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Are Virtual Hiring Events the Future of Talent Acquisition?
Virtual hiring solutions, which have been around for quite some time, have exploded to the forefront of the talent acquisition space due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But are they here to stay? Well, let’s find out with Anthony Gentile, the managing partner at Live Recruit. He’s here today to talk about why virtual hiring matters right now and how employers can use online recruitment events to attract quality candidates, engage seekers, and fast-track their hiring processes.
What is Live Recruit?
Live Recruit is a virtual hiring and engagement platform that connects candidates to employers in a modern environment, really responding to today’s modern candidate experience.
The importance of virtual hiring
I think virtual hiring and, maybe more precisely, virtual recruitment and engagement solutions are now just critical components to many organizations, talent acquisition strategy. In my opinion, virtual hiring solutions have shifted from a quote unquote, nice to have to pretty much a cost of doing business at this point. I think one reason is probably cultural shifts in the way that people in general prefer to communicate in all aspects of life. I mean, think about it.
We don’t even call our friends and family anymore; we text them. When we’re shopping online, gone are the days where we pick up the phone and call the 800 number or send an email to request more info. People want information and they want it really fast. I don’t care if you’re on Walmart’s website, seeking answers about shipping, or you’re on the Amazon app needing to find out why your deliveries are late.
The option to chat is far preferable to all those other options. So if this has really taken over the consumer world to enhance the customer experience, it makes sense that the candidate experience would follow and step, obviously, too. What we all know is that remote work is at an all time high and is going to continue to gain in popularity, and the need to learn how to recruit and engage virtually is more important, especially when building that remote workforce.
And let’s be honest too. This is a candidate driven market, and the age old traditional strategy of employer, post job candidate visits job board and applies, recruiter evaluates application, recruiter reaches out and schedules a phone screen. This approach is become increasingly ineffective because it still places the bulk of the burden on the candidate to do all of the work, but in a tight labor market, placing the burden on the candidate is just the wrong approach.
You want to make it as easy as possible for that candidate to start the conversation with a really great experience. So presenting a candidate with an option to sign up for a virtual chat session, as opposed to maybe asking them to complete an application is just a far better approach right now.
How do you know if virtual hiring are right for your company right now?
Yeah, that’s a good point because I wouldn’t say that they are right for every organization. But I think there’s some key indicators that would dictate whether or not they’re right for certain organizations and certain talent acquisition teams. One, I think you’ve got to start by, if I’m a hiring manager or I’m a director TA, I’m going to start by evaluating the hiring forecast. And if you don’t have a hiring forecast, well, then you should probably start by developing a hiring forecast. That’s going to tell you and kind of dictate whether your needs are intermittent or more persistent. If the organization has persistent hiring needs, then a constant, always-on, virtual recruitment and hiring strategy should be really be part of the overall plan.
It’s also important, too, to evaluate what your team’s bandwidth is. Does your team have a dedicated sourcing function or do the recruiters have to source talent as well? If you have sourcers, well, virtual is a great tool for them because it really focuses on what their core functionality is, which is talent pipe lining, as opposed to requisition based sourcing. And if the recruiters also have to source, it’s really an incredible time-saver for them because I don’t know too many recruiters that spend all day qualifying applicants and doing phone screens that have the desire and energy to proactively cold call and source at the end of the day.
How do you know if virtual hiring are right for your company right now?
Given the fact that candidates are really holding all the cards and, in some industries, candidates can ultimately decide where they want to work before they even apply to the job. Think of hospitals right now that are starving for nursing talent and other medical professionals. If you are a medical professional, you can pretty much throw a dart at the board of the United States and say, I’m going to go work there now. And you’ll probably be offered a job on the spot.
So that’s where branding is really, really important because if candidates are educated, and they are, and they can do their due diligence well before deciding to apply to a job, then what your brand says and what your digital experience when a candidate is evaluating your organization is really, really important. So having a good brand ultimately can make the difference.
And one of those things from a candidate perspective is if I have to apply to a job just to ask a couple of questions, that’s a huge turnoff for me as a candidate, especially if I’m the one that’s holding the leverage right now. So the virtual experience, I think, really speaks well and favorably towards the overall brand.
How to choose virtual hiring technology
- I would say, look, cost is probably the obvious place to start. Not that cost should totally drive the decision because look, if there was a product out there was free, but just terrible to use or that horrible UI, and it didn’t work, then it’s a complete waste of time. But cost is important. So you want to make sure it fits the budget. You also want to make sure that you don’t have any add-on fees or hidden costs because chances are, if you’re new to this, you’re going to have to go into leadership and lobby and fight for dollars and you want to make sure that whatever the cost is going to be, all of that upfront. So cost is definitely a good place to start.
- Then I say, you want to think about user interface, right? How easy is the product to use? How easy is it to implement? Because the easier it is to both use and implement, the more likely your teams to adopt it and get value.
- Then, think about the candidate experience. You have to be very, very mindful of that. In fact, the candidate experience is more important than the recruiter experience, because like I said, if it’s anything less than frictionless, you’re kind of back to square one of asking candidates to jump through hoops. So make sure candidates don’t have to create login credentials when they register, generate a profile, making a resume mandatory, these are huge turnoffs and are definitely going to discourage registrants.
- Finally make sure you have some really good onboarding support, not just in the beginning, but along the way, because your team today could look very different from your team six months from now and new people who come onto the team, you want to make sure that there’s somebody at the platform that can walk them through it, especially if you have hiring managers coming in and out of events too, that’s really important that you have really good, dedicated support.
Virtual Hiring Event Best Practices
When should you start promoting an event?
Good question. I think, I think you promote it based on the nature of your hiring needs. So if you have intermittent needs, where you’re going to pop up virtual events, one next week and one maybe three months from now, and then one later this year in Q4, I think the rule of thumb and what I’ve seen best practices, you want to start promoting that event about 12 to 14 days in advance. If it’s anything sooner than that, sometimes it’s hard for candidates to get it on their schedule.
And events, anything longer than two weeks out, some of the real active candidates don’t want to wait that long and you run the risk that they’re just going to go apply to a job elsewhere. But again, if you have more persistent, ongoing needs, then really that always-on strategy, the walk-in, the virtual Walk-in Wednesday approach whereby every single week, Thursday from two to four, o’clock, you’re always hosting an event, that’s what you’re going to do with that always-on strategy.
Who should attend the event?
I think a lot of organizations do it differently and a lot of organizations also struggle with this. If you have sourcers, should they be there? Recruiters and hiring managers. Again, I think it all depends on the makeup of your organization. If you have dedicated sourcers, 100 percent, this is the realm of the sourcer. Because again, this is really more about talent pipe lining, as opposed to requisition-based sourcing. If you do want to have hiring managers on, I think there’s a couple of things that you need to make sure.
One, they need to be onboarded because the recruiters and sourcers who are in doing this all the time, they’re going to be very up to speed on how the event is going to work. But you definitely want to make sure you onboard any hiring managers, and also make sure that hiring managers really understand the cadence of what is supposed to happen.
So typically what I found to be most successful, if there’s going to be recruiters and hiring managers in there, that the recruiters are going to be the front line of communication to that candidate. They’re going to assess right there during the event skillset interest, and essentially then triage the best ones to a hiring manager who kind of sits in the background. So the hiring managers really shouldn’t be proactively starting and engaging any of that. And I think if you are the type of organization, or it’s a type of job where you would make offers on the spot, then I think it would make sense to have our hiring managers in the background. And if not, and you might not want hiring managers there.
Let me start by saying that if we think every candidate that registers for the event is actually going to show up then think again, right? Do you attend every webinar you register for? I know I don’t. Life happens. People’s plans change, schedules shift, and quite frankly, a candidate who registered their interest in making a career move might have diminished since they’ve registered, causing second thoughts. So I’d say in general and what the data tells us is that you should expect anywhere from 40 to 70% of registrants actually attend the event.
Now, if you host an event and 15% of the candidates who registered show up, does that mean you push the panic button? No, but if routinely you’re seeing only 10, 15 or 20% of candidates showing up, then I think you have a problem and you got to look into that. It could be timing. There could be some sort of barrier to entry in there. So you want to look at that 40 to 70% as a benchmark.
Whats the best duration for each event?
I usually see anywhere from one to four hours, and nothing really much longer than that. It all is also going to be a function of what’s your registering database looks like. Are 500 candidates registered for the event or is it 50? The beauty, too, of doing virtual is that there’s going to be times where you’re having furiously chatting with candidates. And there’s going to be times where you have a lull in the conversation and you could go four, five, six, maybe 10 minutes in between chats, but doing so in a virtual environment.
And most people that I know that do this, they’ll have their chat screen open on one screen and then they’ll have their other screen open and they’re doing work simultaneously. Whereas having a brick and mortar on site event, if you’re doing a two hour event at your organization, you’re probably sitting in a hallway somewhere, you’re manning a table. And if there’s a lull in traffic, it’s not like you can get much else done. So if you have a two-hour window, a virtual window, and you’re having chats here, chats there, when there is a dip in conversation, you can kind of go about your work and do other things, which is, I think another reason why the recruiter experience is really good with virtual.