4 Recruiting Event Ideas to Convert High Value Candidates

Most recruiting event ideas tend to aim for high volumes in the pipeline and great employer branding.

Both are important metrics to watch for, but sometimes, they’re not necessarily the real bottleneck for the talent team, which is why you need to look further down the funnel and focus on conversion.

The personal interactions that happen at recruiting events are impossible to replicate over email or on the phone. Video calls come close, but they still lack the same feeling of flexibility that a candidate gets from choosing when to walk up to someone and when to leave the conversation.

A lot of research has been done to document the differences between face-to-face and electronic communication. From the importance of non-verbal cues to our human instincts to mimic one another, there is a whole range of different layers to face-to-face interactions that you won’t find in a phone call or an email.

Think about the last time you met someone for the first time face to face in a recruiting process: how much more involved did you feel before versus after the meeting?

That is exactly why events can be a powerful tool to convert those strategic leads that you think need more than a casual automated nurture campaign to nudge them into applying or taking an interview. For that reason, the following ideas are meant to be used for conversion, and not for pipeline building.

Recruiting event idea for the early birds: Breakfasts meeting

Breakfast meetings are extremely valuable if you have quite a few leads for a hard-to-fill position, but none that are willing to commit to the application process. Think high-value individual contributors, such as internal consultants, analysts, senior commercial roles, or mid-management roles that require specific technical skill sets.


These are individuals who are less likely to take a lunch meeting, for example, but they will find a 45-minute breakfast stop near their current workplace less of a commitment. Make it clear that you are setting it up because you’re interested in the candidate, but that it’s informational only, and not an interview.

For this meeting, you want to send the hiring manager for the position, or at the very least a peer who will collaborate with the prospective candidate in their new role. The goal is to explain what the position looks like from the perspective of another employee, and to answer questions honestly about challenges and growth prospects. Be sure to brief the manager about this, as they might be tempted to revert to an “interview” conversion flow, when what you want is for them to connect on a personal level.

Meetup with a twist: The invite-only recruiting event idea

Meetups can be highly hit-or-miss because they’re often unstructured and open-ended. Most of the time, they’re presented as an opportunity for networking or learning about the industry. However, you can make them slightly different by inviting only those candidates that you are interested in, and setting up a more intimate conversation setting: a fireside chat or a small Q&A session with an industry leader will be a lot more attractive to your prospects.

Make sure to include hiring managers and prospective peers in the attendees list, and to brief them on who is coming and why they are a target candidate. During the event itself, include breaks and opportunities for your recruiters to facilitate one to one introductions all around.

Coffee break at the trade show

This tactic is best used earlier in the process, when you have a list of great leads, but no direct interactions with them yet. It might also require collaboration with the marketing department to make it economically viable, but the payoff is worth it: Ask the hiring managers for a list of prominent industry or professional trade shows that these candidates are likely to attend, and either set up a drinks giveaway booth or sponsor a coffee station there.

Before the event, email your target candidates that you’d love to offer them a free drink when they attend, and to tell them a bit about professional opportunities with the company. Make sure to cross-check your plans with the marketing or the sales team who will be attending, as there might be some overlap.

The recruiting event for food lovers

This can be anything from a cheese-tasting to a pig roast to a brewery tour. It’s a lot more casual than the first three recruiting event ideas, but it can be just what you need to finally crack the toughest nuts in your pipeline.


The idea here is to sell the people, not the company. You’re betting that those candidates are interested in theory but not sure they want to exchange their current position for an uncertain new environment, so you’re telling them: here are the people you’ll be working with. Get to know them.

For this, target candidates with whom you’ve had some initial meetings, but have so far been reluctant to apply or interview. Pair them up with prospective colleagues or hiring managers, and let them talk about anything BUT work.

The common thread for these recruiting event ideas

Two elements make these types of events particularly effective: they are highly targeted, and supported by current employees.

Some of the events above can only be invite-only, but you might be tempted to make the rest of them open events. Meetups for professionals in scarce industries are not uncommon in big cities, for example, so why not open the doors wider and soo who shows up?

For one, more leads doesn’t mean you’ll get better leads than what is currently in your pipeline. Quite the opposite, it might create more work for your recruiters as they filter and vet these new people.

And secondly, your goal with these events is to create a valuable one-to-one interaction with those few leads who you already feel good about. The number of invited guests can be as low as 15 people for meetup, a panel discussion, or a cocktail hour. As long as you have a few of your employees and recruiters attend as well, you’ll make sure that every one of those leads has received the royal treatment.

Which brings us to the second element: employee activation. None of the events above will serve their purpose if they are attended by recruiters only. These candidates are showing up so they can confirm or discard their hypothesis about your company: will I like the people? Is it the right vibe for me? Are they honest about what it’s like to work there? Only another employee, or the prospective manager, can provide them with those answers.

Some of these ideas can also be used for more general branding purposes or to increase pipeline for many types of role. The formats suggested above, however, take a significant investment in time and resources. They might only make sense for high-impact roles: positions that have a strategic impact on the business but also have been hard to hire for in the past.

Ideally, these events are documented in the background to fit the talent team’s overall recruiting event strategy. If these are sensitive leads and valuable candidates, you want to make sure they’re tagged properly in your system, not spammed by irrelevant content, and not invited to the wrong type of event.

Not to mention, you can only measure the impact of your recruitment events if they are captured in your CRM or your Talent Operating System. If it doesn’t live in a system somewhere, did it even really happen?

Selecting the Right Recruitment Marketing Technology for your Business

According to Aptitude Research, over 70% of enterprise organizations are investing in recruitment marketing capabilities this year.In order to help with this process, Kelly Cartwright, head of Talent Acquisition Technology Strategy at Amazon Web Services, and Madeline Laurano, founder of Aptitude Research, will be discussing some of the latest trends in recruitment marketing and key recommendations for evaluating providers in our next webinar.

[view on-demand webinar here.] [image-caption-end]


Nada Chaker

Content and Campaigns

Nada Chaker leads content and campaigns at Beamery. She writes and reads about the latest news in Talent Acquisition, but also about business strategy, startups, food and indoor plants.

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