Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), the largest annual conference for women in tech, is a great way for recruiters to connect with a large number of passionate candidates from across the globe, build their brand and grow a strong pipeline of female talent for in-demand roles, and make real progress on their Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) efforts. And that includes reaching thousands of early career professionals.
Last year, GHC, (which was hosted virtually), brought together nearly 30,000 females from more than 90 countries to learn from experts in the tech industry, build their professional networks, and interview for internships and jobs at innovative companies. And those numbers are only expected to grow.
While the conference attracts women in tech at every stage in their careers, last year nearly one in five attendees were early-career professionals. That’s a lot of young talent prime for connecting with. Plus, GHC offers complimentary registration for women from underrepresented groups, which means you’ll be able to converse with a diverse slate of female candidates at the conference as well.
As you are gearing up to attend GHC this month either in person or virtually, here’s what you need to know to make the most of your time before, during, and after the conference, and to form meaningful relationships with early career talent that extends beyond the Expo Hall.
Before the Conference: Kickstart Your Outreach & Set Your Goals
There are a lot of companies for both in-person and virtual conference attendees to meet with this year — and you should expect that students and early career professionals will be planning ahead to ensure they can squeeze in some face-time with every organization they are hoping to talk to, in addition to reserving time to explore new companies.
One way to get on students and early career professional’s radar and let them know you’ll be at GHC this year is to take to social media to announce that you’ll have a presence at the conference. You may also want to showcase the roles you’re looking to fill to allow candidates time to prepare themselves to inquire about those opportunities in real time.
You can also use your social media channels to point interested candidates to a link to fill out with their information so you can keep an eye out for them at the conference or schedule a 1-on-1 meeting, and allow them to upload their resume to your site. This will both allow candidates to pencil you into their busy schedules, and allow you time to vet talent for your open roles ahead of time.
Pro Tip: To reach students searching for the conference on social media sites such as LinkedIn or Twitter, use relevant hashtags such as: #ghc22 #gracehopper22 #nextisnow #womenintech #womeninscience #inclusivetech
You’ll also have access to a host of information on conference attendees before the conference via GHC’s Resume Database. It would be worthwhile to sift through that resource before the event to flag any candidates who might be a great fit for your roles, and reach out to those candidates ahead of time to set up a chat or interview at the conference. RippleMatch can assist recruiters in organizing information from the database, and flagging candidates who are good fits for certain roles. Plus, with RippleMatch promising early career candidates will also be added to a company’s talent network within the platform, and can seamlessly be invited to future recruitment events or to apply for roles.
Like any event you host or attend, it’s also important to set goals beforehand to help you collect data on how successful the event was, and what you can improve upon for next time. For example, you can set targets for how many interviews you schedule during the event, how many applications you receive from conference attendees, and how many hires come from the conference.
And of course — don’t forget to send or pack everything you need for the conference, including your booth materials and a computer, iPad, or notepad to collect candidate information as you meet them throughout the conference. Plus, make sure you have enough branded materials for attendees to parade around the conference to help you market your brand across the Expo Hall.
During the Conference: Build Your Talent Pipeline & Collect Candidate Information
Whether or not you arranged to conduct formal interviews with select candidates at the conference, GHC is a great opportunity to add new faces to your talent network. And while it’s nice a conference perk to begin to send candidates through your hiring process in real time, remember that it’s not all about how many job offers you can fill at the conference. It’s about building a strong pipeline of female talent.
During the Expo Hall and throughout the conference you should be focused on serving as a friendly face to promote your brand, and collecting information for post-conference follow-up.
Professionals earlier in their careers may be intimidated by the opportunities and slew of recruiters in front of them, so be sure to welcome them to the conference, ask them how they are doing, and take the time to learn more about them before jumping into your pitch. A great way to gauge which attendees are students or early career professionals is to ask them what they are looking to gain at the conference this year — which will inevitably let you know where they are in their professional journeys.
Once it is an appropriate time to promote your open roles, be sure that your marketing materials specifically address early career talent and the ways your company will support younger workers as they jumpstart their careers. Since GHC is aimed at women, be sure you also highlight female-focused opportunities such as the ability to connect with a female mentor or ERGs that support women in the workplace.
Regardless of whether a student or early career professional expresses an interest in one of your roles, is a good fit for any of your open opportunities right now, or is even looking for an internship or job at the moment, you should be collecting their information — and giving them yours too. That way when it does come time for them to begin applying for internships and jobs, you’ll be top of mind and have opened the door for them to reach out to you.
There are a few options when it comes to how you can collect student information during GHC:
- You can have a notepad at the conference where students can write down their name and email, and collect their resumes (attendees are advised to bring paper copies in addition to downloadable PDFS). This method isn’t ideal, as it can be difficult to read candidates’ handwriting, and it will take time to transcribe contact info after the conference.
- You can have a laptop at your booth where students can type in their information and a link or email when they can upload or send a digital copy of their resume.
- You can carry around a portable device, such as an iPad, where you can collect student info both at your booth and as you walk around the conference center.
- With RippleMach Events, you can check candidates in on the platform via a computer, iPad, or mobile device, and add them to your talent network in real time.
Another important task to keep in mind as you connect with professionals during the conference is to take notes about your conversations to use in follow-up emails after the conference. For example, you will want to remember what a candidate says she is looking for, your initial impression of the candidate, and any specific details you can leverage in the future to invite her to apply for roles. With RippleMatch, you can take notes about candidates directly in the platform, and flag them for fit during your conversation.
You may also want to ask candidates who you would like to connect more with to meet again later on in the conference in a quieter setting. With Chats, a feature of RippleMatch, you can schedule a future 1-on-1 or coffee chat directly on the platform by sharing a booking link with talent, and sync the event to both of your calendars.
After the Conference: Follow Up With Candidates & Evaluate Success
Don’t make the mistake of letting all your work leading up to and during the conference go to waste by not following up with everyone you interacted with during GHC. This is where a strong nurture strategy comes into play.
Pro Tip: While you should craft a plan to stay connected with those candidates you did have conversations with during the conference, you will also want to build relationships with those you did not get to talk to, but flagged in the resume bank as good candidates.
Here are some of elements to include in your nurture strategy:
- For those candidates who you did speak with, send them an email shortly after the event expressing your excitement about meeting them, and include some details about what you talked about at the conference. Be sure to end with a call to action (CTA), whether that’s arranging another time to talk, inviting them to a recruitment event (especially if it’s an event geared at female candidates), or sending them an application.
- For those candidates you didn’t get a chance to connect with, send them an email apologizing for not being able to meet, but mention that you were impressed by their resume. End with a CTA as well, such as setting up an informal chat.
- Don’t stop at one email. Be sure to stay in touch with your new contacts throughout the recruiting season and beyond by checking in on their job search progress, inviting them to events, and sharing open positions they might be interested in.
- You may also want to connect with candidates on LinkedIn so you can stay updated as their resumes change, and so that they can follow along as you post on behalf of your company.
- With RippleMatch, you can send emails to standout and untapped candidates directly through the platform, and filter who receives invitations to apply for roles by whether they would be a good fit.
Another important post-event follow up is analyzing the data you collected during the conference so you can already get a head start on planning for next year. In addition to analyzing the costs associated with the conference, you’ll want to answer questions such as: How many early career professionals did I speak to at the conference? How many of the follow-up emails that I sent received a response? How many connections that I made led to an application, interview, or hire, even months out?
You should also take note during the conference of what your competitors offered that seemed to attract candidates. Were they circling the expo hall with iPads for collecting information? Did something at their booth draw a lot of attention? This can also be a good time to evaluate whether you’re leveraging the proper technology to support your recruitment efforts such as attending GHC, like RippleMatch.
There will be plenty of wide-eyed early career talent roaming the halls of GHC this year. To truly squeeze the most out of this year’s conference, and build the strongest pipeline of talent, you’ll need to have a plan in place to both connect with and nurture female professionals. That includes letting students know you’ll be at the conference and setting goals ahead of time, collecting candidates information during the conference, and following up with candidates with action items after the conference is over. With a strategy in place, you’ll be able to determine what went well this year, and how to improve upon your methods to welcome in even more female tech talent next year. Learn more about how RippleMatch can help you get the most out of recruitment events here.