January 6, 2021

Checklist: How to Host a Successful Virtual Recruiting Event

Hosting a recruiting event is one of the best ways to engage talent and set your employer brand apart from the competition. But in today’s work-from-home world, talent acquisition is changing, and many recruiters are feeling the pressure. In fact, 48 percent of HR professionals reported feeling unprepared to adapt their recruitment and onboarding processes digitally in a survey conducted in the summer of 2020.

It’s time we start figuring out how to adapt, because recruiting events can be just as potent in a virtual world — as long as you know what you’re doing. A great attendee experience is key to a successful event, but it can be difficult to know where to start. 

To avoid hosting an event that falls flat, follow this simple checklist of best practices:

____ 1. It all starts with creating the proper event page. The page should get attendees excited about the event and explain why your company is the place where they want to work. Don’t forget to outline enticing benefits like generous paid time off, flexible work hours, insurance packages, or other unique perks that would stand out to prospects. For example, at Splash, we include details about our Take Care M.E. (Mental Escape) day program, which grants employees two extra personal days each month to help them recharge during a challenging time in the world.

____ 2. Get social after creating your event page. Help great candidates find you by sharing the event on your social channels. LinkedIn is an especially powerful tool for recruiting, so be sure to post about the event there, and use hashtags relevant to the positions or industry for which you’re hiring to reach the right people. 

____ 3. Don’t forget to leverage partnerships. If you’re partnering with a college, university, or a recruiting service, ask them to share your event — or your presence at their event — on their social channels and in other promotional materials. Make it easy for your partners by offering to write the copy or create graphics for them. You’re more likely to get a yes if your partners don’t feel your request will require extra time or resources on their part. Just remember to be a good partner, and do the same for them. 

____ 4. Once a candidate signs up, it’s time to share all the event details with them. If you have the capability, set up automatic registration follow-ups and reminders so registrants know exactly what to expect. Recruiting events can be extremely stressful for candidates, so share schedules, check-in times, locations (including breakout sessions), information on who attendees will be meeting, and any other details they’ll need to know. This will go a long way in alleviating candidate anxiety.  

____ 5. Prepare the team members conducting interviews for an online event. Remind them that this process won’t be the same as an in-person interview, but that’s okay. For example, there could be barriers such as internet speed or technical issues that candidates cannot control. It can also be difficult to gauge chemistry without the benefit of body language and gestures. Remind interviewers to give candidates some grace, and provide them with a list of best practices to help them make every interview a success.

____ 6. Don’t skip event materials. Swag bags and virtual backgrounds are good ways to fully immerse candidates within your brand during a virtual event. Sending candidates a branded notepad or gift card for a cup of coffee ahead of the event adds a nice touch that make the candidates feel special. Remember: They’re interviewing you as much as you’re interviewing them. 

____ 7. On event day, don’t overwhelm candidates with recruiters. Involve executives or team leads in some of the event sessions, or plan mixers to get them involved. When candidates can interact with multiple people from the company, they can get a better idea of your work environment and whether it is right for them.

____ 8. Track attendee data like check-in and check-out times. This helps you gauge candidate interest and identify breakdowns in event content. Tracking communication or interview touchpoints can also help you select candidates to move along in the process. 

____ 9. Send follow-up surveys to attendees to gather feedback on what you can do better next time. Surveys should be anonymous so candidates don’t feel pressure to say what they think you want to hear. If interviewees feel they didn’t get to meet everyone they wanted to or happy hour was too long, you need to know that for future events.

Following these simple steps before, during, and after a virtual recruiting event will help you create a positive experience for both candidates and your company. Keep trying new things, keep communication clear, and you will be on your way to hosting memorable and valuable virtual recruiting events in no time.   

Liz Hall is vice president of people at Splash.

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Liz Hall is currently vice president of people at Splash, leading the business's recruiting; learning and development; employee engagement; total rewards; diversity, equity, and inclusion; performance management; culture; and HR functions, with the core value that employee experience is everything. Prior to joining Splash, Liz was vice president of people operations at Cadre, where she built the people function from scratch. Previously, she was vice president of people at Trello, where, as a founding member, she grew the team through Trello's $425 million acquisition by Atlassian, obtaining a 100 percent retention rate during the integration. Before that, she led people operations at Fog Creek Software for over a decade, alongside cofounders Joel Spolsky and Michael Pryor, including during the creation of Stack Overflow. She believes success comes from leading with empathy, acting intentionally, and being equitable and inclusive.