Like many companies, health insurer Florida Blue, a Guidewell Company, relies heavily on events to connect with candidates and turn them into potential employees. But in-person career fairs and hiring events are impossible right now. How are they adapting their recruitment strategy to meet the increased demand for member care specialists?
By spotlighting a series of virtual events on their career site, Guidewell has been able to increase their reach and boost applies. During a recent webinar, Susan Senn, Enterprise Talent Engagement Manager at Guidewell, shared the necessary steps—along with top tips—to create effective virtual recruiting events that get positions filled faster.
1. Choosing the Right Type of Event
Recruiting leaders should decide what type of event is best suited for their organization. Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution, most companies may want to try a few different events to see what sticks.
Let’s take a look at the most popular types of virtual events today:
Ask Me Anything
This popular type of online event—also known as an AMA—is a great way to promote a general Q&A-style format. You can set up this AMA event so job seekers can “ask anything” to a recruiter, hiring manager, or even a select group of employees. Since it doesn’t require a lot of prep work in advance, it’s an easy way to engage candidates, showcase your corporate culture, and drive interest in your organization.
Recruiters can elect to make this event less serious and bring humor into the event by asking questions unrelated to the workplace. If you go this route, the event becomes more like a game show instead of a series virtual event. But as long as your moderator plans ahead and can get the audience back on track, an AMA could be right for your organization.
Panel or Roundtable
Recruiting for a niche skill set? Consider hosting panel or roundtable events, which tend to be more suitable for smaller groups of candidates and conversation. A tech company that might be hiring for an Artificial Intelligence and Data Scientist, for example, might draw a smaller audience. Preparing a roundtable discussion with your current data science team will likely attract like-minded individuals to join.
When hosting a panel discussion, be sure to prepare in advance. In addition to having the right technology, you should have a good understanding of its features to ensure it runs smoothly. Capabilities such as “mute all” and “listen only” might be valuable to your team when hosting a group discussion. Assign and train a moderator to guide participants throughout the panel.
Virtual Career Fair or University Recruiting Event
A virtual career fair or university recruiting event is the largest and most common type of virtual event, and will require the most effort and planning. The virtual career fair historically attracts more candidates due to unlimited capacity (provided you have the right technology platform at your disposal). It’s also more convenient for both the job seeker and recruiter. In some cases, candidates will have the ability to upload resumes and/or search through employer booths.
When shifting to an online career fair, be sure to keep as many things the same as possible to help candidates feel at ease. Additionally, planning a virtual career fair requires the right technology, and more importantly, lots of creativity.
2. Setting Up the Event
Once you've chosen the right event for your recruiting goals, it's time to work through the logistics.
Choose event organizers, presenters, and trouble-shooters.
It’s important to choose the right people to lead, present, and manage the event. Part of the decision depends on what type of event you plan to put on. The larger the event, the more people you’ll need to carry it off without a hitch. Decide which recruiters, hiring managers and employees should be part of the event and in what capacity.
Senn, who is a firm believer that “practice makes perfect”, spent weeks creating different scenarios internally to simulate how her team could adjust on the spot, if necessary. Make sure moderators, presenters, and troubleshooters conduct at least a few dry-runs ahead of time.
Choose a technology platform that works best for your event.
Keep in mind that two-way communication is necessary to run virtual events, whether that be video conferencing, chat, and Q&A. Consider technology that is interactive, such as Zoom, ON24, and WebEx. Most virtual events should have live video, whether everyone is on video or only the presenters. The ability to see everyone’s faces goes a long way in strengthening your ability to connect virtually. Be sure to test your technology to ensure visuals, audio, and online features meet expectations.
Make it easy to sign up.
Nothing is more frustrating to candidates than filling out countless amounts of information, says Senn. Registration should be easy, so keep it simple. Create a website for registration that makes the sign-up process seamless while collecting RSVPs and user profiles that you can interact with after the event. This data can be used later for job seeker leads and also to improve your next event.
3. Promoting the Event
As soon as your recruiting event is created, it's time to start spreading the word. Here are a few suggestions on how to raise awareness and attract the right attendees.
Use your career site.
Your career site is the perfect place to showcase and promote upcoming hiring events. In addition to spotlighting relevant timing information, highlight presenters and key topics as a way to attract candidates. Guidewell is using the events section of their career site to spotlight a series of virtual career fairs to hire in-demand positions at the company.
Visitors can immediately put a face to the name of the event organizer, utilize a user-friendly countdown, and add the event to their calendar. Job seekers who don’t want to wait for the event to apply, can view and apply to the job via a link right on the page. The ability to quickly duplicate events to accommodate increased candidate demand is instrumental to virtual event efficiency.
Also consider using branded banner ads and corporate assets including blog posts and video content to drive traffic to events pages for maximum exposure.
Leverage social media.
Creating social hype is another great way to get your audience engaged before and during the event. Senn recommends posting on popular social media channels like LinkedIn and Twitter. Don’t forget to create and use hashtags, and share information about why someone will want to attend the event. Highlighting speakers and panel topics is also highly effective.
4. Communicating Leading up to the Event
Staying connected with your event registrants is important to encourage attendance. It also helps set expectations for your candidates and creates a smooth experience.
Setting clear expectations with candidates is crucial to deliver a good virtual experience, says Senn—who emphasizes the importance of transparency, especially now. “This is all new,” she notes, and it takes time for people to get comfortable with the technology and processes around virtual hiring.
Guidewell makes it a point to inform candidates that their virtual events are not assessments in any way, she says. Rather, they are simply a way to learn about the company and open roles, share information, and answer questions.
Senn also recommends letting people know what technology platform you will be using well in advance—and include any system requirements. After registration, you can also prepare them with a list of tips and tricks in case this is their first virtual hiring event. Remember that this is also an opportunity for relationship building.
Senn points out the importance of over-communicating pre-event details since candidates may register in advance without paying attention to logistics and meeting links. She recommends embedding the link in all communications leading up to the event and suggests a cadence of reminders 2 weeks, 1 week, the night before, and the morning of the event.
Use video and text messaging.
Instead of weighing your message down with text-heavy copy, keep it simple and use an enticing visual or video when possible. And if you have SMS capabilities, send texts in addition to emails to candidates. It’s easy for original confirmation codes to get buried in crowded inboxes—and most people check their phones more frequently.
5. Creating an Engaging Event
To help your organization stand out, consider how you can create a memorable event that gets people motivated to work for you.
Elevate your employer brand.
There are many opportunities to highlight your employer brand when hosting a virtual event. In all communication to attendees, be sure to keep your brand front and center with consistent messaging and tone. During the event, consider using a branded virtual background, presentation slides, and takeaway items with your company's logo.
To infuse your event with as much company culture as possible, consider featuring a video that greets attendees at the start. Showcase what makes your company special—and why they’d want to work there, complete with employee testimonials and success stories from previous events. If your office is currently closed, make sure the video shows the office space and what awaits them when on-site work resumes. This is a great opportunity to leverage your marketing team to elevate the quality and impact of deliverables.
Encourage audience engagement.
The best events—in-person or virtual—get people engaging with one another. Before the event, Senn offers this advice: make sure candidates know whether there will be a chat feature available to make comments and ask questions—and provide instructions on how to use it.
During the event, designate a team member to help manage participants and promote interaction with quick polls, or timely commentary that invites idea sharing. Guidewell also opens up their phone lines at the end of events in case candidates prefer that method of communication.
Senn also points out that some platforms offer the opportunity for hosts to assign guests to breakout rooms for more intimate discussions. Consider whether your event could benefit from this capability and whether your team can handle the logistics without sacrificing a seamless candidate experience, she advises.
6. Handling Post-Event Activities
Communication with job seekers after your recruiting event is key to solidifying a great experience. This is the time to nurture best-fit candidates for open roles within your company.
Follow up after the event.
Remember that the experience isn’t over after the event. Thank attendees for participating and make sure they know who to contact with follow-up questions. Include a link to easily apply for open positions in your message to keep opportunities top of mind. Don’t forget to reach out to registrants who didn’t attend—let them know they were missed and provide the dates of upcoming events that link directly to registration or the events section of your career site.
You can also repurpose content from the event and use it in drip campaigns to keep the conversation going. Pull out key takeaways or feature a short video highlighting the best moments that will resonate with candidates.
Track success with data and analytics.
Being able to see how your event performed is important so you can make adjustments where necessary. Robust analytics can help you dig deep and evaluate the entire funnel to see who you’re reaching and whether you’re gaining a new audience. An important measure is comparing the number of registrations to the number of attendees. Then, look at how many applications were completed. True ROI comes from applications, not attendance.
Keep in mind it’s not just the type of event that matters—timing is another key element. Analytics can give insight into the best day of the week and time to schedule virtual events. If you’re trying to reach people in different time zones, pick a time that’s likely to work for everyone. Or consider offering separate events to better accommodate people across different coasts or countries. Experiment with a happy hour or evening event to see if that works better for candidates with busy core-hour schedules.
One of the biggest takeaways Senn drives home to TA professionals is that the benefits of a virtual event can extend far beyond the actual event. Even if a candidate doesn’t apply for the job—or it’s later determined they’re not the right fit—the event is a gateway to building and fostering a relationship with job seekers who may be a fit further down the road. That’s a top focus for Guidewell, Senn says.
Remember, the goal is to get attendees excited to work at your company—creating an informative and interactive event can be a really powerful way to do so.
Ready to learn more about conducting successful recruiting events?
Be sure to watch our webinar with Guidewell to see how they're using events to attract more candidates than ever!