COVID-19 has disrupted the internal operations of business around the world, forcing many organizations to rethink their talent acquisition strategies.
Before the pandemic, in-person recruiting events were a common, effective tool in a hiring manager’s belt. With social distancing guidelines in place and large gatherings banned in many locales, these types of events are no longer an option.
However, that doesn’t have to put a damper on your hiring plans. If your organization is ready to grow and expand, you can still do so, and if event recruiting is a powerful talent acquisition strategy for your organization, you can pivot to a virtual alternative.
Virtual events have been on the rise for a while now, and their importance has only skyrocketed in the wake of COVID-19. Musicians are putting on virtual concerts, museums are offering virtual tours, and your company can host a virtual recruiting event. You just need the right tools and an engaging idea to get started.
Here are some tips to help you hold a successful virtual recruiting event:
1. Invest in the Right Tools
Because virtual events take place online instead of in a physical location, they can actually improve your recruiting results. More people can attend and participate, allowing you to tap an even broader talent pool than you normally could.
To reap that benefit, however, you need to invest in the right virtual event tools. You’ll need a dedicated recruiting tech stack to facilitate the candidate experience at each step in the virtual event process, from registration to communication to the actual event itself. While the specific tools you need will depend on the type of event you’re hosting, there are a few that most any hiring manager can use to attract and engage prospects:
• Event registration tool: In order to host a virtual recruiting event, you first need a dependable registration tool. Ideally, you want a solution with customization options so you can design a registration process that works for your particular event. The ability to embed registration forms right into your company website can also be helpful, as can integration with videoconferencing and livestreaming tools.
• Marketing and communications tool: You need a way to spread the word about your event and keep attendees updated in the days leading up to it. Once the event is over, you also need tools to continue engaging your top prospects. As soon as people register for your event, your communications tool should automatically send them the appropriate information they need to access the event.
• Livestreaming/videoconferencing tool: If you plan to engage attendees in real time, you’ll need some channel to facilitate that interaction. Livestreaming and videoconferencing tools allow for more dynamic, face-to-face interactions between your company and your candidates. Some tools also support the creation of breakout sessions, which allow for your candidates to engage with company representatives in a one-on-one environment.
2. Give People a Reason to Attend
To attract attendees to your event, you need to plan something exciting. For instance, many tech companies host hackathons to engage passionate coders while getting a look at their skills.
Ultimately, the type of recruiting event you plan depends on the type of candidates you’re looking for and the kind of work your organization carries out. Take a look at previous recruiting events you’ve hosted — or the events of competitors, if you haven’t hosted any yourself — to determine which ones could be translated into a virtual space. For example, a hackathon can easily be converted to a completely online experience. Other examples of successful virtual recruiting events include:
• Provide a virtual, livestreamed tour of your office and allow attendees to ask questions.
• Have a key team member host an Ask Me Anything session so potential candidates can engage directly with a brand ambassador.
• Host a virtual networking session through a videoconferencing tool so candidates can meet your current employees and get a sense of your company culture.
For the best results, consider a combination of the above, plus other activities that may be more specific to your company. Ideally, your recruiting event should engage your attendees, showcase the type of organization yours is, and make space for top candidates to show what they have to offer.
3. Take a Multichannel Approach to Marketing
If you don’t promoting your virtual recruiting event effectively, the candidates you’re looking for might not even show up. To reach as broad a section of your target audience as possible, you should be taking a multichannel approach. If you stick to just email or social media, you risk losing out on wide swaths of your potential talent pool.
Your multichannel marketing effort should include:
• Email: This is one of the best ways to reach an audience, but who exactly should you be emailing about your virtual recruiting event? A good idea is to look at your candidate database and reach out to those who have expressed interest in similar roles before.
• LinkedIn: You already know LinkedIn is a great place to post new job opportunities and engage with top candidates. It’s also a great place to promote your upcoming virtual recruiting event!
• Social media: While LinkedIn is the premier social network for business purposes, you can reach plenty of candidates through other channels as well. It’s likely people who are already following your company on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram would be interested in your open roles.
• Website: Of course, it’s essential to have a page dedicated to promoting your recruiting event on your company website. That way, people can get all the information they need in one location. To invite even more participation, set it up so that attendees can register for the event right on your site.
Using multiple marketing channels is a great way to reach a large number of people at once, but make sure the channels you’re using will actually reach the people you want to reach. Get familiar with the attendees you’re trying to attract and the communication channels they use most. For example, if you’re looking for recent college graduates, direct mail is likely not your best bet.
4. Set the Stage for Future Engagement
Once you successfully host your virtual recruiting event, your job still isn’t over. After all, the whole point of the event was to meet viable candidates who might be good fits for your organization. You’ll need to continue engaging those top prospects once the event is over if you want them to join your team.
After the event, make a concerted effort to follow up with attendees — especially the most engaged and qualified ones. Send a quick email to thank people for their time and outline next steps, if applicable.
Not everyone is going to be a fit for your organization, and following up with all attendees is crucial to ensure your organization remains in good standing and maintains a positive reputation. Even if a candidate isn’t ready right now, they might be a great fit for your team in the future!
In order to make sure the right candidates receive the right content, segment your audience. For instance, organize attendees into the following groups:
• Those you are inviting to take the next step in the hiring process
• Those about whom you want to learn more
• Those who likely won’t be a good fit for your company
Then, you can send relevant messages to each candidate. For example, those you want to hire can receive information about how to take the next step in the process, while those about whom you want to learn more can receive instructions on scheduling another interview.
Virtual recruiting events might seem daunting, especially if you have never hosted one before. However, as long as you have the right tools and a clear plan, you can effectively attract and engage the candidates your company needs in a totally virtual space.
Asaf Darash is founder and CEO of Regpack.