Employer Information Session
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What Is an Employer Information Session?
An employer information session is an opportunity for current employees to present details about their organization to prospective candidates. The typical audience for an info session is university students, and this article approaches this topic with that in mind. However, employers could choose to use a similar event to share information with anyone interested in job opportunities.
The concept of an info session is extremely flexible and can be used in different ways depending on the company. There are, however, some things that should be part of any info session. These include (1) available or upcoming job opportunities and (2) company culture and differentiating factors to help a candidate determine if the company is a good fit for them.
As long as you plan to check both of those core boxes, the rest of the details depend on your organization. You can choose the number and job titles of employees presenting, topics to share and discuss, whether to hold remote or in-person sessions, the overall focus, and many other details depending on the message you want to send to potential candidates.
Why Is an Employer Information Session Important?
Attracting the most talented candidates can make a significant difference in a company’s ability to design and execute great business strategy. Information sessions are an opportunity to sell your organization as the best fit for the right talent.
- Information. First and foremost, prospective candidates attend an information session because they want just that: information for a better understanding of what the company has available and what the experience of working there is like.
- Persuasion. In addition to providing information, information sessions are designed to convince the right people that you have relevant opportunities for them, and filling one of those roles with your company is a better career move than taking the same job elsewhere.
- Relationships. An underappreciated purpose of these presentations is the opportunity to spark personal connections with job seekers before, during and after the formal session. Personal interactions can be the most significant draw for the best talent, and they are a critical differentiator for the recruiting process, particularly if you are a small organization or don’t have name brand recognition.
Tips for a Successful Employer Information Session
An information session can actually be somewhat high-stakes. If it goes well, you may see interest in your available job opportunities skyrocket. If it does not, you could shoot yourself in the foot and make potential candidates less certain about you as a viable option. Keep the following tips in mind as you prepare for a successful interaction.
Tip 1: Be Prepared
We’ll start with the most basic tip of all. Some company representatives assume they can walk into an info session with a slide deck created by someone else and talk effectively about their experience with the company. Given the importance of getting these interactions right, winging it is not a good move regardless of how well you know your company or how many past info sessions you have conducted. Preparing with the specific university and functional area you are recruiting for in mind can help you better differentiate your company’s offerings. If there are multiple people presenting, something as simple as smooth handoffs between topics can make a difference in attendees’ perceptions of you. While being prepared from a technical standpoint (whether you need to sign into Gmail on a local computer to access a slide deck, or share a video via Zoom) will not make your company stand out, running into preventable technical glitches in the middle of the session won’t look good.
Tip 2: Make it Interactive and Interesting
Possible topics to include are listed later in this article, but it is important to remember that getting the right content is only half the battle. Interacting in a way that makes that information exciting and applicable to the audience (rather than just another “death-by-PowerPoint” lecture or long talk) is the other half. Using trivia and swag giveaways throughout the session is an effective way to engage with job seekers. Inviting questions occasionally throughout the session and more extensively at the end is simple but critical. Including discussion about the presenters’ personal experiences working for your company and developing their careers can help potential candidates see themselves stepping into the presenters’ shoes. Finally, creative practices (such as dividing into smaller groups for a more personal interaction with your representatives for portions of the session), can help make the experience memorable and contrast nicely with more traditional formats other companies are likely to use. Put effort into determining a highly-engaging format rather than just sharpening up your trusty slides.
Tip 3: Send the Right Advocates
Several details should be considered as you determine who will represent the company in the info session. First, do you have at least one employee presenting who is charismatic, likable, and will draw in talented people? Send someone who makes session attendees think, “I could work in a company with these kinds of people.” This doesn’t mean that you should only send highly extroverted, vocal, excitable representatives. It means you should be sure that the employees selling your opportunities can naturally build relationships to get talented job seekers excited about what you have to offer in a relatively short interaction.
Second, at least one representative should have something specific in common with the audience in question. For example, if you are presenting on a university campus and have alumni working at your company, one or a few of them should be involved. It helps paint a picture of how someone’s journey can go from where students currently are to enjoying a successful career with your company. This can also extend to sending a diverse group of employees so that the team is representative of many characteristics and people of various genders and races. This can help broaden the appeal of your organization to a more diverse group of job seekers.
Third, consider the appropriate number, levels, and functions of presenters. For example, if you are hiring for computer engineering roles, sending one recruiter at a coordinator level is not going to be impressive. They will be unable to answer many of the questions good candidates might ask about available opportunities. Regardless of how fantastic the recruiter is, attendees are likely to see this as a signal that your company is not investing in building relationships with them. Sending eight people, on the other hand, might be both overwhelming and unnecessary, and may set the stage for a long, rambling info session. Finding a happy medium is critical. In this scenario, a good solution could be to bring a recruiter, a recent graduate of a computer engineering program (preferably from the school at which you are presenting), and a more senior-level computer engineering professional (like a hiring manager for some of the available roles). This will likely result in the recruiter easily covering HR and application process questions, the recent graduate providing insight regarding the transition from school to this particular workplace, and the higher-level employee giving detail on what they look for in an ideal candidate and the long-term experience of working at the company.
Tip 4: Give a Clear Call to Action
Info session presenters should never end without specifying something that interested potential candidates can do to continue the interaction. This keeps momentum building with good candidates and it also helps to draw in those who are proactive and truly interested. Job seekers will also expect a specific action they can take, even if it is simply applying for a job. Conducting an info session without having a job posting open or providing some next step is not likely to boost your recruiting efforts.
There are many possible calls to action. The least engaging call is sharing current job openings and inviting candidates to apply online as soon as possible. Again, it is helpful to have relevant jobs open, but that’s table stakes. More engaging is sending presenters who will provide their contact information for LinkedIn or email and invite interested job seekers to reach out to continue the conversation.
There may be other, more creative methods as well. For example, you could ask attendees to share their contact information and areas of interest in an online form at the end of the session and follow up with all who do so in some unique way (with swag items, an offer for a call with a leader in their function of interest, or the names and contact information of those who presented).
Tip 5: Be Authentic and Realistic
While an information session should absolutely be a sales pitch, it should be a fully defensible one. Selling a utopic vision can lead new hires to expect perfection, and when imperfections inevitably show up in their day-to-day experience, the contrast between their unrealistic expectations and the flawed reality of the work can lead employees to leave far earlier than they might have otherwise. This turnover comes with significant financial and time costs. It is therefore more effective to be both enthusiastic about the good and upfront about any systemic challenges that new employees will come across. Charismatic and likable presenters at info sessions can be a huge difference-maker. But that personality must be balanced with realism and authenticity.
Tip 6: Take Advantage of Pre- and Post-Session Opportunities
It can be tempting for a busy recruiter or hiring manager to show up at the scheduled session time and leave immediately afterward for other meetings. But companies whose representatives prioritize being available to job seekers, particularly after the session has ended, stand out far above those whose people rush out after a session to catch the next flight. For on-campus events, strategically planning to be available earlier than the scheduled info session can provide opportunities to build relationships with motivated students who show up early and faculty, staff and administrators who may help their top students develop an interest in your organization. Do not waste an opportunity to build relationships by being too structured and limited with your time around the info session.
What to Cover in an Employer Information Session
There are endless topics you could choose to include in an info session. Look for ways to provide information and structure the session in a way that stands out from other employers. Some of the items listed below are necessary, such as giving a basic company overview, discussing company culture to some extent and sharing specific available and upcoming opportunities. Other items will depend on what you believe your strongest sales pitch to be and where you want to focus the conversation. Ultimately, you should be prepared to discuss any of the following in response to possible attendee questions.
- Basic company overview. This should cover mission, products/services, overall strategy, location(s), interesting history, etc.
- Company culture. This will include values, unique aspects of day-to-day work experience, ways the company develops its employees, etc.
- Overview of the functional area. If the session is specific to a particular area of the business, it should include information on the structure of that function and possibly overarching insight on the strategy and types of work.
- A day in the life of an employee. Presenters who are already in or leading the roles you are recruiting for can share details about their experiences and the types of projects they are working on.
- Diversity, equity, inclusion, and/or involvement in social justice initiatives. How your company creates a space where everyone remains professional while bringing their whole selves to work, or an overview of how the company has responded to difficult, highly-charged subjects such as racial and gender equity, COVID-19, etc. are important subjects to discuss. These are becoming common questions from job seekers.
- Sustainability. You might share how your company handles its business in an environmentally friendly way that ensures the organization will be able to continue operating well long-term. This is also becoming a more common concern among job seekers.
- Available and/or upcoming opportunities. Share specific job openings, preferably those that are available to apply to right now.
- Interview and job process insights. Share what the application and interview process will look like so students know what to expect.
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Tyler is an HR professional-turned-career advisor. After earning a master’s in HR and an MBA, he completed several development rotations while working for a Fortune 100 financial services and insurance company. After gaining experience in HR project management, data and analytics, and as an HR business partner, he decided the right next move was a transition into higher ed and career services. He now provides career support for students in a top-ranked supply chain management program at a large Tier 1 university, but maintains a love for the field of HR and an interest in seeing HR professionals succeed and push the envelope!
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