Employer Virtual Recruiting Academy Key Takeaways
We all made adjustments related to social distancing and changes in hiring needs. We put together a Virtual Recruiter Academy to assist in the transition and work toward a new normal. Take advantage of the experience and knowledge of those in attendance and review key takeaways.
Duke Diversity, Inclusion & Equity Campus Leaders in Conversation
How employers can relate to and support the needs of the diverse student populations
- Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity (CSGD): When working with students make resources available and be willing to meet people where they are. Be sensitive to those who have experienced loss due to COVID-19 and depression due to anti-black racism. A lot of students, particularly in the sexual and gender diversity space, identify with multiple identities and we continue providing them with resources. Recognize that the job market is more difficult than years past.
- International House (I-House): For international students, there have been a lot of concerns on citizenship mobility. It is harder to navigate border lockdowns, travel restrictions, limits based on time differences, etc. Creating or having access to resources for self-care and immigration support for students will allow them to feel acknowledged and supported. Recognizing that the resilience and determination of our students, particularly in international students, is a great indication of their character. Offer networking opportunities, and connect international students with resources and workshops; this is a good opportunity to think of other ways to be inclusive and connect with students.
- Pratt School of Engineering, Intercultural Programs: We have noticed that when looking at shifting to a virtual space, shifting processes that are already in place may not necessarily work virtually. Our students are much more receptive to 1:1 engagement online. They need more ways to participate than the traditional use of raising hands and speaking up, so giving opportunities to participate through chat, polls, etc. gives the option to respond in a way that we view as valid. Students and everyone are in greater need of recognition of efforts because everything is harder right now and just showing up can be quite an effort.
Expressing interest in recruiting diverse talent, and being attractive to diverse talent
- Center for Multicultural Affairs (CMA): Students who hold marginalized identities look for a company who is walking the walk in their values and doesn’t just talk the talk. Students want to see diversity statements and their actions. Show how you support diverse talent, and share information about diversity within leadership. Express how you support students that want to feel heard, valued and engaged. They are also looking to make sure it is a good fit on a value level. Students want to feel valued by the company that hired them and have support mechanisms in place, allowing them to bring their wholeselves to the work place. We work with all students from racial minorities and SES, to first-generation low-income students, there may need to be considerations for different events and dress codes.
- Office of Student Veterans: When considering military affiliation, they want to feel seen in that identity and for you to realize what they can bring to the civilian workforce from their military experience. A lot of veteran students are graduate level and they were already officers in charge of leading, managing, and training. They have a wealth of experience they bring to the work place. Find respectful ways to ask how their experience is transferable, learn how to make them feel seen in their experiences by asking which branch of service and exploring how their service can bring skills to your organization. Take into consideration that it is very likely that veteran students have families. This next chapter is not just for them but for their families.
Considerations for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion initiatives
- CSGD: There are places students are already looking to see if the organizations they are looking toward are listed (Diversity rankings, etc.). For instance, through the Human Rights Campaign each organization is given a series of questions looking at policies, procedures and practices to meet different markers for sexual and gender diversity. What do your policies look like on the ground? Have diverse representation among your recruiters, employees, leadership, and offer mentorship in these areas. People want to see others who represent them. As an organization be very intentional working against the stereotypes.
- I-House: There should be a commitment and consistency around policy setting and spaces for learning, to provide training to employees and share resources. Consider language usage around policies and procedures that consider everyone fully. It is insightful for diverse backgrounds to be represented when creating policies. Engage with employees on this.
- CMA: Look inward at how you hire and retain diverse talent. Create affinity groups and provide community within your organization. Have inclusive job descriptions (they/them). Some students with more unique names may not make it through the interview process due to bias, so remove biases. Talk about it on your team, create a plan of attack and look inward. Once a student is hired and part of the team, what are you offering for them?
Marketing and advertising to diverse student populations
- Student Disability Access Office (SDAO): Often times when thinking about diversity we focus on the holy trinity of race, class and gender, but we often forget those with disabilities. Don’t assume these people won’t identify their disability; 20% of the population has a disability. Focus on your language; for example, a lot of job descriptions have “must have a driver’s license”. Do they need a license or an ID? Some may not drive but do have a state ID. If they have to drive as an essential part of the job that is important to note, but if they just need identification then watch the verbiage because you may lose good applicants from this. People with disabilities are committed to and stay with companies longer, and work longer hours. Make sure there is language that is welcoming to people with disabilities; offer reasonable accommodations up front in the job description. Check your biases. If they ask for a reasonable accommodation up front don’t hold that against them as not being able to do the job. Don’t make assumptions about individuals with disabilities. If there is a meet and greet, make sure it is an accessible location. Keep in mind structure of events. Make it clear when they can disclose their disability; if it is an ADA compliant question when can it be addressed?
- Engineering, Intercultural Programs: When thinking about marketing and engagement, be really good at making sure you say names correctly. Educate students on how to correct people when they say it. Make sure that students see themselves reflected in your company, not just a picture on a website. Make sure that you are very transparent about the ways of working that exist in your organization. Group work is a U.S. way of doing things, we come together and work together, but not everyone likes working that way. Make sure the expectation is very clear as this may not be comfortable for someone coming from China. Believe in, demonstrate, live and make your DE&I statement part of your company culture. Be very direct and honest about your current work environment- it could be that you’re trying to change the status. Let them know they may be the only one in the environment who looks the way they do but that you are trying to change it in the right direction.
- Unpaid internships: Consider the hidden costs that students face in your recruiting process. Offering an unpaid internship often limits the pool of qualified candidates.
- Handling events for students with disabilities: Consider the length of time the student needs to be on the camera. For instance, some students with ADHD struggle to be on camera. Don’t judge them when they seem distracted or aren’t talking or as engaged. Be cognizant of not assuming the worst. If someone is cutting someone off or interrupting it could be that this environment is not conducive to their disability. If you are hosting a virtual event, normalize who is attending and think about what you can offer, for example: closed captioning in Google, PowerPoint, etc., or if they are visually impaired it can help to send the slides after the event.
- Overcoming barriers in recruiting processes: Gender identity and expression – standards of professionalism and dress codes. Application materials that make you select a box that doesn’t fit. Mr. and Mrs. assumptions. Facilities provided – gender nonspecific restrooms. Don’t assume and offer gender-specific restroom directions. Allow communication. If there is any part that involves networking, conversations, small talk – then be mindful of the use of humor, slang, acronyms, and colloquial language, particularly over Zoom. These are harder to convey to non-native English speakers, and through virtual avenues. Explain it if you need to use it.
- Student feedback on virtual recruiting: provide access to information and try to build something that benefits our students. Be consistent and connect with students. If you are going to send emails, they should come from an individual rather than the organization to ensure that the message isn’t overlooked or end up in the student’s spam folder.
*Campus Partners represented
- Center for Multicultural Affairs (CMA)
- Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity (CSGD)
- International House (I-House)
- Office of Student Veterans
- Pratt School of Engineering, Intercultural Programs
- Student Disability Access Office (SDAO)
*The Duke Career Center Employer Relations team will remain your main point of contact, and we will be happy to share any resources and materials with our campus partners. Please email your resources/materials or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, identify any particular student groups who should receive the information (we will also share with all students).
Employer Panel and Perspectives: Impactful Virtual Recruiting
Overview of Virtual Recruiting
- In recent years, virtual engagement has made it easier to get in front of candidates earlier and maintain better relationships.
- While most strategies typically tend to be with an in-person presence and a supplemental portion of recruiting being virtual, the decision to transition fully virtual is essential.
- Evaluate, test, and learn to make sure the experiences are still impactful and a value add.
- Focus more on finding candidates who fall into the corporate culture rather than focusing solely on checking off qualification boxes.
- Industries need to build their virtual capacity and not be scared to transfer from in-person to virtual.
Advice for Entering into Primarily Virtual Recruiting
- Communication is key – add tools to your toolkit to make sure there is an increase in engagement without being face to face
- Think outside of the box to allow for more relaxed communication options.
- Virtual communication sometimes feels more formal than in-person recruiting does. Even when someone is at home in their T-shirt videoing in, they are specifically calling to talk to you, which feels more formal than popping by an event.
- Make it a warm and welcoming environment so students will open up by setting the precedence beforehand.
- Communication and structure have to be more in place for a virtual space. When in person, you assume you will see someone and check in, but there has to be more planning when virtual. More structure and communication is best.
- Alchemy and chemistry between people, not just engaging with one person. Throw everyone together once in a while. Not every relationship at work is going to be cohesive but every week change it up for energy and success.
- When engaging with students – think outside of the box from on-campus strategies. You could consider consolidating events over multiple schools to create one cross-campus event that offers more to each campus but puts less on employees.
- Supplement with specific activities for Duke students
- Host casual virtual events that allow for touch points within the company.
- Think about how you can make it interactive even in a virtual space. Breakout rooms in Zoom make it more personal, smaller, more connected and engaging. The raise your hand option in Zoom helps out when things may go astray as it often can with technology.
Specific Strategies for Virtual Recruiting
- To get a good match identify needs and wants – ask for what you need, get samples, offer engagement, and interview candidates well and thoroughly until you find the magic, as you would in person.
- Have clarity in what you are looking for and talk through with partners what exactly they may be looking for in soft and hard skills. It may have nothing to do with GPA but getting a feel for the person and what they are working for.
- Virtual gives less time to meander in conversation so get to the point and ask very honest questions up front.
- Make sure you share what you are looking for in candidates with Career Center partners – take the information outside of your organization to find the best match virtually.
- Virtually you need to be more targeted to who is actually qualified, rather than aiming for an extremely large event. Make it feel special so good candidates don’t get lost.
- Time invested in the hiring process is valuable, but create a clear line of what is expected now and don’t waste time by being seduced by a resume.
- Individual candidate goals should be in alignment with the company goals and team culture. Give people interviews based off of overall alignment, not just background and education. Don’t try to bend objectives to match a person.
- You don’t have as many opportunities to make mistakes because there won’t be as much engagement as on campus – you have to wait for people to reach out to your company instead of actively reaching out to people directly and having accidental encounters such as at a career fair.
- It is extremely important to find someone who is passionate about the technical side – it seems like less experience has been better because they are passionate but not opinionated so it is easier to train people.
- Humility is a nice quality.
- Check candidates through the internet and look for a profile to assist in the process.
Making Virtual Events Engaging
- Coffee Chats will look most similar to in-person, offering one-on-one conversations and deferring to relevant associates to connect.
- For Workshops and Info Sessions, be creative with the breakout room function to allow for closer interaction. Have candidates tell you their area of interest and based off of their selection pre-assign to breakout rooms before the meeting. Have a team of associates on the call to allow for better connection with the team and company.
- Virtual feels more formal by nature so set the expectation before the event occurs that it will be more laid back. Communicate ahead of time what is expected – ask them to come on video if they are comfortable and be ready for a conversational piece.
- Students love the breakout piece more than the presentation piece and typically ask for more time.
- Cap events to manage the number of students and allow for a greater connection.
- Make great partnerships – focus on recent alum that have good connections to campus, share information within their network and organizations they may have been a part of.
- Once you have a conversation with a candidate, set them up with someone in the company that feels like they may be a good fit and have similarities in order to have more of a conversational piece.
- Have both focused events that have fewer people in attendance and some larger scale events to be able to get more engagement with students.
- Partner with affinity groups, tap into brand ambassadors, donate to groups and organizations on campus, meet new presidents and stay connected, advertise events, etc.
Duke Career Center Advisers and Employer Relations Team: Advice on Virtual Recruiting Strategies
Q&A with Greg Victory, Assistant Vice President, Student Affairs and Fannie Mitchell Executive Director:
Career Center Operations this Fall
- We operate within the Division of Student Affairs and are working closely with our partners across the division as we prepare for welcoming students back this Fall. There is a very distinct process how that works and what this might look like.
- For the latest updates on plans for Duke this Fall please visit: https://coronavirus.duke.edu
- The Career Center will be 100% virtual this Fall, and likely will be mostly virtual in the Spring. This fits well into our operations that we have in place. We will be working completely remote in advising and recruiting to keep everyone safe and avoid the spread.
Changes and Opportunities
- Allows for innovation and getting outside of the normal for recruiting to best serve our students.
- Flexibility and accessibility.
- Cross-institution and Duke specific events.
- Cuts down on barriers for students and employers attending events.
- Focus on a coordinated effort with a strong strategy but allows for testing and failure.
- Set yourself apart and be engaging to students.
- Create space and brand recognition in a virtual environment.
Reframe Strategies for Engagement
- What is increasingly more important is your organization’s commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity. Understand what that means and know that students are making decisions around your demonstrated commitment to this.
- Be transparent, and let students envision themselves as a part of the organization.
- Avoid talking to students about fit – this is like asking if they “fit” a specific mold of the type of person that already works there, instead look for students who have the company culture.
- Info Sessions typically provide information that is already accessible on a company’s website, and in a virtual world that is not going to float with students – they will not sit through hour-long sessions on information they already know or can find.
- Come up with creative ways to engage with students: Work with other companies within your industry to talk about trends and changes and what is new and exciting in the industry.
- Coursework and engagement will all be virtual.
- Be a value add
- Be honest with students about where the company is at with hiring
- Stay connected
- Recruiters complain that they don’t hear back from students in a timely fashion, and students agree that not hearing back in a timely fashion from employers is not ideal. Keep fresh and make sure students feel like they will be part of a community – this will spread good word of mouth.
- Students want to find a way to connect with individuals and word will spread quickly if you never get back with them.
- Close the gap – even if it is a quick email to say you went in a different direction.
Support the Career Center
- We can build a strategy together to focus on what you want to achieve and how you can support our students.
- How can we support, help, and guide you and connect you with student groups?
- This is going to significantly change the way we do business together now and in the future.
- Face-to-face engagement is valuable (and what Gen-Z wants) so it will never completely be gone, but recruiting will change drastically in the future to allow for more virtual engagement.
Panel of Employer Relations and Advising Members
Virtual Recruiting Opportunities
- Virtual Interviews, Office Hours, and Information Sessions: The Career Center will continue to schedule and coordinate virtual presentations, interviews, and scheduled or open office hours. You are welcome to utilize your own videoconferencing technology, and we are happy to discuss other options as necessary. Please submit requests for interviews, office hours, and information sessions in Handshake.
- Career Fairs: We will be offering the following virtual fair options during the Fall 2020 semester:
- September 23: Fall Career Fair – Day 1
- October 13: Healthcare and Life Sciences Fair
**Additional information and registration for the Fall Career Fair days and the Healthcare and Life Sciences Fair may be found here. Please note that early registration is encouraged as space is limited at each fair.
- October 29: NC Master’s and Doctoral Career Fair
**Additional information may be found here for this fair. Early registration is encouraged due to space limitations.
- If you have ideas, please feel free to share and talk through them with us so we can best market to our students. You can email our team at email@example.com
- Feedback and communication is so important this upcoming year and helps us define what we offer.
- Diversity and Inclusion event plans are still getting flushed out.
Student Attendance and Engagement
- Don’t just take in-person events and put them online – be ever aware that Zoom fatigue is very real.
- Be creative in what your event looks like and how it engages students.
- Students are looking for connectedness and feeling like they are a part of your organization.
- Do an open house over Zoom with departmental breakouts or offer trivia and other forms of engagement.
- More traditional information sessions can be released outside of an event.
- Record info sessions to allow accessibility across time zones and ensure that students are not missing out by not attending live. Our team will share out more information about this during the start of the recruiting season.
- Engagement can be reframed for you to learn a lot about students as well. Instead of a full info session, allow for engagement throughout and connect in smaller groups (for example: 15-minute rotational sessions).
- Other ideas: multiple-choice questions that pop up during the presentation, breakout rooms, keeping constant engagement, and connection with Duke alumni.
- Think about how you are providing a value add to students. Offer skill-building workshops – for example: case studies, what the job looks like, etc.
- If it is a skill that you require from a student — offer it as a workshop!
- A lot of students hold strong to wanting their name to be known.
- If your company targets Duke for specific roles, include this as part of your event. For example, you could make small breakout rooms so that students have a contact within the company who works in one of these roles that they are also applying to.
Engaging with Student Groups
- For many employers, connecting with student groups is an important part of a recruiting strategy. Arranging all virtual activities will increase opportunities for engagement for companies and for students, and it will remove barriers caused by travel restrictions and health and safety concerns.
- Anticipate that they will want creative connections for professional development and recruitment.
- Not every student is able to engage with student groups, so make it part of your strategy and not your whole strategy.
- Try to co-sponsor events with multiple groups at once instead of one-off engagements.
- Collaborate with our office or combine student groups instead of offering a ton of individual events.
- Brand through engagement! Give students what they need at the moment (resiliency, self-care, wellness) and bring value to our students in a new and exciting way. Example: Sponsor a yoga session where you start with a 15-minute pitch about the company and its value around wellness and self-care and then have a yoga instructor conduct the session.
- Students are wanting exposure to company culture, what the building looks like, what it is like to live in that area/city. Show them everything you can through a virtual aspect and make it part of the interview process.
- Some students have never seen an office building or are unsure and/or curious about working in cubicles.
- Talk about engagement throughout the day, and allow students to see themselves working in that environment.
- Campus analytics challenge.
- Virtual site visits.
Breakout Room Conversation
- Please reach out if you have questions or need us as a resource while planning by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Career Fair in a Virtual Format:
- We are still finalizing our virtual Career Fair platform, but we are planning to use CareerEco, as we have used this in the past. We are keeping the fair small – capping around 50 employers.
- We want to give information to students ahead of time about what companies are there, where they are located, and what they are hiring for. To drive student attendances, give as much information as possible so they are able to have a plan and information upfront.
- There are various ways to go about hosting your booth. Our team can provide more information upon registration.
- Coffee Chats after the fair are a great option to allow students to connect one-on-one – these can be requested through Handshake. This allows for further engagement and longer conversations that aren’t as rushed.
- Outline next steps for the student. Talk to the first person who comes in and let others eavesdrop and offer to follow up. Make it very conversational.
- It is completely up to you how you want to handle LinkedIn engagement, but people respond very well with alumni and alumni groups in specific geographical areas.
- Students would much rather talk to the people who can offer information that they want to know, potentially recruiters but more than likely the person doing the actual job and not just trying to sell the job.
- Important to be able to distinguish who is in what role – interviewer, recruiter, someone in the job, alum, etc. Very helpful virtually as well to know who to connect with.
- Engage with students – for diversity group outreach aim for a larger conversation to get to know the group better and understand their goals in order to best support them. A lot of groups have their own VP dedicated to professional development that can let you know their goals.
- Remember that younger students want to engage as well, so think about the ways you can create these opportunities.
- Take time to build your brand in conjunction with being recruiting-focused.
- Give a tour of the city hotspots, where the candidate will be working, etc. Do a virtual day in the life of what it is truly like to work there.
- FAQs can be found on our website at https://studentaffairs.duke.edu/career/employers.
- Never hesitate to ask if a career advisor can join a recruiting strategy call alongside the Employer Relations team. We would love to collaborate and work together with you to plan and create the best recruiting practices in these new times!
Duke Student Panel: Student Perspectives on Effective Virtual Recruiting Strategies
Career Outlook Since COVID-19
- Will be looking at the way companies have reacted to COVID-19 this past summer in regards to internships and how they supported these students.
- The overall culture and the way they treat their employees, particularly looking after their newest employees, and how they reacted.
- Provide detailed plans that ensure the safety of the employees, also plans for keeping things flowing virtually, and details on how the group will stay connected.
- Exploring different roles through informational interviews to see what fits their background best.
- Expecting employers to have a well thought out plan in place to deal with situations, similar to COVID-19, that arise.
Most Engaging Virtual Events
- Facilitated conversations, particularly in breakout rooms, so people are given a chance to turn their video on and unmute.
- Bring in various roles from each company to talk about their story and how they got into their role, and offer context and a touch point to reach out to set up a call.
- A scripted presentation with something visual.
- Give more of a one-on-one feel with facilitated conversation – allow for a sign up for 10 minutes or so and have questions ready to show what the culture is like and to avoid students sitting awkwardly and not wanting to talk.
- Record large webinars or workshops – Zoom fatigue and things come up at home which may cause someone to miss a presentation live – this will allow for security and access to get the information. This also makes it more accessible to a broader student audience including international students.
Memorable Virtual Connections
- One-on-one conversations have been most impactful on a job search.
- As a virtual intern, it is appreciated when managers/supervisor’s check-in after meetings and allow for human interaction, questions, clarification, etc.
- When recruiters take their time to really sit and talk and have meaningful conversations one-on-one with students.
- Allow for questions about the organization and allow employees to talk on their own experience and work environment.
Effectively Displaying Culture
- Informational one-on-one conversations feel more authentic and less like a paid promotion. Particularly if an alumni is really receptive to emails and LinkedIn invites.
- Clear and candid snapshot of time at an organization.
- Company sharing out contact information and seeming excited and willing to do a 15 minute informational interview.
- Guidelines and expectations before an event to let students know that there will be prompting, and providing some question examples for those 15 minute informational interviews.
- Types of events and how they are promoted – when recruiters reach out specifically to student organizations it speaks largely of what they value by taking that extra step to target those students.
- Smaller space – more face to face conversation.
- Allow more of a connection to the recruiter and company with a sign-up for a timed 15-30 minute Q&A for one-on-one dialogue allowing for more thoughtfully designed questions from students instead of a broad/sudden Q&A at the end of a presentation. This allows students not to get mixed in with everyone else and allows a stronger touchpoint.
What is Attractive in an Organization?
- It is a long term commitment so you have to be thoughtful.
- Smaller organizations that have an impact .
- Having a resource like a mentorship.
- Industry that matches skill set.
- Putting customers first and aligning with values.
- Healthy work environment.
- COVID-19 handling.
- Support of professional development of employees.
Attending a Virtual Event for a Company You Have Never Heard of
- Clarity on the type of event it is going to be – It can be frustrating to just see there’s an event. Is it a presentation? Networking? Casual? Informational? Resume tips? Company and internship highlights?
- Show a timeline for the event – When there is a limited amount of time between classes it is important in order to make an informed decision on the event.
- It needs to be clear how to get to the event, provide a link up front, and let us know who is hosting. Be clear and concise and show what the student will be getting out of it.
- When a trusted advisor recommends an event specifically to a student – an alumni, professors, student groups – and tie backs, tapping into their network.
Social Media for Employers
- The more social media you can use the better – realize where the generation is and how you can use it to reach out to students.
- LinkedIn is most effective to find alumni, recruiters, job postings, etc.
- There is a lot of frustration in trying to find where to actually apply, so make it very clear and concise across all platforms on where to find and apply to opportunities or sign up for events. It is best to have one location so students don’t think it floats out there and never gets reviewed.
- Use social media to broadcast more generally.
- Nice when a company pops up on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram as a reminder and to see what companies are focusing on like Black Lives Matter and other various ways they are handling recent events that have arisen.
- Twitter can be useful.
- Video of the facility, location, what a candidate’s office will look like, etc.
- Advertising through LinkedIn and tapping into student organizations to promote on newsletters.
Duke specific event or multi-school event?
- Info Session (at least 30 minutes or more) – Multi-school would be fine, can be better Duke specific if directly being given to an affinity group.
- There is value in widespread Info Sessions to give very broad information, but a tipping point for getting applications is going to be connection and what it is like to be an employee which comes better in smaller interactions.
- Panels and networking are better at Duke only, especially with alumni.
- Smaller interactions at Duke and hosted in smaller organizations particularly utilizing alumni, past interns, new employees or various students.
- Current students/past interns know how to connect students with companies. Utilize your employees effectively.
- Alumni are not completely necessary but they are a great resource. Students are happy to connect with any employee.
Virtual vs On-Site Employment
- A lot of students have missed out on in-person learning and these internships are valuable to see what the workplace is like. It is going to be a very real option to work remote, so it won’t put people off as much.
- Don’t make people feel so alone in their homes – make the program fit a virtual environment and what that looks like.
- Staying connected, even at home, will make people feel more comfortable to be a part of the company.
- In-person internships allow students to try the city on for size – make sure virtually there is an opportunity to learn about the environment through supplemental on-boarding not only about the company but also what it is like to live in the city, etc.