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Recruiting Wisdom

6 Recruiting Event Ideas That Create a Lasting Impression

min read

The job market is tight. When candidates enter the job market, they have many options. Recruiters are frequently contacting candidates, constantly inviting them to free events and bombarding them with catchy emails. As a result, it can be a challenge to separate your company from the next. 

The key to differentiation is to create unique experiences that leave a lasting impression on candidates. Although it’s nice, unique doesn't mean craft microbrews and fancy food. It’s not about the freebie giveaways and swag.

Your company’s memorable experience will be one that aligns with your mission and values and gives a sneak peek into your company’s culture. A successful recruitment event leaves the candidate feeling intrigued by what goes on behind closed doors. 

When planning your next recruiting event, consider these out of the box ideas:

1. Teach Candidates Something

These days it’s all about give and take. Posting on social media that your company is opening up their doors for free food and drinks may bring in a crowd, but it is less likely to bring in a crowd that is serious about career growth. 

Think through which job openings are the highest priority and build a learning session relevant to the ideal candidate pool and open to the public. For example, if you are in dire need of UX Designers in order to meet the deliverables on next year’s product roadmap, host a local UX MeetUp group or common interest group and have a guest speaker give a presentation on a UX relevant topic like “10 Things You Need to Know When Building Personas”.

This is an excellent way to attract UX Designers who are taking charge of their careers by going out and bettering their skills. Taking this approach is a long game because not all attendees are actively on the market, but don’t let that discourage you. This type of event will more likely expose you to the right talent, build lasting relationships, and imprint a positive sentiment for when those individuals become active on the job market.

People gathered together at a recruiting event meetup listening to the teacher
Show what your company is all about through a fun, interactive lesson that engages everyone.

2. Host a Hackathon

Calling all software engineers! By definition, a hackathon is an event, typically lasting several days, in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming. There is no better way to discreetly test the skills of a software engineer than to see them in action.

Community hackathons are an innovative way to engage with the technical community and spur on fun, friendly competition. Make it thrilling. Include food, drinks, swag, prizes and elements of recognition for the winners. Set up different competition categories from which the contestants can choose. Keep the Hackathon parameters simple and loose as to not scare people off with complexity.

Encourage people of all professions to participate in the hackathon vs. solely software engineers. If you’d like, you can open up the Hackathon to other functions outside of software engineering so that teams can present more robust solutions at the conclusion of the event. 

After all, tech companies need sales, marketing, product, design and other departments to fully function. Everyone brings something to the table.

A hackathon group working together at a recruiting event
Hackathons give great insight on how your potential hires might work together.

During the event, have your hiring team closely pay attention to the contestants and their interactions. Once the event comes to an end, reach out to everyone to stay in touch. Invite those who peeked your team’s interest in for an informational on the company or even for a formal interview.

Those who didn't pass the bar can be kept in touch with for future events and networking. This bucket of contestants may not be a fit now but are already engaged with your company’s brand. Leverage that interest for future opportunities.

3. Piggyback on a Major Event in Town

If you’re based in Austin, Texas like we are, the perfect event to piggyback on top of is SXSW Interactive. SXSW naturally draws in a large out of town crowd and most of those folks will be looking for something “fun” to do.

If your company has a cool office, set it up as a tech hot spot for conference goers to come recharge, relax, re-boot in a lounge setting or crank it up a notch and host a happy hour in your sleek space providing tours for people to drool over. This tactic is also a long tail approach as many attendees may be from out of town.

However, some use events like SXSW to explore a city to which they are interested in moving. Ultimately, these types of events give you a chance to show off your space and continue to build your employer brand in the local community.

4. Get Out in the Community

If your company centers its values around community service and volunteering, having a “Bring-a-friend to Volunteer Day” is a unique idea. Partner with a local non-profit that would welcome your company for a volunteer day, and then encourage and incentivize your current employees to bring along a friend.

For example, for every friend an employee brings they get a raffle ticket which would go into a drawing for a prize or a donation to a charity of their choice. Meanwhile, at the volunteer event, the recruiting team can work their way around the guest volunteers and build relationships.

2 volunteers planting greenery
Community service is a great time to discover different sides of everyone that you wouldn't normally see in an interview.

5. Speed Interviewing and Resume Review Workshops

Getting onto the job market can be a daunting task. Writing resumes can be stressful and interviewing is nerve racking. A flaw in the traditional recruiting (where the workflow is resume review, interview, then offer) is if you don’t have a perfectly written resume, you can forget about getting to the next stage.

By the same token, it’s pretty common to have a beautifully written resume not hold up to its word. If you are interviewing a copy editor or professional writer, judging their resume writing skills makes total sense but if superior writing skills is not a core competency why do most companies judge their writing skills at the top of the funnel?

Hosting an event where your recruiting team and representatives from your company can offer job readiness guidance will make a lasting impression on the candidates. During the event, have your team take time to get to know the job seekers on a conversational level.

You will be surprised to learn you may meet viable candidates you never would have met if you initially judged them solely on their resume. This is especially valuable for companies that hire in batches like:

6. Get Intimate

Large networking events are great for extroverts, but what about everyone else? For some, the idea of talking to dozens of strangers in one night is their worst nightmare. To be inclusive of all personality types during your hiring process, strategize what types of events draw in our introverted friends.

Small dinners with a targeted group of candidates complimented with a healthy mix of your recruiting team serves as a comfortable environment for the traditionally shy. Book a private room at a trendy restaurant in town and have your team reach out to a small handful of highly desired candidates and personally invite them to the dinner.

During the dinner, assign your team to certain candidates and make it a goal to leave no one unattended and alone. Once someone finds themselves alone and uncomfortable, you run the risk of getting an “irish goodbye”. This is not the place to hard sell or pressure the candidates, but rather make it a goal to build trusting relationships with the candidates.

2 men talking at a dinner interview recruiting event
Dinner interviews help even the most introverted candidates feel more comfortable.

Final Thoughts

Since the goal of recruiting events is to network and establish relationships with candidates, making your events unique and memorable will boost the chances of making a lasting impression. Weave your company’s mission and values into the events and partner with marketing to sign off that every event aligns to your company’s brand.

If one of your company’s values is “Be Yourself”, make it a priority for all events to be diverse and inclusive while celebrating individuality. Talk about the values and mission during your events. People are drawn towards companies that are purpose driven and on a forward path.

Although events are a great way to meet candidates who are ready to join your company tomorrow, they also present an important employer branding opportunity. The relationships you build at events will serve your company well when your event attendees speak highly of you and your team to their friends.

Christina Wells

Christina has over 15 years of experience in the recruiting industry and works as an advisor to Flo Recruit.

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