The Pink Slip Party Payoff

Pink Slip Parties are back!  We’ve returned to the era of booze-soaked business-card swapping and bar-hopping.  Those of you who lived in Silicon Valley during the dot-bomb era may remember pink slip parties.  Initially, they were a well-meaning attempt to get the newly unemployed and disillusioned dot-commers out circulating and commiserating.  The events eventually became hunting grounds for recruiters from traditional brick-and-mortar companies, and those from the surviving dot-com firms.  They also became fertile ground for new startups, as laid off dot-commers banded together to form new companies.  Once the economy improved, pink slip parties went the way of the dot-coms (bombed).

Today, the recession has raised a new wave of pink slip parties.  They’re still the same cattle calls–cheap fruity drinks, desperate jobseekers, and smarmy recruiters and party promoters.  They’re still good opportunities to commiserate and share your experiences.  But, I’m not sure the real pink slip party payoff–finding a job–is still alive and well.

Sure, there were recruiters wearing green dots and a few HR pros from direct hire companies, and plenty of unemployed folks wearing red dots.  There were a few tables with brochures and job listings, and plenty of conversation about who was looking for what and what they’d done before.  Maybe, there were even a few folks partnering up to find jobs or start their own enterprises.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that I met very many legitimate recruiters–ones with actual contracts with real companies, and not simply collecting people’s resumes and capitalizing on their misfortunes.  There weren’t very many reps from direct hire companies, and the few that were there were from the same/similar companies, retail mostly.  I’ve got nothing against retail, and I understand that there simply aren’t a lot of companies hiring, and that recruiters themselves been pink-slipped.  This may explain why there were such slim pickings at the events.  But, I couldn’t shake the feeling that today’s events are less about the mission and more about the organizers’ ambitions, with one possible exception–Jobnob.  The two events I’ve attended had a healthy portion of startup reps looking for unemployed folks willing to work for free (Hey, work is work!).

Never one to knock an entrepreneur who sees opportunities and capitalizes, so I won’t start now.  The organizers are simply business people providing a needed service.  However, my goal here is not to comment on whether their business models or ambitions are good, but to offer an opinion on the value pink slip parties offer their target audience–unemployed jobseekers.  Based on the last two events I’ve attended, my answer is “No, but…”

Is there a pink slip party payoff?

Yes.  Your misery gets company.  You meet new people.  You let the universe know you are unemployed but not unemployable.  You increase the likelihood that you will find a job or a business partner by merely leaving your home.

No.  Pink slip parties are no panacea for jobseekers.  The number of job-seekers outnumber job-givers by 10 to 1, at least.  The organizers are more focused on growing jobseeker headcount than recruiter or company rep headcount (Understandable since you pay, you buy drinks and you make the events look good on Facebook and Meetup pages).

All that said, should you attend a pink slip party or mixer?

Absolutely.  Attend at least one.  They may not help, but they certainly don’t hurt.

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