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Event marketing

4 creative recruiting event ideas to attract Gen Z

Whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid, consider these events to engage Gen Z this recruiting season.

Hiring events are one of the most impactful ways for students to engage with your brand. In fact, 85% of candidates prefer to attend a career event before applying to a job according to a recent Handshake survey.* But as students head back to campus this fall, employers are starting to wonder—should my events take place in-person or online?

The answer is both. Based on our data, 50% of students prefer to attend both in-person and virtual events, while 28% would like to only attend in-person events and 16% prefer to only attend virtual events.* When it comes to events, hybrid is here to stay.

So what does that mean for you and your team—and more importantly, how will your company stand out? For most employers, information sessions and Ask Me Anything (AMA) events are popular event formats. But there are so many more ways for students to get to know your team!

Leading employers are evolving their event strategies to offer skill-building experiences and training, introduce more representative panels, and capture attention outside of traditional seasons. As you plan your events strategy this fall, consider trying out some new event formats. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Recruiting event idea #1: Hands-on learning workshop

Not only do skill-building events provide important insight into your candidate experience, they also show your long-term investment in professional development. According to a recent Handshake survey, over 90% of students and recent alumni expect substantial professional development from their employer.* Need some help zeroing in on a meaningful learning opportunity for early talent? Here are a couple ideas to get you started.

Interviewing tips and tricks: Interview prep can easily be done virtually or in person. Set up a mock interview and make notes of the candidate's body language and communication skills. Are they making eye contact? Are they giving answers to your questions? Remember to walk through your feedback with the candidate afterward.

Resume workshops: Virtual resume workshops are a great way to interact with candidates prior to meeting them in person. You can start building a relationship by working with them to identify their best skills to highlight and how they match to your open roles. Ask students to send their resumes in advance so you can come prepared with feedback and make your virtual session productive.

Recruiting event idea #2: Friendly competition

One of the unique traits of Gen Z is their constant drive to hustle. As a recruiter, you can capitalize on that. Pique student engagement with friendly competitions, which give candidates insight into the types of problem solving they would likely do in the roles that you’re recruiting for. They also give your team a chance to assess candidates’ skill sets, and how they collaborate with others if you choose to run a team project. Consider these ideas:

Hackathons for engineering students: For programmers of all experience levels, most coding is done solo. So the opportunity to showcase their skills publicly is pretty special. Enter: the hackathon, a challenge-style event specifically designed to help aspiring programmers make a splash in their future industry. Gain additional insight into your top candidates while improving your brand recognition among Gen Z programmers.

Sales pitches for business students: Sales pitches give students a unique opportunity to step out of their comfort zones, think on their feet, and gain real world experience—all while getting to know your team and product. Invite senior leaders to serve as a panel of judges and consider a prize for a more competitive edge.

Recruiting event idea #3: Value-oriented session

If values-driven Gen Z doesn’t feel connected to your mission or your commitment to social issues, they won't consider joining your team in the future. According to a Handshake Network Trends survey, 53% of students agree or strongly agree that they would not apply to a job or internship where they find that an employer lacks general diversity. Stand out from the rest of the pack and reach qualified candidates in a meaningful way with these ideas:

DEI panels: DEI panels give candidates from underrepresented backgrounds additional insight into what their experience at your company might look like. Invite junior employees and senior leaders of similar backgrounds to discuss their career path—and what led them to your company in the first place. Ask candidates to submit their questions in advance for a more personal and productive conversation.

Mental health information sessions: Give Gen Z a safe space to learn how they can take care of themselves throughout the job search. Invite candidates into breakout groups to discuss how they’re feeling, showcase the mental health and wellness benefits your employer offers, or even provide group activities like mindfulness exercises.

When we weren’t seeing a high turnout from our events, our team decided to switch gears and focus on what this new generation actually wants and focused our attention on personalized, branded events for specific segments. - Tiffanie Rice, Vice President, Comerica Bank

Recruiting event idea #4: Informal activity

As valuable as more formal events may be, don’t forget to bring the enthusiasm with fun, casual activities as well. Inspire a sense of camaraderie between employees and candidates while encouraging everyone to bring their whole selves to work at your company.

Trivia: Consider in-person or virtual trivia to help candidates to get to know your company values, product offerings, and even senior leadership in a fun, interactive way. When was your company founded? How many employees work in your main headquarters? What is your CEO’s favorite ice cream flavor? A range of questions can keep candidates on their toes while giving them a chance to learn more about your company in an informal setting.

Party time: Create a space for candidates to get to know your team on a more personal level. Consider company-themed beverages and appetizers to make your event even more memorable.

Whether in-person, virtual, or hybrid, creative hiring events can take your recruiting strategy to the next level. Handshake Events streamlines your team's workflow at both in person and virtual events and fairs, and helps you measure impact.

* Handshake internal study, July 2022; n= 1,593

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