Recently I attended the annual TalentIT fair in Otaniemi. TalentIT is the largest recruitment event for IT field in Finland. I have been attending this event every year since 2011 when I started my studies at Aalto University. Here are some of my thoughts about recruitment events and benefits of networking.
Even though my motivations for attending TalentIT have changed from year to year, I have always made sure not to miss the fair. Some years I have attended the event in search of an employment, other years I might have gone there to pick up free candy and pens. This year I had my focus on finding a topic for my master’s thesis. Even the years when I had just recently started a new job and had no interest in changing my employer, I still attended the fair to see if there’s anything new or interesting for future reference.
This year I had nice discussions with a couple of promising companies about the possibility of doing my master’s thesis in cooperation with them. It was also interesting to see Fazer present there as it’s an example of a company that most people would never think of when thinking of tech jobs. Also noteworthy was the absence of two big Finnish tech consultancy houses Futurice and Reaktor as they have usually participated every year. They must have decided that they have enough name recognition in the Helsinki tech field that they don’t stand to benefit from advertising at the fair.
To me, the value of events like TalentIT is the opportunity to network with recruiters and other company representatives and getting a good overview of the landscape of tech companies in the area. It’s a great way to improve your socializing skills and making connections. So even if you are not even thinking about switching from your current employment this kind of events still provide real value.
When you leave a good impression on a recruiter they will remember you. This is something that later can differentiate your application from the rest and help you stand out from the grey mass of junior devs. Some recruiters also follow promising prospects on their career and you might get contacted later with good opportunities. For example, I got contacted this year by a recruiter I had a pleasant chat with 3 years ago and that lead to a very interesting interview.
It’s good to remember that networking has “working” in its name for a reason. Talking with people and being social is not trivial even to those that from your perspective do it so effortlessly. After mingling couple hours at the fair I felt more drained than after an 8-hour workday. However, the good thing is that networking like other skills is something that gets easier with practice and will pay off handsomely in the long run. You miss 100% of opportunities you never hear of.
I recommend everyone to go out and see what’s available. In Helsinki area, I don’t know any other annual career fair for IT field but there are various recruitment events around the year and there are also similar events in other cities. This kind of events are often organized by the universities so I recommend finding out what’s happening in your area.