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 dazzle attendees.
What Is a Hiring Event?
To develop this guide, we asked event planning experts to share their wealth of knowledge for anyone interested in how to host a recruitment event that’s unforgettable.
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.
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 and 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, 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.
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 help get people through the door.
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
Incorporate recruitment marketing in the planning stages, preparing for three big promotional pushes. 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.
Dedicated Mailing List
Dive into your dedicated mailing list and identify which users:
- Indicated they want to hear about events.
- Attended prior events.
- Consistently open your emails.
Use this information to steer your promotional efforts toward the most promising potential attendees.
If you already have a regular newsletter, start incorporating information about your event in the newsletter.
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.
1.5 Months Before the Event: Send Invites
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. By this point, you should also know whether the event will be free or if you’ll be charging attendees a 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. If you’re charging a fee, consider having a promo code to provide complimentary entry for candidates in your pipeline that you want to attend by providing them with complimentary entry.
Small Event: 10-50 Attendees
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. 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
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. 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.
You should already be sharing 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.
1 Month Before the Event: Finalize the Details
Roughly a month before you host a hiring event, be sure to finalize key details. This is the time to make sure you arrange enough volunteers to work the event, have all the equipment you’ll need and have arranged for some enticing refreshments.
Get an RSVP Count and Set Up a Floor Plan
Let the venue know about how many attendees you anticipate will arrive for the event. Keep in mind that drop off rates can average between 25 to 50 percent, 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.
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.
Arrange a Ticketing and Registration System
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.
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 at least one volunteer for every 10 attendees. Remember, it’s always better to have too many volunteers that you can send home than to be understaffed.
Make sure all of your team members have professional business cards to hand out at the event and name tags for attendees.
Order Food and Drinks
Work with your venue or caterer to determine food and beverage packages that will draw in attendees and leave them satisfied. Make sure your order accounts for how many attendees you expect based on both RSVPs and potential walk-ins. Nobody wants a hangry after-work attendee at their event.
Make sure all of your essential equipment like microphones and speakers are working and ready to go. 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.
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 what to do at a networking event versus a 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
3 Hours Before Event
Roughly three hours before a recruitment event is scheduled to start, caterers should be arriving to set up food. At this point, you should also be getting the sound and electrical systems ready to go, as well as arranging tables, seating or areas for activities.
90 Minutes Before Event
You should have a team huddle with volunteers about an hour and a half before the event starts to assign jobs. A registration table should also be set up with name tags, handouts and anything else attendees will need as they come through the door.
45 Minutes Before Event
It’s a good idea to have everyone do a sweep through the office 45 minutes before the hiring event to clear away trash and check that waste bins have been emptied. Support staff will likely already be on site, but it’s time for them to begin preparing for whatever roles they’ll need to fill during the event.
Day of Event: Third-Party Venue
3 Hours Before Event
The venue should have an events coordinator who is taking charge of getting everything up at least three hours before the recruitment event starts. This includes tasks like arranging the floor plan and handling any electrical equipment. You should come early though to take care of any last minute details that a coordinator might not handle, such as hanging extra decorations.
90 Minutes Before Event
Your events team should arrive at the venue an hour and a half before the event starts to ensure things are running smoothly and answer any last minute questions.
45 Minutes Before Event
Volunteers and support staff need to get there about 45 minutes before the event to help with final preparations, such as cleaning up any remaining trash.
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 an attendee indicated they are interested in a specific role, make sure someone from that department reaches out to the prospect.
Your 9 step checklist to make the most of your next recruitment event.
Recruitment Event Tips
Consider Recruitment Event Timing and 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 event as early as 5:30 p.m., but if your city requires people to drive, consider starting closer to 6:30 p.m.
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.
Find the Right Hiring Event 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.
Know Where to Host a Hiring Event
Your goals, budget and size will strongly influence where you hold your event. 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. Having some help in the beginning can save serious time and money until you have a better understanding of how and where to host an event on your own.
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?
Keep in mind you’ll likely want to have space for a bag and coat check as well. 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.
Tell Attendees What to Expect
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.
Provide Food and drinks
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.
Prepare Staff to Attend
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.
Start the Recruitment event With a Proper Kickoff
Regardless of whether you’ve decided to plan a recruitment event in the office or at an off-site venue, it’s important to kick things off with a brief introduction. Take five minutes to address guests with welcoming remarks, using the time as an opportunity to set the stage for what they can expect to happen next. Inform people about break out sessions and activities and provide a bit of guidance for attendees to get the most out of the event.
Plan Interesting Activities
Fun activities are a surefire way to ensure candidates leave the event giddy and gloating to all of their friends and colleagues who missed out. Some ideas include organizing a scavenger hunt, playing interactive games, incorporating virtual reality or simply just giving the event a creative theme.
End the Hiring Event Politely
Getting people out of an office or a venue can be challenging, but you can provide subtle, polite cues. Doing things like starting to clean up and or put away equipment can signal to guests that it’s time to say goodbyes and start heading for the doors. If you’re serving alcohol, having an official ‘last call’ 15 to 30 minutes before the event ends can also be a good way to let people know things are winding down.
Collect Feedback From Attendees
There’s no such thing as a perfect event, and the best way to improve your next one 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.
How to Promote Your Hiring Event
Here are a few additional things to consider when promoting your event.
COMMUNICATe Necessary Details
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 and Location
You cannot remind candidates enough of when and where your event is being held. Communicate these details continuously.
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.
Provide a thorough checklist of everything they should bring to your event, which may include:
- Cover Letter
- Business Cards
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.
Target Diverse Talent
If you’re only promoting your recruitment event on certain platforms, you are limiting your target audience to their users. 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.
Promote Your Events via Email
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.
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.
Post About Recruitment Events on 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.
Your 9 step checklist to make the most of your next recruitment event.