An Employer's Guide To Standing Out At Online Recruiting Events

Online events are the new normal. But how do you attract attention in the virtual world? Read our guide for all the best tips and tricks.

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When it comes to online events, COVID-19 might have led the way but a host of non-pandemic benefits have become clear. Online recruiting events are more sustainable, more accessible, and offer new opportunities, from an ability to quickly distinguish between participants to the chance to cut to the chase when discussing new hires.

However, at an online event it’s all important to make yourself as visible as possible. You won’t have any physical presence on the ground at the event, meaning that you’ll have to find new ways to establish your company’s brand and attract the brightest participating talents. Follow our guide to ensure that you don’t miss out on all the exciting new potential a virtual recruiting event offers.

Show your stuff

Whether you’re a massive corporation or an early stage startup, you need to introduce yourself in advance to event participants. Upload a full and comprehensive profile that tells the “story” of your company. This could include not just your basic product, industry, and company aims, but information around your company culture, day-to-day working life, hierarchies, and more. The more information you can give participants the better: try to give them a sense of what working with you is like, from your office arrangements through to your higher levels goals for the year.

At the same time, keep in mind the specific audience of the event. The more curated your content, the more likely you are to attract the talents you want. If it’s a graduate event, spend more time on working life and opportunities for advancement than on high level strategy. If it’s a student event, keep your internship schemes central and give a good overview of the professional learnings waiting at your company. A single company is always many different things to many different employees: make sure that you’re presenting the vision of it most likely to match your audience’s interests.

Finally, while you should always be open to questions from participants, you might also want to anticipate some of those questions in a FAQ section. A FAQ section is a great way to give more information about your company, avoid answering the same questions over and over, and prove that your attention is already on the information and wellbeing of participants.

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Make space for your offers

Whether you’re hosting one session or twenty, meeting one participant or one hundred, it will be easier for both the participants you interact with and your company if you go in with an idea of what you’re looking to find. Missing data scientists? Desperate for a social media star? All of this should be on your agenda for the day, but you need to make sure that participants, too, know what you’re looking for.

As such, it’s a good idea to have an open positions page somewhere linked to the event. Ideally, participants will approach you already wanting to apply for a particular role, which means that your conversation can ‘skip’ a level and even take on the quality of an informal interview.

Again, keep your offer curated. If you have dozens of positions going in your company, consider paring them down to the roles that will work best for the event’s audience. Aim for the experience your audience is likely to have.

Finally, it’s often worth leaving an unspecified open position available. Maybe you’ll meet a talent in a field you haven’t considered yet; maybe someone has spotted a flaw in your team that you haven’t noticed. Sometimes the best teammates introduce themselves, and a participant should be excited to engage with you and feel the opportunity to make a business connection even if they don’t fit the criteria of your current open positions.

Take action quickly

The early bird gets the worm, and the most eager company is often the first to snap up particularly bright new talents. Speed is of the essence and will often give you the edge on other employers at the event.

This means that you should react quickly throughout the event, both in the lead up, on the day (or days), and in its aftermath. Someone on your team should be in charge of handling event communication, meaning that you get back to participants who ask questions as quickly as possible and stay on top of any back-and-forth around potential interview timings.

The event is a rare moment when you’ll be put in touch with talents, so make sure you don’t waste the opportunity to keep in touch with them. Schedule follow-up calls and interviews with participants you’re interested in. Offer a sign-up list for participants who wish to stay involved in your business. Sending out a post-event newsletter is a great way to solidify your spot in participants’ minds. Sending out a personal follow up is even better.

Some of your sessions should be very company-specific. Some might take the form of introductory talks, while others might be workshops. A great session might be one that teaches a skill, like a very basic piece of data science or an introduction to social media analytics.

Know your audience

A lot of your work should happen pre-event. In this particular case, ask your event organizer if there is a chance to look at participant profiles before the event itself. This will help you get an individual sense of the audience beyond your organizer’s event pitch as well as highlighting any interesting talents before the day itself. If possible, you should share and discuss the profiles that interest you with your colleagues and the rest of the team to decide what you’re looking to get from any interaction. Do you simply want to flag your company for their interest? Do you think they might be a potential candidate for a position?

Once you have a shortlist of interesting profiles, consider making contact with them before the event (if the platform allows it). Perhaps you want to schedule a brief meeting with them; perhaps you simply want to draw their attention to your company and the sessions you’re hosting. Whatever the case, getting in touch early is a great way to catch their attention and make them feel as though they have a personal interest in your company already.

Offer a wide selection of sessions

Your sessions will depend to a certain extent on your event organizer and the package you’ve been offered. However, in general, the more sessions you can offer from your company, the better, as long as each session is differentiated and offers its own special hook. There’s no easier way to make your brand impactful at a virtual event than to lead or participate in a number of sessions, where you can hopefully interact with as many participants as possible.

As such, offering a broad variety of sessions is the best way to make sure that you cross as many interest groups as possible. Some of your sessions should be very company-specific. Some might take the form of introductory talks, while others might be workshops. A great session might be one that teaches a skill, like a very basic piece of data science or an introduction to social media analytics. Other important sessions should be Q&A based, to give participants a chance to lead the session into their own specific areas of interest. You might even want to offer a ‘gimmicky’, fun session or two - novelty value can really help you stand out in a crowded industry.

The most important factor with all your sessions - even and especially if you only host one - is that you be completely rehearsed and fast-paced. It’s much easier to lose someone’s attention in an online event, when distractions like Netflix, emails and social media are only a tab away, and so you need to work harder to make your company’s material stand out. Make sure that you’re practiced and that you start exactly on time. Keep your material speedy - people are able to absorb information more quickly virtually than in an offline space.

Fast-paced, interesting and funny: it’s a great combination that means you’ll stay in participants’ minds long past the event.

Ultimately, standing out an online recruiting event is all about combining two separate goals: the ability to reach a lot of people (with lots of communication, multiple sessions, plenty of information about your company, and more) and a targeted approach to personally connect with talented individuals (via knowing your audience, reaching out in advance, and curating your content). Reconciling the two ensures that even behind a laptop screen, you’ll definitely make an impression.

Jason Reich
Co-Founder | TalentSpace

Jason is a co-founder of TalentSpace, where he keeps himself up at night thinking of new and innovative ways to make recruiting an enjoyable and fruitful experience for everyone. He's worked on the international expansion of US-startups, Casper and HotelTonight (acquired by Airbnb), and was also on the Value Creation team of Google Chairman Eric Schmidt's VC, Innovation Endeavors. He graduated from Bocconi University.

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