The Tinderification of recruiting has made it easy to rely exclusively on online sources for your talent. But now that everyone is looking for candidates in the same places, standing out from the crowd in the digital world is no easy feat. Sure, compelling, personalized outreach and finely calibrated candidate profiles help a lot, but at a certain point many candidates just aren’t interested in unsolicited outreach.
That’s why real live human interaction remains one of the best ways to bring strong, interested and new talent into your pipeline. Ready to take that beyond a charming email? Time to execute a real life away from keyboard recruiting event for your organization. It won’t replace the online sourcing you do, but it will prove a strong complement to your digital efforts.
Events, whether as low key as a happy hour or as involved as a panel or conference, provides the opportunity to humanize your employer brand, develop your talent community around a common interest or goal, and can lay the groundwork for long term relationships.
Here are a handful of simple and straightforward tips to plan a stellar recruiting event.
It’s really hard to get the support and buy-in you’ll need for an event without a sample budget, date, location, and description. And none of that is possible without having some venues in mind. So, before you go to your boss or colleagues with an idea, do some of the legwork first (a list of possible venues, rental prices, dates and availability) and give them something concrete to think about. That will make the benefits far easier for them to understand.
Obviously, holding an event at your office can be the least expensive and simplest option, but it’s not always possible. If so, consider nearby bars, restaurants, art studios, co-working spaces or event spaces (most cities are packed with event spaces) that are relatively central and easy to get to. That helps ensure solid attendance. Also, give yourself at least 6 weeks (preferably at least 8 weeks to be safe) of lead up time.
Once you have location and dates figured out, try to recruit partners or sponsors for the event. Combining your network with partners gives you a far larger group of potential attendees. Not only that, but adding their brand to yours gives your event added sheen and makes it appear less overtly self-promotional. When considering partners, consider local non-profits, colleges, government organizations, and even existing customers for partnerships and in-kind sponsorships.
Also, consider adding a charitable angle to increase the appeal and impact of your event. In addition to karmic goodness, giving back will attract the kind of people who share values with your organization. The ideal partners have large networks of their own they can use to help publicize the event or be able to help defray the cost. If you recruit more than one partner, try to make sure they are different enough that their networks don’t cover the same areas.
Market The Event
The key to minimizing your expense and maximizing your impact is to leverage every possible free and inexpensive online resource and network to market the event. Between your website, social media, and word of mouth, make it as easy as possible for people inside and outside your network to find out about the event. Here’s how:
- Send a company-wide email announcing the event. Include all relevant details and link to an event specific landing page.
- Send an email to your marketing, sales, and recruiting lists.
- Create event pages on Facebook, Eventbrite, Meetup and anywhere else people go to find events.
- Consider creating a unique hashtag for the event for all social media
- Announce your event across social media and use relevant hashtags based on your industry, location and anything else you can think of.
- Send reminder emails and social media posts the week and the day of the event. Many people may decide at the last minute to attend. Encourage them to invite their friends!
- Ask all co-sponsors and partners to do the same and to share the event pages with their contacts (follow-up with them to make sure they follow through)
The Day Of
All the hard work you put into the event could go to waste if something gets thrown off the day. This is how to keep that from happening.
- Show up to the venue an hour early to make sure everything is in place and ready to go. If not, you’ll have enough time to fix things before attendees show up.
- Put a bowl at the front for business cards and a sign-up sheet to collect emails.
- Have marketing collateral and materials onsite (t-shirts, pamphlets, etc)
- Recruit enough people from your company so that a representative can network and speak with every attendee if possible. Have them show up a half hour early so that the early birds have someone to talk to.
- If you’re having a panel or a presentation, put it in the middle of the event to give people enough time to show up and time to hang out aftwerds.
Turn Contacts Into Candidates
All of this planning is for nought if you don’t wind up with some good candidates in your pipeline! Here’s how to get all of your new contacts into your pipeline:
- Put all of the names of attendees and RSVPs (some will have missed the event) into a spreadsheet that you can draft into your ATS.
- Send a personalized thank you email encouraging them to look at your open roles.
- If there were any people whom you or your colleagues spoke to specifically, email them asking to continue the conversation over a phone call or a coffee.
- Track your data (applicants, candidates, hires, etc) so that you can measure ROI
- Send an email thanking your partners, cosponsors and colleagues asking them for feedback (even awesome events can get better).
Remember, recruiting is a long game. Some candidates may not apply for months or even years, but when they are ready for a new role, they’ll remember that conversation they had with you. Regular recruiting events give your hiring team touchpoints with hundreds of possible candidates that may not be attainable otherwise. Building strong relationships with your local community of talent will support your recruiting in numerous ways in the long run. And done well, it costs a fraction of the cost of many other talent sources.
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