If you’re in the recruiting business, you know finding qualified talent is no easy task. It can take months and hundreds if not thousands of dollars to fill an open position. With unemployment low, fierce competition exists between employers. It can be tough to hone in on the best talent when other organizations are vying for it as well.

There is, however, one often overlooked way to source top talent that can make your job easier: participating in industry events.

Recruiting at industry events offers you the chance to meet and speak with multiple candidates. Candidates can also get deeper understandings of your company and employees before the hiring process even starts in earnest.

There’s no need to wait for the next industry event, either. You can throw one yourself. Just follow these best practices:

1. Conduct Outbound Email Marketing

As you might have guessed, it’s best to advertise your event ahead of time to make sure the right people attend. Outbound email marketing is a great way to do this. It’s an easy way to get the word out, and it tends to be quite cost-effective.

Create a targeted list of potential candidates – as targeted as you can get. Start with candidates who already exist in your ATS database or talent pipeline, and feel free to do a little prospecting for new candidates as well.

The easier you make the registration process, the better. Craft an attention-grabbing landing page, and be sure to make communication simple so attendees can reach out with any questions or concerns they may have. Plus, when people register to attend, you can add their information to your ATS or CRM.

2. Engage With Candidates

Simply having candidates attend the event is not enough. You have to actually engage these candidates when they arrive.

Company representatives and recruiters should be mingling with the crowd – shaking hands, asking questions, and generally getting to know candidates. At the same time, these reps and recruiters can also give the candidates information about your organization, your culture, and your values.

In addition to engaging candidates during the event, be sure to follow up after the event. This will keep the relationship warm and cultivate further candidate interest.

When candidates attend events, they are more likely to stay connected with and interested in your company. Even if a candidate isn’t the best fit at the time, you can still add them to your pipeline. Later on down the line, the perfect position might just open up.

3. Track Candidate Interactions

During the event, reps and recruiters should be keeping track of the important candidate details they uncover. This will make the recruiting process much, much easier.

Some items to make note of during the event include:

- who from your team spoke with each candidate;
- each candidate’s contact details;
- and your teams’ thoughts on each candidates;

To get the most from your event, you may want to prepare your team ahead of time. Consider conducting an overview meeting in which you cover all the information your reps and recruiters should gather. Have everyone carry business cards and notepads with them during the event as well.

4. Get Competitive 

Want to make sure your industry event is a memorable one? Try injecting a little competition into the event.

Invite participants to go on a scavenger, solve a puzzle, or complete a challenge. Perhaps those who excel at the puzzle or challenge can earn an on-the-spot interview.

You can also give away swag to participants. Consider tying the swag to applications. If the first 10, 50, or 100 people who fill out applications get some coveted item, you’ll have people rushing to apply to your company.

Recruiting events give your company the opportunity to reach candidates like never before. Instead of turning to all the same job boards and social media sites your competitors are using, why not create a new talent source by hosting your own event?

A version of this article originally appeared on the WCN blog.

Jeanette Maister is managing director of the Americas for WCN.

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