In any given month or year, a recruiter could quite easily fill their time going to events. You could avoid your office for several, if not all, days of the week going to conferences, breakfast briefings, networking events, community meet-ups and so on.
What does this actually achieve though, for the recruiter or the recruitment industry supplier? Are the events just the same people, showing up at the same places, hearing the same things and rounding the day off with a warm beer?
It feels like the traditional recruitment conference is becoming a thing of the past. Are recruitment events a dying breed?
Let’s think about why recruiters head to events in the first place. Earlier this month the ISV team headed to In-House Recruitment Live. It was a chance to showcase our candidate testing to potential customers as well as catch up with in-house recruiters we already work with. We couldn’t help but notice that most delegates had the same agenda. They came for the speakers, in between that they either chatted to colleagues they had come with or were engrossed in their phone, keen to keep up with the constant ping of emails and notifications.
Yes, we had reasonable footfall on our stand. We met some good people and have a healthy amount of leads to follow up. However, traffic is definitely down at events compared to the hey-day of recruitment conferences.
What’s in it for the recruiter?
Ask why any recruiter leaves their office for a conference these days and they will most likely rate the seminars and speakers as the top reason. It’s no surprise really since you can have in the region of 30 subjects to choose from in just one day. You can opt for talks on business growth, tips for candidate attraction, the latest employment law updates or training on the latest search and sourcing techniques.
The popular speakers don’t just cover recruitment topics. At TREC (the REC’s flagship conference) earlier this year Jo Youle, CEO of charity Missing People was the highlight with her TEDx style talk. Similarly, TEAM invited a pilot from the Red Arrows to talk at their annual conference about mindset and performance.
A blend of inspirational talks mixed with opportunities for learning means the recruiters go home feeling like they’ve got good value from the day.
A few newer events are popping up too. These have embraced more of the hipster/ fun factor for their recruitment audience. Whether you find these innovative and refreshing or you want to run a mile from the street food, festi-feel vibe, there is no denying they are attracting visitors.
On top of the speakers and post-event shenanigans, these events are usually free, and of course, the delegates can stock up on a year’s worth of stationery and other branded ‘goodies’.
What’s in it for the recruitment supplier?
It would be easy to max out your marketing budget on events. On just one conference you could find your spending towards the 5-figure bracket without much trouble. Is the cocktail bar, VR game or candy floss machine worth it?
Recruiters (please don’t call them punters) can generally see through this. Yes, you might get a business card in exchange for a notebook but spending big bucks on gimmicks isn’t the way to guarantee ROI.
The corporate look and feel seem to be out too. It’s no longer sharp suits that are the norm but the more approachable branded polo shirt and Converse look.
To make a recruitment event work, it’s not just what happens on the day. It’s the pre-event marketing, personally inviting people to meet you and getting involved on the day. It’s your job to know what the buzz in the room is about, what (or who) have people come to see, and what are the talking points.
After that, it’s over to you and all about the follow-up.
The next big recruitment event on the calendar is the Recruitment Agency Expo at Birmingham’s NEC on 3rd and 4th October. Our friends from Boomerang will be there for the duration, ISV will also be there with our sister company Voyager Software because we’re not prepared to let the recruitment events go just yet.
No pressure Rec Expo team but let’s make it one to remember!
Contributor Amanda Davies of ISV online.