Find success with virtual campus recruiting
During the covid-19 pandemic, firms, colleges, and universities moved many traditional aspects of recruiting — including “Meet the Firm” evENTs, career fairs, and interviews — online. as virtual recruiting is likely here to stay, recruiters say, firms should still consider it part of their hiring strategy even once the pandemic is over.
Virtual recruiting has certain advantages. Among other things, virtual sessions are a lot easier to schedule than in-person evENTs. Many traditional Meet the Firm nights at universities have been one-time opportunities, noted Jacob T. Crowley, CPA, assistant professor of accounting at Ohio Northern University in Ada. “Now we’re able to allow firms to schedule information sessions whenever the company has the availability,” he said.
Virtual recruiting is also efficiENT in terms of time and money, said Mike Theobald, director of career services at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo. Firms do interviews from their offices and avoid the cost of overnight or longer trips, making it possible to involve more firm members.
It also allows firms to recruit from a brOAder and more diverse pool of studENTs. When evENTs are held online, there are no geographic limits to prevENT firms and studENTs from getting involved, said Molly Davis, BKD CPas and Advisors campus recruiting manager, in Springfield, Mo. The virtual platform that BKD uses for virtual recruiting has allowed the firm to stretch its branding outside its former geographic footprint and reach campuses where it may not have spENT as much time in the past, she said.
Though virtual recruiting has its advantages, on-campus recruiting will still remain a core part of firms’ strategies. Online evENTs can’t quite substitute for the connections made face-to-face. “In-person campus evENTs build strong connections and good rapport with future interns and hires,” said Kaylan Vrana, campus recruiter at BKD in Kansas City and Des Moines. On campus, firm representatives can connect with someone they run into in a hallway or make an impromptu appointmENT to meet for coffee with a promising person, while connecting through an online evENT by necessity must be more intENTional, she said.
Karli Azar, talENT and acquisition senior associate at Somerset CPas and Advisors in Indianapolis, does not find virtual recruiting as effective as traditional methods. She saw fewer studENTs coming to virtual career fairs, and believed it was mainly because of the stress and Zoom fatigue associated with the pandemic. “I think they are overwhelmed,” she said. Vrana said that, while her firm’s recruiting efforts were successful overall, she also observed lower attendance at virtual evENTs.
In years to come, firms may adopt a hybrid apprOAch that retains the convenience and efficiency of online efforts but also involves in-person interaction. How it shapes up will depend on firm resources and priorities. For instance, recruiters might prefer to hold in-person interviews to get to know candidates better, but opt for virtual ones during busy recruiting times or when recruiting a studENT at a distant school.
Tips for virtual recruiting success
Firms and university representatives offered this advice for enhancing virtual recruiting efforts:
BKD conducted a live online rOAdshow that allowed studENTs to choose to “visit” and learn about offices around the country via Zoom or GoToWebinar, with the ENTire firm pitching in to highlight its culture. The firm has also used Zoom and Microsoft Teams to build camaraderie among smaller groups of interns in the same office or from offices around the country.
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— Anita Dennis is a financial writer based in New Jersey. To commENT on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Courtney Vien, a JofA senior editor, at Courtney.Vien@aicpa-cima.com.