In this second part of my tips on how to run a successful graduate recruitment event, I will focus on the during and after parts of the event. These tips are drawn from discussions with my colleagues Olga, Sonal, Grace and Usmaan, all of whom have organised and ran a multitude of events.
Missed the first part on how to run the perfect graduate recruitment event? Get a quick update here for everything you need to know and do before the actual event, including paying for travel, sending regular follow-ups, adding an incentivising element to the events and more.
What to do during the event
Think about everything! Grace, Content and Community Manager, and Sonal, Partnerships Success Lead, highlight how they do a test run before every single event and go from the registration desk all the way to ordering drinks and being seated, just as if they were one of the attendees. Of course, a little something will always be omitted, but when you double- and triple-check everything, you make sure that you limit the number of things that don’t go as planned.
- Provide food & drinks
Let’s start with the essentials. Food and drinks are an inherent part of a graduate recruitment event – free pizzas are great, though any kind of snack works. At our last event, one student briefly left the event to get herself a cup of coffee. Although the number of people who want (need?) a coffee at 7pm is generally limited, catering for everyone’s needs will help avoid these type of occurrences – such as including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and non-alcoholic options.
- Take regular breaks
Although the 8-second attention span is a myth, students (and humans in general) cannot fully focus for 3 hours in a row on a PowerPoint showing the intricacies of the recruitment process for the graduate engineering role and how it differs from the graduate accountant role. Not that these things are not important or not interesting: this is just how our brains work and having regular breaks will help get your argument across much better.
- Include recent graduates
Graduates like to speak with their peers (even better if they attended the same university as them, even better). They can relate to each others’ experience and would feel they can speak more openly with a graduate who was in their shoes just a few months earlier.
- Make it intimate
The more, the merrier? Not when it comes to graduate recruitment events. Too many people can make students feel overwhelmed. If you do have a lot of attendees, make sure you have enough people from the company present to look after everyone.
- Make sure it’s interactive
Although explaining your recruitment process is an important part of a graduate recruitment event, students tend to enjoy something more interactive. This could include a workshop, a debate, a game, a competition… Interacting with other people will help build connections and strengthen your company image. Moreover, attendees will certainly remember you much better three weeks down the road when they start applying.
- If in doubt, use a professional
There is no shame in saying “I don’t know”. For a long time, we have mostly used members of our team for organising and ‘entertaining’ our events. A month ago, for the first time, we had a professional host come in to animate the Q&A part of our event and this made a real difference. This did not mean that our team was not good at it, but professionals exist for a reason.
What to do after the event
Finally, your graduate recruitment event was a hit; now you can rest. Really? Not entirely.
- Feedback forms
Online or with the good old paper and pens, feedback forms will help you reflect ahead of the next graduate recruitment event. Moreover, students change, and today’s truth might not be tomorrow’s reality. As for many things, continuous learning is very important and feedback forms will help with that.
- Follow-up after the event
Make sure you follow-up with the attendees after the event. Not necessarily the day after, as the event will still be fresh in their minds, but maybe a week after. This could be anything from a small piece of content you mentioned in your presentation or a gentle reminder to apply.