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S4 E51 | eXpert Tease on Campus Engagement with Stephen Rothberg

Chris Hoyt connects with Stephen Rothberg of CollegeRecruiter.com to talk about how the pandemic has impacted college events and how virtual events are better targeted at middle-of-the-funnel candidates.

Announcer 0:00
Welcome to the CXR channel, our premier podcasts for talent acquisition and talent management. Listen in as the CXR community discusses a wide range of topics focused on attracting, engaging and retaining the best talent. We’re glad you’re here.

Chris Hoyt 0:15
All right, everybody, welcome to CXR eXpert Tease. I’m Chris Hoyt president of CareerXroads, and I’m bringing to you a new segment of our podcast that sits us down for just a few moments with industry leaders to talk about lessons they’ve learned their biggest victories most difficult failures, or just to walk us through step by step how to do something challenging or interesting within our space. Now, the thing worth noting is that these are just about 15 minutes in durations they are an expert tease. So as I mentioned, each of the discussions have focused topics or subjects that were voted on by the talent industry in a CXR conducted a survey that came out earlier this year. So these were areas that multinational recruitment leaders said we’re big concerns for them, and that they wanted to talk about so this included things like DE&I topics, recruiting automation, the old buy versus build challenge, ethics, back to workplace challenges, sourcing, so on, and so on, and so on. So, if you’re with us live, we’re going to encourage everyone to add questions to the chat area of our broadcast throughout the talk. And at the end of the segment, we’ll take a question or two if we’ve got the time. And then we’ll move the rest of the conversations online to the talent talks open and public exchange and you can find that at www.cxr.works/talent talks. So we’ll get on with it. I’m pleased to address today’s topic of college recruiting focus, right. And I’m pretty excited because we’ve got none other than longtime industry friend, Steven Rothberg. Steven is the founder of College Recruiter which believes every student and recent graduate deserves an amazing career. College Recruiter is a job search site for those who don’t know, and it’s used by about two and a half million students. I think I got that right, Steven, and recent grads a year to find part time seasonal internship and entry level jobs. Hi, Steven.

Steven Rothberg, College Recruiter 2:03
Hey, Chris, great to be with you.

Chris Hoyt 2:05
Thanks. So thanks for taking the time to be our guest on this expertise. Now, the topic of course, and you and I sort of touched base on this before, but it’s about increasing campus. And student engagement during a time when in person recruiting for early career and interns is is nearly impossible. And what’s fascinating to me is that we’ve had a number of our members come in, in some meetings this year, and who have said that, surprisingly, the virtual approach and what they’ve had to do from an internship standpoint due to the pandemic has been wildly successful for them. And that’s kind of what got us talking to you about what’s coming up what’s ahead and what we should know. So my question to you is, what do you want to share with our listeners about introducing and managing an employer’s brand? And how that’s been turned upside down with events and virtual career fairs now?

Steven Rothberg, College Recruiter 2:55
Yeah, yeah. Thanks. So, you know, traditionally, college and university recruiting has been done almost exclusively by large organizations, fortune 1000. Companies, government agencies, and other employers that are hiring at scale. Some of them are b2c, you know, with Apple, Google, Facebook, whatever go on campus, the students all know those brands. And the organizations don’t need to tell the students what Google does, for example, a lot of them are our B2B, business to business, or B2G business to government. And those brands definitely do, and always have really needed to educate that audience, those students as to who they are, what they do, and what their roles are. So going on campus and posting information sessions, even on campus, recruit, interviews, career fairs, that’s been a pretty effective way, for a lot of those organizations to do that. You can have a career fair with, you know, 50, employer booths, and 500 students. And the students can kind of walk around and very informally say, you know, what, what do you do, they could even just sort of read the the booth and see that you’re in, you know, data analytics, or intelligence agencies, you know, whatever your business might be. And if they’re interested, they’ll stop by and chat. And if they’re not, they move on. Now that COVID has kind of virtually eliminated on campus recruiting. A lot of organizations felt Well, you know, why don’t we just do the same thing, but online, virtually. And so the answer to that was largely virtual career events. Some people call them virtual career fairs, but I think the word event is better because it isn’t necessarily a multi employer event. So the problem with that is that it’s a significantly greater time commitment for the candidate to register for the event, show up for a zoom call or something like that through handshake or simplicity or whatever, maybe have to spend three minutes, five minutes 10 minutes chatting with a recruiter that neither one of them have any interest in, you know, the format’s are a little bit different. And what we’re all finding is that virtual career events are really, really great for engaging candidates. So if the candidates already interested in your brand, and your opportunities, fantastic, they’ve been really, really bad for most organizations, at creating that interest in what a lot of marketers would call reach that initial introduction to the candidate. And I think it’s just largely a function of we’re all zoomed out. And it’s just not a good medium for taking someone who has zero knowledge about your organization or your roles to someone who’s going to be interested.

Chris Hoyt 5:57
Okay, so let me ask you, I mean, I, you know, I remember virtual. Honestly, the last virtual recruiting concept I participated in, I think, was for veterans, somebody put on a virtual career fair for veterans. And it was about maybe two years ago. So if I’m, if I’m getting ready to take on virtual career events, right, not virtual hire, not virtual career fairs, but virtual career events now, and, and I still haven’t seen anything in two years. What what what am I going to be surprised by? What’s changed? What’ll be different now that is going to really want me to do this for my college candidates for my early career candidates?

Steven Rothberg, College Recruiter 6:35
Yeah. So one thing is, even two years ago, it was pretty rare where you had avatars. But before that you did. So employers that have done virtually none of these virtual career events might be picturing almost like a little cartoony kind of a screen, where exactly, yeah, like second life back 15 years ago, or whatever the heck that was. So I mean, it literally could be a second life environment where each employer has like an island, and they can build houses, and you can have your little, you know, avatar, unicorn or whatever, go and participate in a dance party, but most of them were much more businesslike than that. And you’d have like a little avatar that you could make look like yourself. So you know, if you had, you know, if you’re female and had shoulder length blond hair, and you liked the color pink, you could actually dress like that and make that avatar look like you or not, there was those are pretty rare, even a couple of years ago, now they’re, they tend to be much more video where you would go in and if it’s a multi employer event, you might see the different organizations logos, you click on the logo, you might be able to read sort of some “about us” type information, watch a YouTube video, you can often see the job postings that are available, or at least that the recruiters who are participating in the event are seeking candidates for and then you can almost always text chat. And converse with a recruiter from the recruiters perspective, that’s awfully nice. Because they can carry on a conversation with, you know, 2,3,4,5,6 candidates at the same time, if it’s really busy, and if there’s no one there while they can catch up on their email, or you know, have a cup of coffee or whatever. Some of the platforms also allow for. Um, so bisynchronous video, which is like, like what we’re doing here, essentially where it’s real time video, both people are on video. So if the recruiter wants to, and if the candidate wants to, they can both sort of approve, and their webcams will start and they can have like a five minute interview. That’s great. And what we’re hearing from a lot of large employers is that those are highly effective, you don’t have the travel time to fly halfway across the country. As much as I love staying in a Holiday Inn Express because by morning, I’m an expert in some other field like auto racing or whatever. Um, you know, most most of us who are further into our careers don’t really want to be road warriors, when you’re 22 years old, it’s it’s pretty cool when you’re in your 40s 50s 60s not so much anymore. So it’s a very, very efficient way of interacting with a large number of candidates. But for most organizations, it’s a really ineffective way. It does it you save a lot of time, but you don’t end up hiring people. Again, exceptions to that if you’ve got a really strong business to consumer brand, then those rules don’t apply, but most organizations just don’t. There are That many apples out there.

Chris Hoyt 10:02
So if I’m a student and I go to a virtual event like this, it’s essentially virtual chat rooms, for lack of a better phrase that I can jump into, and chat with, you know, somebody from Lowe’s or somebody from Disney or somebody from, you know, Nike, that kind of thing. And if I’m the recruiter, it’s kind of like Professor hours, right? I’m sitting in there just sort of waiting for somebody to walk in and connect with me. Right?

Steven Rothberg, College Recruiter 10:26
Yeah. And if that students, so you know, let’s say University of Texas, Austin is hosting a career event, and they’re 600 students who are connected, and you’re the employer from an engineering company that does bridge work, you’re not going to have any idea that there are 600 students in there. So you know, you can’t sort of sit there and try to corral people to come and talk to you, they either choose to show up and ask to speak with you or not. And so the experience of those employers like an engineering kind of firm is is just not been great through the school hosted events, I think a much better way for that kind of organization, is to think of a virtual career event as being middle of the funnel. It’s not where you first interact with the candidate. Once you’ve already interacted, maybe they’ve applied on your ATS, they’ve, they got an email from, you know, a list that you own, or you rent, or they’ve applied to a job posting or something like that. But once there’s already some engagement, they’ve raised their hand, they said, you know, Chris, I’m interested in working with your company, maybe I’ve applied, maybe I haven’t applied. At that point. If I was that employer, I would do a single person, a single organization event, I would host my own, whether that’s through one of the school platforms, or whether that’s through one of the there are dozens of great virtual career event platforms out there now or even just zoom Google meet, you know, something along those lines?

Chris Hoyt 12:02
Yeah, well, I think that’s a really good call out the middle of the funnel piece, right? So instead of just waiting for people to find you in this virtual environment, and I’m having flashbacks of an early point, in my career, when I would stand in a giant gymnasium at a table with a tablecloth and pens, or tchotchkes to hand out, just hoping somebody would come by. It’s a horrible way to recruit. So I think it’s a really good call out so so Steven, we’ve got a question. It and I think it’s a great question, it’s a really good one for us to go out on is. So if you’re saying that there aren’t a lot of hires that are made this way? What is one thing that an employer can do to boost engagement at something like this? Like what is what is one thing they can do to sort of get the attention or boost the typical or expected engagement that they might get at something like this? Otherwise?

Steven Rothberg, College Recruiter 12:50
Yeah, what what we’re seeing with some employers is that either through the schools that they’ve partnered with, or through a third party, a job board, it could be ours, it could be um, you know, some Fairy God Boss me What what? Fairy Godmother fairy God, Boss, we don’t, but whatever, whatever your job board of choice is, or other media platform, it could be ads on Facebook, it could be YouTube videos, but whatever. Something to catch the attention of that candidate, that initial reach that initial activation, is what we call it internally, when in our marketing campaigns, and drive them to some kind of a landing page that’s going to differ employer to employer, it’s going to differ based upon their budgets, their resources, their philosophies about recruiting, we see some organizations driving them to a talent pool or talent community, which doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s talent, and it certainly doesn’t mean that there’s community but that’s another story for another day. But those are effective, you can then have as an employer, maybe once every two weeks, once a month, you can email all those people who are in your CRM, who are in your talent community who are in your ATMs and basically say, Hey, we’re hosting a virtual career event sign up here. I think that that’s an incredibly effective and efficient way for a recruiter or hiring manager to help those candidates move along the hiring path, right? Because there’s a big difference between somebody who has applied and somebody who’s hired, a lot of times, even if they’re being interviewed, they still have questions. They still want to be reassured that they that you’re still interested in them and that they want to tell you that they’re still interested in you. Maybe something big has changed. Maybe your CEO just got fired. And you need to go and reassure 20,000 applicants that it’s cool You know, that was planned. And you know,

Chris Hoyt 15:04
We didn’t, like him anyway, it’s okay.

Steven Rothberg, College Recruiter 15:05
Yeah.

Chris Hoyt 15:06
Steven, I love that I think what we’re talking about is bringing in some traditional recruiting tactics and marketing tactics into the realm of college where historically we’ve just kind of gone out and hit the campuses like crazy. So I think that’s great. And and I think this is the evolution of, and we talked about this offline. This is the evolution of career fairs. I think the old school career fairs are dying. And it’s it’s time for this stuff to sort of evolve and grow up. So Steven, I want to thank you again for your time and for sharing these insights with us. Really appreciate that today. Now, for everybody on the line. anybody listening, just a reminder that next week, October 22, we’re meeting with Danielle Monahan, who is the VP of global talent mobility at Uber, and she’s going to share how they retained and mobilized a recruiting team this year and managed to deliver some pretty impressive and sustainable positive results across the board. So until then, if you’ve got more questions for Steven, you want to catch up on this and follow up we do have some questions we didn’t get a chance to get to we want everybody to go to CXR.works/talenttalk. Steven, thanks again.

Steven Rothberg, College Recruiter 16:10
Thank you and I will answer all those

Chris Hoyt 16:12
Thanks for listening to the CXR channel please subscribe to CXR on your favorite podcast resource and leave us a review while you’re at it. Learn more about CXR at our website CXR.works facebook.com and twitter.com /careerxroads and on Instagram @careerxroads. We’ll catch you next time