. It's a mixture of martinis, music and mingling.

These days, job hunters can hit the bar scene and the job market at the same time. Cocktail parties and other social events are now all the rage in the recruiting world.

"It allows people to mix and mingle and network and get to know each other on a much better level than at a job fair," said Rich Maloy, executive director of Boulder Start Up Week.

Dan Ryan of the Society of Human Resource Management said the kind of "social recruiting" is a growing trend around the country, especially amongst start-up tech firms looking for younger talent.

"It's almost like speed dating," Ryan said. "And by doing that, both groups get a better idea of what the other one is like before they actually get down to business."

For small tech start-up, culture plays a pivotal role, Ryan said.

"Culture is such an important part of hiring environments today, especially in small and start up companies, that you have to make sure that people are going to fit within your culture," he said.

However, there is a risk that too many drinks and too much fun could potentially lead to unprofessional behavior that may cost perspective employees a job.

"it's just like the office Christmas party where you always hear the stories about people who get out of control," Ryan said. "You want to be somebody who stands out to the employer but you don't want to stand out in the wrong way."

So, how do you stand out? Ryan recommends researching the attending companies ahead of time and to be prepared to hand out business cards.

Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum, and engage in conversation, Ryan said.

"Go to an event and just kind of wander around and see what other people are doing."

Duke used a social setting for doing just that.

"I'm very much connecting with as many people as I can, shaking hands, figuring out what their business model is and how I can help them," Duke said.

Experts point out that social media also plays a role in social recruiting.

In addition to the larger, planned events, some companies and individuals sponsor "tweet-ups," which are spontaneous networking get-togethers promoted on Twitter and other social media sites.