For 44% of marketers, events register a 3 to 1 return on investment, making this one of the most effective channels at their disposal.
Recruitment events could present a similar opportunity for talent teams, but they have to be planned, executed, and measured effectively to deliver that result.
Step 1: Developing the recruitment events strategy
The success of recruitment events as a talent acquisition channel comes in large part from their integration with the larger talent strategy. For enterprise talent teams especially, it is very easy to fall into silos, with different teams working on different channels and not coordinating their activities to create a single continuous journey for candidates.
A good way to diagnose the state of things before launching a yearly calendar of events is to have a cross-workstreams meeting and answer the following questions as a group:
- What are the overall talent acquisition goals does for the following planning period? And within those, what goals can the Events team own?
- What goals does the Event strategy hope to achieve? These could be anything from the following options: Establish the employer brand by setting a tone for the event communications, the theme, the activities, and the collateral Engage with candidate who already exist on the employer’s pipeline in a forum that caters to their specific industry, interests, or affinity group Source new candidates who are actively looking to build relationships with recruiters, for example at campus recruiting events, meetups
- What types of events can the team host, given the time and resources available, and what can these events achieve?
- What other recruiting activities will come before or after that event, and how should they align? Who are the stakeholders in these different activities?
As usual, being specific with the answers is necessary. Even if it’s too early for the teams to commit to any dates or budgets, it’s always a good idea to give at least a tentative plan or a ballpark and refine it later in the year.
The expected result at this first stage is to finalize the following two items:
- The objectives of the recruitment events strategy for the coming period. This can be to create a target number of new leads, to improve the Talent Promoter Score, to positively impact the employer brand, or simply to increase awareness with target groups or populations, such as an underrepresented community or a specific professional population.
- The resources available to implement this strategy, as well as the constraints placed on it, such as team members, external support, budget...etc.
Step 2: defining the right types of events for your company
Different types of events can achieve a range of different outcomes, and it’s worth doing a quick run-through of the team’s options before settling on any plan:
- Campus events, job fairs, or company briefings where you invite an audience, either students or another community, to a talk about your company
- Networking events, either on site at the company or in venues of your choice. These could be co-hosted with other companies, or done via meetups
- Sponsored events where you may not be the main organizer, but where you associate your employer brand with a cause, a community, or a set of values
- Educational events such as workshops, classes, or competitions
- Other events such as drinks or VIP dinners after industry conferences
Note that sponsored events might be more appropriate if the event organizer has an agenda that has a low risks of badly reflecting on the employers’ brand, such as diversity events, or campus events. When choosing who to sponsor, it’s a good idea to invest some time in meeting with the organizers and reviewing their plan. Pick an event with a track record of success, or one that is led by a highly organized team with a detailed plan and good credentials.
Step 3 : Setting up the team for easy planning and collaboration
Enterprise talent teams have the advantage of scale and resources over their smaller competitors, but they also lose agility and speed in their ability to go from planning to execution.
If you have a larger team, you have more resources at your disposal, but you might waste a significant chuck of them in miscommunications and lack of effective collaboration. There are fortunately steps that a team can take to facilitate communication and collaboration down the line.
It also helps to have a common talent team “calendar” that details the big events or cycles in the works for talent acquisition’s team. It’s the kind of small things can can help everyone keep the wider plan in mind, and results in a candidate journey that is coherent and aligned overall.
Step 4: Executing on the recruitment event plans
People’s impression of an event can be influenced by the smallest things, from the sign up and check-in experience to the lighting in the room where they have their networking chats.
There is no highly-guarded secret to a delightful recruitment event experience; it’s really all about careful, extensive, painstakingly detailed planning. Everything has to be thought through and looked at from the attendee’s experience.
Some of these details are good practices that apply to all types of events. For example, you have to visit the event venue in advance whenever possible, and request images and floor plan when not. Make sure it has all the amenities needed for your event, including kitchen appliances if needed, wifi, power plugs at convenient locations, presentation equipment if relevant, not to mention parking spaces or convenient public transport access.
Some bits are more specific to recruitment events, such as ordering the appropriate amount of swag and collateral for your guest list, and making arrangements for any welcome packs or goodie bags you plan on giving away.
The recruitment event organizers also have to make decisions around refreshments based on the schedule and the resources pegged for the event, have a contingency plan in case the venue booking is cancelled, or the original plan has to change due to circumstances outside of your control. This could be anything from a speaker cancelling to food not being delivered to presentation equipment breaking.
Now for the event day itself. You need to make sure you have everything in place, and people owning each of the following aspects of the big day:
- Event sign up and welcoming station, ensuring the candidates arriving into the venue flow in smoothly. It’s critical to make sure that the welcome desk is not a bottleneck, and lets people flow in in an organized manner. No one wants to be scrambling over a crowd to find their name tag.
- Collateral to inform candidates about the company and about the event specifically, from a simple mission statement and contact info for a casual meetup, to a full event schedule and short speaker bios for a company briefing.
- Clear instructions for all event organizers and participants, especially if you have invited employees to meet and mingle with the candidates or to make presentations. How should they communicate and mingle? What is their individual role at every time of the event?
- Event point person, or “clipboard person”, to be the central point of communication during the event. This person can provide last-minute information, make on-the-ground decisions about emergencies, and make sure all goes according to plan.
Step 5: Following up on the event
This includes both following up with event participants and measuring the impact of the event.
The event follow-up should include a personalized follow up workflow targeted at both the attendees and the no-shows, with some sort of call to action to candidates: A “thank you” message and invitation to share the event with friends, a satisfaction survey to determine what they liked about the event and what needs improvement, or a link to job openings relevant to their profile.
Any pictures, videos, or takeaways from the event can also be shared on social media and with the company’s talent community to keep the momentum going and raise awareness. This additional conversation is not only an opportunity to stay top-of-mind for the invitees, it is also additional promotion for new leads in the pipeline.
Recruitment events metrics
Different events have different goals, and it’s necessary to identify those at the planning stage, so that the team can set up the appropriate infrastructure to measure against those goals. Here are the most common of these metrics:
- Attendance rate, which is the ratio of attendees to RSVPs or to invitees
- Conversion rates, as one of the most valuable impacts of the event is converting candidates to applicants
- Time to apply or time to hire, specifically whether event attendees apply or accept offers faster
- Event cost, and related metrics such as cost per attendee or cost per influenced applicant
- Engagement, which can be measured by mentions, reshares, comments and likes on social media for the event • Traffic to the event landing page, click-through rates in email campaigns or ad campaigns, and other digital marketing metrics
Take stock of the event’s performance, either in your internal dashboard, or by manually gathering and computing performance metrics if your event management system doesn’t allow for reporting.
Debrief with the team on what went well and what didn’t, based on the metrics above, but also on the event execution itself. Without debriefs, there is little opportunity to formalize what your team learns from every new event.
Updating external stakeholders is also helpful at this stage. Hiring managers, participating employees, or leadership executives, for instance, will want to know how the recruitment event went and what impact it will have on the talent team’s goals. Sharing this information will also make it easier to enlist their help for the next events.
Recruitment events attribution models
The tricky part about calculating ROI is that no recruitment marketing activity is ever single-handedly responsible for a single outcome. If an event participant applies to a role, it is probably in part because they attended the event, and in part because other factors came into play.
This is why some teams build attribution models. An “attribution model” is a framework used in marketing and sales to determine how much each touchpoint with a customer contributes to making a sale. For recruiting, these touchpoints would be the different steps in your candidate journey.
There are different types of attribution models. A “First touch” model says that the first touch point in a candidate journey is wholly responsible for that candidate being hired. Therefore, you’d calculate the ROI in that model using the following formula:
Event ROI = Sum of value of candidates closed where the first touchpoint was the event - Cost of Event / Cost of Event
A “Last-touch” model works on the opposite assumption: basically, it assumes that the last touchpoint was the most influential in the decision made by the candidate.
You can build a more sophisticated “Multi-touch” attribution model if you want to give different weights to different steps in the candidate journey; Segment has a great intro to multi-touch attribution here.
Recruiting Events - The Complete Playbook
Talent teams of every size can find value in this ebook, but it is especially targeted targeted at sophisticated teams who want to leverage the technology and candidate data at their disposal to create highly effective event programs. It contains an exploration of the different types of events and how to best use them, checklists for event set up, project management tips, collaboration, event follow-up, not to mention metrics and best practices for measurement.