Written by Derhen Coulomb, Partnerships Executive
Nightmares about running your next graduate recruitment event? Unsure whether people will show up? Afraid that attendees will find your presentation boring and start scrolling through Instagram five minutes in?
As graduate recruiters look to expand the range of their activities beyond careers fairs, organising a successful graduate recruitment event has become more important than ever. I had the chance of chatting with my colleagues Olga, Sonal, Grace and Usmaan, who have organised and ran a multitude of events (you might have heard of our last event, #DebutRealTalk, in partnership with EY, Vodafone, Gowling WLG and our friends at The Smarty Train).
They kindly shared their top tips for making your event a hit with students! Since they have given me a large number of tips, there will be two separate articles: one on what to do before the event (this one) and another on what to do during and after the event.
What to do before the event
When you start planning an event preparation is key. And as part of preparing your event, Grace, Content & Community Manager, highlighted you should make sure that you know both your aims and your audience. Once that is set, let’s dive in to the more practical aspects of running a successful graduate recruitment event!
- Pay for travel
All members of the team agreed on this – paying for travel is one key attraction tool, especially when you are focusing on social mobility candidates or if the event is taking place outside of London. Make sure the process for being reimbursed is crystal-clear, as well as the amount attendees are entitled to: candidates might drop out if they feel the process is overcomplicated or unclear.
- Find the right time and date
Avoid Fridays or Mondays. Thursdays tend to be the preferred option. Also, early evenings are the best time of the day for organising a graduate recruitment event.
- Explain why people have been invited
Students like to understand why them and not any of their classmates or friends have been invited – make sure you tell them. If it is a Women in Tech event, it goes without saying that men are not invited. Nevertheless, highlighting this will also give an extra incentive for candidates to come to the event as they expect the content to be more relevant to them.
- Don’t forget about the drop-off rate
Yes, people will drop-off. That is just how students (and humans in general) work. If you have organised graduate recruitment events before, you can look at previous drop-off rates to extrapolate based on that. If not, it is better to go over than under: although a too crowded event is never enjoyable, fairly certain anyone would prefer that over a half-empty hall with two graduates awkwardly staring at each other and half a dozen recruiters silently sipping cocktails. Please do take into account that people are more likely to drop out if it is a larger event – people feel more obliged to show up at a ‘smaller’ event.
- Add an easy drop-out tool
As Usmaan, Partnerships Manager, highlighted, make sure an easy drop-out tool is available for attendees, so they can manage their attendee status at any point. It will help you have a better visibility of the drop-off rate.
- Send regular follow-ups
In order to minimise the drop-off rate, send students regular follow-ups. Sonal, Partnerships Success Lead, advises to include interesting and relevant content to those follow-ups so they don’t feel as you are spamming their inbox.
- Invite students early
Make sure you give students plenty of time ahead of the event so they can organise themselves. Olga, Partnerships Success Lead, mentions that 3 to 4 weeks is ideal, so they can consider whether they wish to attend or not and, if they have conflicting events, which one will/should have their preference.
- Add an incentivising element
Yes, we like to think we are special, us millennials or gen Z’s – and please watch this fantastic interview with Simon Sinek again if you’re interested in knowing why. Adding a little something in the invite for all students who attend will help you increase your conversion rate (for sure). The incentivising element could be anything from skipping one of the screening stages if they apply to hints and tips on the assessment centres or interviews.