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My employer is sending me to an industry conference to promote a product of theirs, and for my education. At this conference there will be several companies I'd be very interested to work for. Is it ethical to pursue these opportunities?

  • I went to the same conference last year with no intention of looking for a job
  • My attendance at the conference was planned before I was seriously considering a new job
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    As Long as its done during Lunch time, its Ethical. Its not nice while at work. Also it can be a bit odd if the other companies know the current employer and manager because managers go to Conferences too. – Tasos Mar 26 '14 at 2:50
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    Of course it's ethical. A natural part of conference attendance is networking with other people in your industry. If that networking results in a job offer that you happen to accept, well, so it goes. Consider the flip side of the equation; do you assert that every company that does recruitment at industry conferences is behaving unethically because most of the people they are recruiting are there on behalf of other employers? Free association is what it is. – aroth Mar 26 '14 at 4:02
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It is ethical, so long as you are professional about it.

You are there to promote the company's product and to educate yourself. You should not take time away from the time that you have committed to these activities to pursue potential job opportunities.

It should not be obvious to others that you are looking for a new position. Don't march around with a pile of resumes. Have discreet conversations with potential employers, and schedule follow-up conversations for evenings when you are not busy or for after the conference.

If a recruiter or hiring manager from another company approaches you, let them know that you might be interested and set up a time to talk to them. They will understand the position that you are in and your desire to be ethical and professional.

  • I was thinking of an analogy which happens in bars, pubs, concerts and similar places - Some girls/guys stealthily give their numbers to people they barely know, even when they come with a long term partner/date and the date is paid for by the partner. This job scenario is not too different from that. Just don't get caught. – Borat Sagdiyev Jun 10 '14 at 5:38
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Sure it is, just make sure you are being thoughtful of the function you are there to do for your current employer. Fulfill your responsibilities there first, but keep a watchful eye out for opportunities to network for yourself!

Tech conference are sometimes attended by a couple of recruiters, but mostly technical employees make up the attendee list. If the attendee directory is available ahead of time and you know you'd like to do some job networking, see if a target company is sending any recruiters and reach out to them. If there aren't any, pick a few companies that interest you, find a couple of folks attending from those companies, and proactively reach out to them, letting them know it would be really nice to meet them at the event.

Otherwise, you can peruse the booths and have meaningful conversations with representatives - noting that "this is a very interesting product! I'll bet it's really fun to work on the team that is creating this new feature/release/etc." Take business cards, write a note to remind you of the context of your conversation, and send an email after you return home from the event to let them know of your interest in employment there.

First and foremost, however, be respectful of your current employer's purpose for having you there. There's no reason you can't test the waters for yourself during your free time!

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