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It’s become trendy these days to blame millennials for killing everything from fabric softener to the auto industry (everything except maybe our beloved avocado toast, that is, and thank god for avocado toast!). So have millennials finally killed the job fair too?

No! Recruiting events are not dead, dying or doomed.

While it’s true that digital recruiting efforts are increasingly important to reach the modern candidate—after all, 73 percent of millennials found their last position through a social media site—that doesn’t mean in-person events are obsolete or unwanted. Candidates (yes, even those murderous millennials!) will always crave the opportunity to build a personal connection—it’s human nature. Recruiting events just need to be made enticing again. And, I’d argue that by changing your perspective on recruitment event practices (more on that later), in-person events can actually give you a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting and influencing top talent earlier in their career search.

 

Closing the Perception Gap

So why have hiring events fallen to the bottom of so many recruiters’ hiring tactics, despite the fact that candidates still value them? There are a few reasons for this perception gap that exists between what candidates want and what recruiters think:

  • Attendance: Many recruiters think today’s tech-savvy candidates simply just don’t care to go to events anymore. But given the average person now holds as many as 15 jobs throughout their lifetime, hiring events—especially those aimed at college students and military veterans—can be a tremendously influential first touchpoint. And, in a survey of job-hunting students and recent graduates, over 60% responded that the campus career fair is still very much a part of their search for the perfect employer.
  • ROI: Many organizations find it difficult to track the ROI of these events. Recruiting teams often struggle with siloed tools or spreadsheets to manage event logistics and leads, making it nearly impossible to connect the dots between these events and their impact on the talent pipeline. And when you can’t see what you’re getting out of a large monetary and resource investment, it’s natural to think it’s ineffective.
  • Staffing: Recruiters don’t enjoy them, hiring managers don’t have the time and it’s incredibly difficult to find volunteers to staff these events. Often somebody that doesn’t really even want to be there is responsible for being the face of your brand — self-sabotage when you consider candidates are forming opinions about your company based on these employees’ behavior. Communication internally around recruiting events needs to change. These events elevate your brand presence and offer your team the chance to talk to talent that could change the organization. Make sure you’re sending your best employee advocates.

 

Spice Up Your Recruiting Events

Events can—and depending on your industry and target candidate, should—still be a powerful component of your recruitment strategy, but they could use some polish to give them back their luster. Here are three ways to give talent a recruiting event they can’t refuse:

Integrate Digital to Propel the Event Experience: Are you still relying on clunky manual processes to keep track of who visits you at hiring events? If so, it’s time to drop the clipboards and spreadsheets and find ways to bridge the physical and digital divide. Today’s candidates expect a smooth, efficient application process, and that is true whether they are applying online or in-person. Using technology to integrate events with your other recruiting tactics is critical to delivering the seamless experience recruiters and candidates want.

 

Recruiting Doesn’t End When the Event Does: To maximize the ROI of hiring events, you need to have a clear plan outlined for how you will communicate and develop relationships with candidates before, during and after your events. And, if you’ve integrated the right technology that allows you to more effectively track the candidates that visit you, you now have a wealth of information you can use to follow up. This is a major benefit of utilizing one platform to track events—you can then initiate campaigns in the same system, building on their candidate profile and monitoring every interaction post-event.

Send a personal thank you to candidates that visited you within 24 hours of the event ending. Inviting them to follow you on your social channels is a great way to help them stay connected with your brand and give them a glimpse into your company’s culture as well. These touchpoints can be automated through your CRM or Recruitment Marketing Platform to make sure every single lead is being followed up with and continuing in your brand experience. For your star candidates, take it up a notch with a personal call and an update on next steps in the hiring process. You should also deploy targeted email drip campaigns to candidates after your events to nurture these candidate relationships with the right content and messaging at the right time in the candidate journey.

 

Give Them Something the Website Can’t: What’s the point of somebody going to your recruiting event if they’re just going to be told to “go to the website,” affectionately coined GTW, to learn more or apply? Not only is that not a way to foster a personal connection, but you’re also not offering candidates anything they couldn’t get while sitting at home in their pajamas.

The L.A. Rams and Amazon both recently held hiring fairs during which they conducted interviews and filled positions on the spot. For Amazon’s recruiting events, which they called Amazon Job Days, prospective employees were given a tour around the warehouse, interviewed for the roles available and, if successful, offered a job on the spot. These events were fun, exciting, and gave people a chance to leave that afternoon with an experience they couldn’t just GTW for.

You could also hold an educational workshop or seminar at your recruiting event that would be valuable to the kind of candidate you are looking to recruit. You get a chance to interact more closely with candidates, and they get deeper insights into your company’s culture while also having the chance to participate in a professional development opportunity. Just make sure you arm your event staff with talking points and content that will empower them to deliver a memorable, positive brand experience.

 

In today’s world, people don’t really go to recruiting events to gather information about your company. All that information is at their fingertips so by the time they step foot in your event, they likely already know a lot about your company. Candidates today go to recruiting events to have authentic conversations and build personal relationships. They want to get something different that will help them make sense of the all the options they have and routes they can take.

It’s true that digital rules the world, but there’s simply no replacement for a genuine, human connection: the right conversation or right person can help influence a brand advocate and potential candidate for life.

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