A Timeline and Tips for Your Next Recruitment Event

March 28, 2019
Updated: May 8, 2019
Written by Bailey Reiners

 Planning a recruitment event is no easy feat. To host a successful event, you need to be exceptionally organized, punctual and have a keen ability to see both the big picture and the minute details that will leave your attendees dazzled.

Lucky for us, we have a team of event planning aficionados on staff. Collectively, they've planned hundreds of events and hosted tens of thousands of candidates, so they know their stuff. We tapped into their highly-experienced brains to share their wealth of knowledge with anyone interested in executing an unforgettable recruitment event. 

How To Plan A Recruitment Event

Recruitment Event Tips

Recruitment Marketing for Events

 

How To Plan A Recruitment Event

Your company size and hiring needs will have a major impact on how you plan a recruitment event. To accommodate the wide range of needs and variations for different events, we’ve created a general guide for you to adjust to your company’s specific needs and goals.

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12 Months Before the Event: Plan a Recruitment Event Series

If you intend on hosting a series of recruiting events throughout the year, you should start securing venues and begin planning a full year out. Especially if you’re hosting events at popular locations in a large city, you’ll want to secure your venues long before they book up.

In order to determine the right venues, you’ll need to first determine your goals, budget, target audience and the number of attendees you both want to attend and account for how many you predict will actually show up.

 

6 Months Before the Event: Book the Venue & Set Goals

If you’re only planning on hosting a single recruitment event, it’s best to start planning about six months out. At this point you’ll want to determine the high level logistics of the event, including:

  • Who are your target candidate personas for this event.
  • Are you going to partner with other companies or run this event solo.
  • What is the topic or idea that will guide the event.
  • Where will you hold the event, in your office or at a local venue — consider the vibe of attendees and the location.
  • Why are you holding an event. Do you need to fill certain roles, boost employer branding or build out your talent pipeline.

Attendee Engagement Strategy: Consider adding some special elements in decor or with product demos and activities. You can never go wrong with freebees, prizes and giveaways, which can be a big proponent for getting people in the door.

Pro Tip: If this is your first event, you may want to consider hosting a networking event at a third-party venue. Hosting your own event requires some degree of knowledge around permitting, licenses and building policies that can quickly get in the way of your project timeline. It may feel unnecessary to outsource the venue and catering, but having some help with the first few events can save serious time and money in the long run until you have a better understanding of how and where to host an event on your own.

 

5 Months Before the Event: Create a Project Timeline

Once you have the venue booked and your goals set, you’ll want to create a project timeline  and a checklist of who needs to complete what to ensure the event runs smoothly.

Consider any additional services to make the event extra memorable and book those. Five months prior to the event, start sourcing speakers, performers or any talent you’d like to have at the event.

Additionally, consider how you plan to document the event (and promote future events). You may need to hire a photographer, videographer or someone to live stream on social media during the event.

 

3 Months Before the Event: Launch Recruitment Marketing Campaigns

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We’ll get a bit more in-depth with best practices later in this article, but we wanted to incorporate recruitment marketing in the planning stages. In general, you’ll want to prepare for three big recruitment marketing pushes.

  1. Dedicated Mailing List: Dive into your dedicated mailing list and identify which users:
    1. Indicated they want to hear about events.
    2. Attended prior events.
    3. Consistently open your emails.
  2. Newsletter: If you already have a regular newsletter, start incorporating information about your event in the newsletter.
  3. Social Media Promotion: Start posting tidbits about the event on social media to get people excited and marking their calendars. Always provide links for people to RSVP so you have a better idea of who will attend.

Pro Tip: Above everything, you want to attract quality attendees over quantity, so make sure you’re targeting and filtering candidates throughout the recruitment marketing process to ensure your event is a success for attendees as well as your recruiting efforts.

 

1.5 Months Before the Event: Send Invites. Follow Up. Repeat.

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About six weeks out, you’ll want to start sending invites. Keep in mind that the size of your event will also dictate how you promote it.

Small Event: 10-50 Attendees

  • Invite Only: If you’re looking at having a relatively small event, you’ll want to keep it intimate and by invitation only so that you have more control over who attends.
  • Six Weeks Before Event: Send your first round of invites six weeks out and send a follow up email the next week. Repeat this process twice more until the event starts. This will help you better predict who will be attending based on who opens the emails and RSVPs.

Larger Event: 100+ Attendees

  • Public Event: For a larger job fair or networking event, you’ll probably want to keep it open to the public, unless you have a massive following and consistently have low drop off rates for people who RSVP.
  • Emails: Similar to small events, you’ll want to send your first round of invites six weeks out followed by a follow up email the next week and repeat over the next four weeks — invite one week, follow up the next week.
  • Social Media: Share news about your event on social media about four to six weeks out. If your RSVP numbers are low as you get closer to the event, consider paid social promotion to supplement your marketing efforts.

General

  • Equipment: Make sure all of your essential equipment (AV, Microphones, etc.) is working and ready to go.
  • Volunteers: Start collecting volunteers from your organization to help run the event and provide them with information on what to expect. A good rule of thumb is to have a 1:10 volunteer to attendee ratio. Remember, it’s always better to have too many volunteers that you can send home than to be understaffed.
  • Business Cards & Name Tags: Make sure all of your team members have professional business cards to hand out at the event and name tags for attendees. Here are a few tips on preparing name tags.
  • Free vs Cover Fee: While cover fees can limit your attendees, it can also hold people more accountable for actually showing up. Sometimes as little as a $5 cover fee can improve drop off rates.
  • Promo Code: Consider having a promo code for candidates in your pipeline that you want to attend by providing them with complimentary entry.

 

1 Month Before the Event: Finalize the Details

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  • RSVP Count: Let the venue know about how many attendees you anticipate will arrive for the event.
  • Drop Off Rate: Keep in mind that drop off rates can average between 25-50%, and if you’re unlucky enough to have poor weather on your event evening, it may be higher. If you have hosted events in the past, you can use historical data to predict turnout.
  • Floor Plan Seating Chart: Whether you’re working with a venue or out of your office, figure out your floor plans and measurements so that whoever is designing the event can organize the space by the number of attendees and planned activities. 
  • Order Food & Beverages: Work with your venue or caterer to determine food and beverage packages that will draw in attendees and leave them satisfied. Nobody wants a hangry after-work attendee at their event...nobody.
  • Organize Food & Beverage Equipment: If you have hot food, you’ll need food warming equipment, and cold food will likely require refrigeration. And, of course, you’ll need to provide proper waste disposal and recycling bins. The venue or caterer may have this all figured out, but it doesn’t hurt to double check.
  • Consider Ticketing & Registration: The first impression is made at ticketing and registration, and if you aren’t well prepared on the day of the event, attendees may leave before they even enter the venue. Whether it’s digital or simply with pen and paper, make sure you have a system worked out and volunteers prepared for the task. Also, decide whether or not you will allow walk ups.

 

 

48 Hours Before the Event: Remind RSVPs

About 48 to 72 hours before the event, you should send one final email with all of the critical event information. Provide attendees with clear directions on different ways to get to the event. Help them come prepared with a list of items to bring, such as resumes, cover letters or documentation.

Also, think about the information that will ease the nerves and stress of candidates, such as what they should wear, and what they can expect at the event. Every recruitment event is different, and candidates may not know the difference between what to do at a networking event versus job fair, so be kind and clear up any uncertainties or misconceptions they may have going into your specific event.

 

Day of Event: In Office

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3 Hours Before the Event Starts

  • Set up sound and electrical systems.
  • Catering should arrive and set up food.
  • Organize floor plan and scheduled activities.

1.5 Hours Before the Event Starts

  • Everything should be set up at this point.
  • Have a team huddle and assign jobs.
  • Set up registration table (ticketing, name tags, hand outs, etc.).

45 Minutes Before the Event Starts

  • Support staff will likely already be in the office, but now is a good time for them to help set up and prepare for their role. Everyone should be tasked with clearing trash off of tables and checking waste bins for emptying.

Event Starts

  • Have a brief five minute introduction with welcoming remarks.
  • Inform people about break out sessions and activities and provide a bit of guidance for attendees to get the most out of the event.

Event Ends

  • Getting people out of the office can be challenging, but you can provide subtle, polite cues, such as cleaning up and putting away equipment.

 

Day of Event: Third-Party Venue 

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3 Hours Before the Event Starts

  • The venue should have an events coordinator who is setting everything up around this time, if not earlier. They should handle the floor plan, electrical equipment, etc.
  • If you have any extra decorations or last minute additions, come a bit early to set up anything the events coordinator wouldn’t do otherwise.

1.5 Hours Before the Event Starts

  • Your events team should arrive 1.5 hours before the event starts so you can make sure everything is going smoothly on the venue's side and you’re there to answer any last minute questions.

45 Minutes Before the Event Starts

  • Have volunteer and support staff arrive around 45 minutes before the event starts to help set up and prepare for their role. Everyone should be tasked with clearing trash off of tables and checking waste bins for emptying.

Event Starts

  • Have a brief five minute introduction with welcoming remarks.
  • Inform people about break out sessions and activities and provide a bit of guidance for attendees to get the most out of the event.

Event Ends

  • Getting people out of the office can be challenging, but you can provide subtle, polite cues, such as cleaning up and putting away equipment.
  • If you’re serving alcohol, have an official ‘last call’ 15-30 minutes before the event ends.

 

After the Event: Following Up

Be sure to send a follow up email thanking candidates for attending and, depending on the purpose of the event, letting them know what to do next (how to apply, how to learn more, etc.). It's also a good idea to send an email to those who missed the event with a recap and information they may still want. Just because they couldn't make it doesn't mean you don't want to get to know them.

If any of your team members handed out business cards or talked with specific candidates, make sure to follow up with personalized emails to get them into your talent pipeline. And if they indicated a specific role they are interested in, make sure someone from that department reaches out to the prospect.

There are plenty of email platforms available for free or at a cheap price that can help you streamline your efforts. Eventbrite actually has a customized form so that candidates can opt-in to be contacted, and you can schedule an email to be sent out automatically after the event.

 

Recruitment Event Tips

Alright, now that you know the timeline leading up to your event, let's check out some tips on how to take our event to the next level. 

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Time & Duration

Especially for passive candidates who are currently employed, hosting an event after typical work hours will ensure they’re able to attend without having to miss work. You’ll also want to consider how long it will take people to commute to your event, which is also something to consider when choosing a venue.

If you're in a location with great public transportation, you could start the even as early as 5:30 pm, but if your city requires people to drive, consider starting closer to 6:30 pm.

As for duration, two hours is a good amount of time to keep attendees' attention and not over exhaust people after their eight-hour work day.

 

Size

The budget and goals you set in the initial planning stages six months out will help you determine how many people you need to have at the event for it to be successful.

For example, if you are primarily focused on employer branding, it may make sense to have a larger, more open event to get people in the door regardless of their background or experience. However, if you’re looking to hire for very specific roles, you may want to have a smaller event where recruiters will have time to really get to know candidates on a personal level.

No matter your event goals, something to keep in mind is talent pipelining. No matter who you’re engaging with, they could be a potential hire in the future, so it’s important to have the resources available to get them into your pipeline and engaged with your brand.

 

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Location

Again, your goals, budget and size will strongly influence where you hold your event. Ideally, you’ll want to hold the event in a location that’s central to your target audience. If you’re looking to hire young professionals, consider booking a trendy bar in a hip neighborhood. If you’re looking to hire senior corporate professionals, a snazzy restaurant may be more appropriate.

Size will help you determine if you can even fit all of the people in your office or if your office is too big for a more intimate event. If not your office, what spaces are available for the size, budget and vibe in locations that are convenient to get to for your target audience?

 

Bag & Coat Check

People will be coming directly from work and may have their work bags or gym bags that are cumbersome to navigate through an event with, not to mention awkward. It can also get hot and humid in a room full of people, so save the sweat and offer a coat check.

No matter the time of year or climate of your city, you have no control over how the weather will pan out the day of an event, and attendees may come with wet coats and umbrellas.

 

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Formalities

You’ve been focusing so much on your company’s performance at the event, you almost threw out the candidate with the bathwater!

Talk with your team to determine what they expect from attendees. Do you want them to bring resumes? Should they dress formal or casual? Save everyone those awkward moments and help candidates prepare for the event with information about open roles and company profile(s).

When you send a final reminder email a day or two before the event, include all of the information candidates need to be successful at the event.

 

Food & Beverage

Always, always have food at your event. People love food (especially free food), so this is not the place to cut costs. Think about your own past experiences: we’ve all been to an event with a bunch of strangers where the only topic for small talk was about the food and venue. Do not let bad food choices be the common denominator of what people are talking about at the event.

 

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Staff Attendance

In addition to having support staff, you may want to have staff from each hiring department present at the event to provide further information on the specific roles they are hiring for. They may also want to have a brief presentation or information available that’s more specific for qualified candidates.

It’s also important that attendees can identify your staff in the sea of people, so make sure your team is distinguished with team t-shirts or some kind of badge or ID.

 

Activities

Cool and creative activities are a sure fire way to ensure candidates leave the event giddy and gloating to all of their friends and colleagues who missed out. 

Here are a few brilliant activities other companies have used to generate hype around their recruitment event.

Scavenger Hunt

  • Create a list of tasks for attendees to complete that lead them throughout the event and get the full experience. Include tasks like ‘like us on social’ and ‘sign up for our email newsletter’ to gather information. Offer a raffle or prize to encourage people to participate.

Theme

  • You've surely been to a theme party, so you know the basics. The same approach can be applied to recruitment events to great success. Just make sure you plan accordingly. If you're hosting an Olympics-themed events, you'll need to have some fun games planned. Going for a Vegas theme? Make sure to have some card tables set up. 

Interactive Games

  • If you’re in a trendy tech office, you likely already have some kind of entertainment, like a ping pong table or shuffle board. Have a competition to encourage attendees to join employees in a friendly game.
  • If you don’t have games in your office, get creative and make a wall of sticky notes for people to post ideas or create an image.

Cool Tech

  • If you have any cool tech that your company has designed or invested in, show it off and give people a chance to try it out. Solstice has both an office robot and an AR game in their office that are sure to wow attendees at their events.

 

Virtual Reality

  • Especially if you’re hosting an event off site, virtual reality has become quite popular at recruiting events to provide office tours and other work-related experiences. Check out how Accenture created a VR video for candidates to interact with their office in a new, high tech way.

 

 

 

Recruitment Marketing for Events

Here's a philosophical question for you. If your team hosts an event and no one attends, was there ever really an event? Recruitment marketing for events is just as important as all of the details that go into hosting an event. Your marketing team should have clear insight into what platforms and networks work best for your target audience, so make sure to partner with them on your efforts. Here are a few additional things to consider when promoting your event.

 

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Communication

Communication is key to every successful recruiting event. When promoting your event, make sure to provide candidates with all of the information they need and more. Candidates are already nervous about preparing their own elevator pitch and resumes for recruiters and researching your company.

Time & Location: You can not iterate enough when and where your event is being held. The number of candidates who will mix up the date or time will astound you, so help them minimize user error by ingraining it in their brains.

Directions: There’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve crossed all your ‘t’s and dotted all your ‘i’s, only to get lost on your way to an event. Save your candidates last minute panic by providing thorough directions on how to get to your event and what to expect upon arrival in your 48 hour email.

Checklist: Provide a thorough checklist of everything they should bring to your event, which may include:

  • Resume/CV
  • Cover Letter
  • References
  • Business Cards
  • Identification
  • Documentation

What to Wear: The proper attire for recruiting events can be quite ambiguous, especially for newbies to the workforce. Provide information about the appropriate attire for your event and elaborate on what that means to you.

Your interpretation of business casual may be quite different than someone of a different generation or from a different industry, culture or background, so it’s best to have everyone on the same page. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this guide.

Disclosure: Include any other information candidates need to know, such as Terms of Use, age limit if the event involves alcohol, time constraints, etc.

 

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Target Diverse Talent

If you’re only promoting your recruitment event on certain platforms, you are limiting your target audience to their users. While platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn are great resources, they should not be the only platforms you use to attract diverse candidates.

Make a concerted effort to recruit at diverse universities and hold events in areas and at venues that will attract talent of all backgrounds. Also take into account any language barriers that may limit attendees by translating invite information or removing colloquial or industry-specific jargon.

 

Local vs National

When considering open roles, make sure to take into account the geographic location of target candidates. If the role is remote, your recruitment marketing options are nearly endless. However, if you require a candidate to live in a specific area, you’ll need to target candidates by region (unless you offer relocation benefits).

That being said, you may want to look into more local or national event platforms. Eventbrite, for example is fairly well-known in big cities nationwide, but if you’re hosting a hyperlocal event, the platform may not be as common and a more local platform may already exist.

 

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Email

People are already grossly overwhelmed with content and emails day-in and day-out. If you already have a regular newsletter, consider adding a section to highlight your event. Even if your newsletter is more business oriented, you’ll be reaching out to people who are already familiar with and utilize your product or service.

Not only that, but if you’re great at what you do, your customers and followers are likely already brand ambassadors who will be thrilled to share your open roles with their networks.

If you don’t have a newsletter or you’d prefer to keep events separate, create a promotional email that goes out six, four and two weeks before the event date, and send a follow up email at five, three and one week before the event. Make sure to include all the crucial information and link back to where they can RSVP.

After the event is complete, send out a ‘thank you’ or ‘recap’ email to inform people who may have missed the event and show appreciation for their interest in your company as an employer. If you collected contact information for candidates, send out personalized emails to draw them further into your talent pipeline.

 

Social Media

Social media is a must for promoting just about everything, including recruitment events. Social platforms are constantly rolling out new features to help users get better connected. Here are a few common ways to get your event in front of candidates through social media.

  • Platforms: Common platforms for recruitment events are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, but check out any local or industry-specific platforms that may attract more diverse and qualified talent.
  • Video: If you have an employer branding, company culture or recruiting video, share it when promoting your event.
  • Giveaways: If you’re going to have any cool giveaways or activities at the event, get candidates excited and share what you have in store.
  • Discounts: Encourage people to sign up early by offering discounts if your event charges a fee.
  • Employee Testimonials: Share a few words from your team members about why they like to work for your company.
  • Live Streaming: During the event, make sure to live stream so that candidates who aren’t able to make the event or who are on the fence about coming are able to stay informed no matter where they are.

If you’re having low engagement or RSVPs a week or so before the event, start incorporating paid promotion in your efforts to ensure your event is known and well-attended.

 

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Recruitment Event Platforms

In addition to social media, there are a variety of platforms available to help get the word out about your event. Keep in mind, there may be better platforms based on your industry and geographical location, but here are a few popular event platforms used nationwide.

Follow Up Survey

There’s no such thing as a perfect event. It's virtually a guarantee that something will go wrong, and that’s okay! Events are an evolving process, and the best way to improve your next event is to gather feedback from attendees to learn what went well and what could be improved upon next time.

There are several survey platforms out there that can help you gather that feedback. Here are a few to look into:

 

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