Amidst school closures there are many incredibly challenging problems to solve in ensuring learning continues in an effective and equitable way. Given that context, it's not surprising that recruitment has taken somewhat of a back seat. However, given the importance of having the right teachers leading our classrooms, the fact is that hiring must go on and if it doesn't happen now, schools are at risk of starting the fall understaffed.
Moving your recruitment activities online doesn't have to be an insurmountable challenge. If done right, the shift to online recruitment can save time and budget for your team. Below, we outline three simple virtual recruitment and hiring event types along with the tools and tips you'll need to execute each of them effectively.
One tried and true way to cultivate candidates is through an information session. In a virtual environment, here are a few things to consider:
- Goal: The goal of this type of event is to strongly highlight your Employee Value Proposition (EVP). In other words, what makes your organization a special place to work? Remember that this is a recruitment event, rather than a selection event. Your main purpose is to give candidates a strong understanding of what it would be like to work at your organization.
- Format: An online information session should be concise and highly interactive. We recommend limiting the time to an hour with ample time for Q&A. Structuring it as a whole group session at the front end with time to then break out into smaller groups allows you to share high-level information with the full group and also give candidates a chance to engage with other stakeholders who can lead the smaller group discussions.
- Tech: Ideally, you should utilize a technology like Zoom that allows for breakout rooms. Doing so will enable candidates to ask individualized questions and have an opportunity to learn from other stakeholders such as teachers or school leaders. We suggest you prepare other members of your team in the information session to host small group breakouts so that candidates have an opportunity to learn from and interact with more people than just yourself.
- Prep: Preparing for this type of event is key: you should develop strong talking points for each stakeholder that will be hosting a small group discussion and ensure that you have follow-up materials prepared and ready to send as soon as the information session is over.
If you are a school district with multiple campuses, a recruitment fair can often be a helpful way to introduce candidates to each campus efficiently. However, you may be wondering: “How can I host a recruitment fair online?” The good news is that it is very possible to host a fair in a virtual setting, as long as you prepare correctly:
- Goal: The goal of a recruitment fair is cultivation. Similar to an information session, a recruitment fair is meant to give a broad array of candidates access to information about the schools they could potentially work for. However, unlike an information session, a recruitment fair allows the organization to also quickly learn more about individual candidates to determine if they could be a good fit to enter the pipeline.
- Format: A virtual recruitment fair is an event in which candidates enter a virtual “lobby” that lists out the “booths” of each school and/or campus. Candidates can click to enter the virtual booths to learn more about specific job opportunities and about the school/campus itself. In addition, depending on the platform, candidates can virtually “chat” with a representative (typically a recruiter and/or a school leader) through text-based or video chats.
- Tech: Technology is key. Two platforms that are most widely used are Brazen and vFairs. Much of the technology is built off of live “chats”, in which candidates are able to interact with recruiters and/or other representatives from an organization in a text-based chat. Some platforms utilize video conferencing, but many are based off of text chats only. While there are some down sides to interacting in a text-based manner as opposed to video or phone, the up sides are that it allows representatives to engage with a much higher volume of candidates (something that is key for a recruitment event). In addition, we have found that candidates appreciate the ability to both do online research while chatting, and engage virtually from home while potentially needing to take care of other dependents.
- Prep: Preparation is critical for an online recruitment fair, especially for recruiters and/or school leaders who will be participating. We recommend hosting preparation sessions to walk individuals through the system, demonstrate how to engage with candidates, and answer questions, so that your day-of experience is as seamless as possible.
If you have a strong pipeline of candidates, you may also be wondering “how can I host virtual events for screening and hiring?” One way to do so is an online hiring fair. This requires a bit more intentionality and pre-planning than if you were to host an event like this in-person. Here are some key considerations:
- Goal: A hiring event is part of the selection process. You should be utilizing this type of event if you have a large pool of candidates that you are hoping to introduce to principals in an efficient manner. This type of event is most useful for larger districts and networks and is not as beneficial for single site schools or small networks.
- Format: A hiring event is an event that allows schools to interview candidates 1:1. It typically involves an interview with at least the school leader, if not a panel, and interviews can range from 30 minutes to 2 hours. In a virtual setting, we recommend giving schools 30 minute, 45 minute, or 60 minute “slots,” to which candidates are pre-assigned. In advance, you will need to email candidates their “schedule” along with the links to each school’s interview “room” (e.g. a Zoom or Google Hangouts link). To ensure that you are not overburdening candidates and schools, we highly recommend that hiring events span multiple days in a week.
- Tech: We recommend that you utilize Zoom or another video platform that allows for a waiting room. Doing so will allow candidates to join in advance of their time slot, while giving the school leader and/or panel the opportunity to finish engaging with the candidate in the meeting room before allowing a new candidate to enter.
- Prep: Similar to the other type of events, preparation is key. Pre-assigning candidates requires an understanding of each candidate’s background as well as each school’s hiring needs. This typically means having a Project Lead to coordinate the event across all schools and candidates. The Project Lead should conduct preparation conversations with each school leader to make sure they are aware of how the principal will be utilizing that time; then, share guidance with candidates to set expectations. Ideally, you want to balance creating a standard agenda to ensure that candidates have a similar experience across schools, with allowing school leaders some autonomy and flexibility to utilize the time as they desire.
Regardless of the event type you choose, there are three important steps you’ll want to take to succeed in the virtual context:
First, be sure to prepare your presenters with virtual event best practices to engage their audience. For example, sharing an agenda and norms at the top of the event, naming the newness of the virtual process for everyone, and asking some simple questions to engage attendees through the chat are examples of easy steps your presenters can take to keep their virtual audience engaged.
Second, just like with a live event, attendees want clear expectations around things like dress code and event format. Make sure you prepare them with answers to these questions, as well as information on how to access and test their technology and who to contact should they run into trouble.
Lastly, bias can creep into virtual settings in different ways than it does in person. It’s particularly important to consider how you’re forming your opinions about candidates in this new setting. You can mitigate some of this by leaning into your organization’s hiring profiles or recording interviews so you can get a second opinion from colleagues on your ratings and impressions of candidates.
For more information about hosting virtual events, check out EdFuel’s guidance on virtual sourcing and hiring and Nimble’s virtual talent management resources. EdFuel also facilitates virtual recruitment and hiring fairs for organizations around the country, which you can learn more about here.