Interested learning more about how to host a successful virtual event? View this guide from Handshake!
Please note: Premium features are for Handshake Premium accounts only. For more information, please check out this resource.
Looking for the highlights? Download a snapshot of these virtual event takeaways for easy reference.
Virtual events are a great way to augment your existing early talent strategy, allowing you to extend your reach while lowering travel-related costs.
With virtual events, employers are able to engage with students from all backgrounds, disciplines, and interests, regardless of where they go to school. Ultimately, virtual events are an impactful way for students to connect with the fabric of your brand: they give prospects the opportunity to ask live questions, see offices, and interact with employees in the field and in real time.
Handshake Premium enables employers to post virtual events in the same way you can post on-campus and off-campus events.
To get started, visit our support center for step-by-step instructions on how to request a virtual event on Handshake.
To help you recruit remarkable talent for your next virtual event, read on for best practices on creating and hosting engaging virtual events.
Before the Event
When it comes to virtual events, one size does not fit all. There are many types of virtual events you can host depending on your needs. Before your next event, make sure you conduct research into how you’re going to host this event, the type of event that’ll be most effective, and content and promotional planning.
1. Plan your event & promotional plan
- Set a goal
- What’s the desired outcome of your virtual events? Is it to spread awareness, drive applicants, or both? Thinking through this process will help determine your content, speakers, promotional plan, and follow up.
- Find a host
- Consider who will provide the most insight to your target audience or Segments—for students, a full panel of senior managers may not be as relatable as a panel of recently graduated alumni.
- Plan your promotion
- Personalization matters! For your first virtual event, try tailoring it to a specific role or category. That will help you narrow down your target audience and content to the specific needs of your talent segments.
2. Types of virtual events
- Office tour
- If your office is open, highlight what a day in the life of an intern or new college grad would be like. If your office is currently closed, share any videos you might have on YouTube that showcase everyday life.
- Show the fun aspects that make being in your office exciting and rewarding (tip: these should be pre-recorded so that there aren’t any issues with content or employee consent).
- AMA (Ask Me Anything)
- Host this session with a recruiter or hiring manager as well as a moderator.
- Allow students to ask questions about the interview process, hiring timelines, employer perks, culture, mentorship, career growth, and overall company sentiment. Come prepared with a list of FAQs to help get the conversation going.
- Employee panel
- Feature recent grads or alumni—students like to hear from people who are like them and have been through a similar journey. Have a moderator prepare some pre-canned questions about their journey from college to career, experience at the organization, and why they are most proud about their work. This will help stem a series of questions from students that the panel can answer.
- ERGs (Employee Resource Groups)
- Leverage internal ERGs to show future students how the company is committed to creating an inclusive workplace where each individual has a community to lean on.
3. Identify your livestream platform
Once you’ve decided on the type of virtual event you’ll be hosting, your next step is to decide on a livestream platform of choice. Handshake does not offer live-streaming, but we do have space for you to post your external event or webinar link.
Many of our employer partners leverage platforms such as WebEx, GotoMeeting, YouTube Live, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Facebook Live, and Instagram TV.
4. Invite your priority segments
- Source your attendees
- Use Segments & Campaigns to proactively message students prior to your virtual events to invite them to RSVP. Make sure to share what they’ll learn, gain, and walk away with by attending this session.
- Remember, marketing experts predict that 40% of those who RSVP drop off, meaning only 60% of your RSVPs will actually show up. To get 50 attendees, for example, aim for t 85 RSVPs.
- Be specific and personal in your outreach
- Students want to hear why they’re a fit and why you’re reaching out.
General tips and best practices
- Schedule your event at a time that doesn’t conflict with class schedules so you can maximize your attendees.
- Tuesdays through Thursdays are the best days of the week to host a virtual event. If you are inviting students from around the country, consider hosting it during a convenient time across time zones (generally 3-6pm ET). If you’re engaging students regionally, 11am local time works best.
- Events should be maximum 45 minutes of content, followed by 15 minutes of QA to keep students alert and engaged.
- Set goals for how many attendees you’d like at your first virtual event, then use that as a benchmark to gauge success and traction on future events.
- Treat your first few virtual events as an experiment! It may take one or two to find the best content and structure that works for your target audience.
- Keep your events authentic—the less scripted the better. Students want to hear from current employees in a personalized and casual way. Displaying comradery and community with panels or office tours is a great way to recruit Gen Z authentically.
- Like with any virtual event or webinar, there will be a drop off from RSVP to attendee. Marketing experts advise preparing for a 40% drop off.
During an Event
Test audio and video
About 20 minutes before your event, have a fellow employee login as an attendee to test your audio and video.
Track who attends
Virtual event attendees are leads just like students who stop by in-person at your career fair booth. Make sure you track who shows up. Here are a few ways you can do this:
- Leverage Handshake’s Event Check-In Guide.
- Share an automatically generated virtual QR code to scan at attendees at the beginning of your event. Your attendees will then show as “checked-in” on your Handshake dashboard.
- Check to see if your livestream platform allows for an attendee download. Many livestream platforms let you download a CSV file so you can track the names and emails of those who attended.
Monitor chat questions
Chat questions—just like live questions—are a great indicator of interest. Make sure there is a moderator alongside your host or co-hosts to facilitate the conversation.
After an Event
Follow up with your attendees and absentees
- Use Handshake’s Event Attendee Page to follow up with attendees en masse.
- Consider tying your call to action (i.e. what you want talent to do after your event) with your post-event follow up. We recommend sending separate follow ups to attendees and no shows.
- For attendees, we recommend a follow up message recapping content and sharing your call to action, like a link to apply to an open job.
- For folks who couldn’t attend, we recommend a follow up message with ‘sorry we missed you’ messaging, and sharing your main call to action.
Track virtual event attendees all the way to hire
If you direct candidates to a job to apply, make sure you’re including a source code so that you can track candidates from RSVP to attendee to hire. Especially if this is your first event, tracking attendees through your hiring funnel is a great way to demonstrate the potential success of your first virtual event to leadership.