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How Virtual Recruiting Doubles Early-Career Renege Rates

by | Jan 17, 2022 | Reneges

The days of recruiting strictly on campus are over. 

According to a survey conducted by LinkedIn, 81% of talent professionals agree that virtual recruiting will continue after the COVID-19 pandemic. And 70% believe that recruiting will become the “new standard” for sourcing top candidates. 

Virtual recruiting has — and will continue to — change the landscape of early-career hiring. The past two years quickly taught recruiters and other HR professionals that tactics that capture students’ attention on campus don’t necessarily translate online. 

Instead, recruiters need to adapt their strategy to offer the same, one-to-one personalization within a virtual environment. If not, companies risk incoming candidates on an already-accepted job offer, which can double the cost of hiring a new candidate. In fact, with the average recruitment-to-start-date timeline widening to eight months, early career job seekers are keeping their options open — even after signing on the dotted line.

This week, Scholars co-founder Parker Pell went live on LinkedIn to share how to leverage virtual recruiting to transform your early-career candidate experience. Below, we share his tips on how to approach virtual recruiting through a candidate’s lens and ultimately decrease your renege job offer rate.

How to Transform a Virtual Recruiting Strategy Into a Personalized Experience 

Before your team plans your next virtual recruiting event, ask yourself, “Just what are we hoping to get out of this?” Your pre-determined goals will map out how you structure your strategy. 

Today, most recruiters aren’t concerned about finding more job candidates — instead, they’re concerned about finding the right candidates. To narrow your attendee pool to the most highly-engaged top talent, you’ll need to rethink how you approach your event. 

For starters, don’t try to draw a mass audience, which can limit engagement amongst attendees. Instead, set a maximum cap at 10-20 candidates, which opens the floor to accept questions and feedback from each applicant. Doing so allows you to initiate those same, one-to-one conversations you once held at an in-person career fair, within a virtual space.

In addition, look for innovative ways to offer a fresh, candidate experience on a virtual platform. For example:

  • Offer technical development classes: Invite someone from your IT, customer service, marketing, or other department to teach a specific skill, then apply it to a real-world problem. This offers a glimpse into the day-to-day operations at the company, and what skills the candidates should expect to utilize.
  • Offer a mental health event: While 96% of CEOs believe they are doing “enough” to support employees’ mental health, only 69% of employees agree. Prove to top candidates that you are committed to wellness, offering a meditation session, 15-minute yoga flow, or talk to promote mental health awareness.

4 Ways to Tailor Virtual Recruiting to Early Career Job Seekers 

If you want to attract a top talent pool of early career job seekers, your strategy needs to reflect the values of Gen Z — not those of past generations. 

At Scholars, we analyze insights from a network of 25,000+ early career job seekers each week to understand which traits they look for within a potential employer — and their answers might surprise you. Based on past and ongoing conversations, top applicants value: 

1. Take a Hybrid Approach

According to a survey conducted by Slack, only 11.6% of employees state they want to return to in-person work full-time. You need to operate under the assumption that some — or even a majority — of your top candidates feel the same about the recruiting cycle.

Stay flexible and offer hybrid recruiting events, delivering both in-person and virtual options. Therefore, the candidate — not the potential employer — gets to decide which option works best for their living situation, health, and learning preferences. 

2. Facilitate Connections Amongst Cohorts 

It can be tough to create meaningful connections when tossed into a video chat with two-dozen-plus people. Therefore, look for opportunities to foster connections between interns and entry-level applicants within the same cohort before, during, and after your virtual event. Create ice breakers, encourage coffee chats, or even sponsor a happy hour (for the 21+, of course). 

3. Follow-up Weekly 

Your virtual event should be the beginning — not the end — of your conversation with top candidates. Make it a best practice to communicate weekly from the first time an applicant interacts with your brand (e.g. a virtual career fair) to their first day on the job. Create and enroll candidates in a Scholars journey, inviting applicants to coffee chats, sending a recommended reading list, or even inviting candidates to get a jumpstart on their onboarding materials. 

4. Tailor Your Employer Branding Content Strategy to the Individual 

As you develop content for your broader, employer branding value prop, ask yourself, “Does this content translate to early-career candidates?” If not, you may need to make some changes.

At Scholars, we find that early-career job seekers are most interested in:

  • Personal, upward career growth and mobility within a given position
  • The day-to-day life within a hybrid or virtual working environment, and how the employer utilizes both for increased productivity and work-life balance 
  • How the company drives innovation in their respective industry, and how candidates can contribute to the brand’s overall success in the future 
  • How the company balances both personal and professional aspirations, as the individual balances finances, family, and their career

You can leverage this abbreviated list to create a candidate journey — from first touch-point to day one on the job. Candidate journeys can be segmented by department, seniority level, or other traits, then personalized for each individual applicant. 

Keep Top Candidates Engaged — From Virtual Event to Their First Day 

Hopefully, your virtual recruiting process results in (multiple) signed offer letters to top, early-career candidates. But how do you keep these candidates engaged throughout the onboarding process, preventing them from reneging on their offer?

To ensure top talent sticks with you through their first day on the job, keep these tips in mind: 

  • A keep-warm strategy is not enough: Instead, you need to keep candidates “warm” by tailoring each candidate journey to the individual. Use your Scholars platform to build personas for top talent, creating custom workflows for each applicant.
  • Building a community is key: You must manage your community of interns and entry-level candidates to make it successful. Create a social events calendar, pair candidates off to partake in coffee chats, and offer pointers on how to make connections within the group.
  • Stay empathetic to your candidates’ mindset: Many interns and entry-level candidates may have anxiety regarding their first role. Keep communication lines open, and make it clear you have their back. 
  • Offer “water cooler” conversation starters: People are more likely to spark a conversation when prompted by a question or topic. Offer quirky questions to spark engagement, asking candidates a favorite hobby or travel experience. 

Adapt Your Recruiting Strategy to Capitalize Off Virtual Experiences 

Throughout the past two years, virtual recruiting changed the early-career hiring industry as a whole. Through virtual events, ongoing content, and feedback from top applicants, industry leaders have sought to provide a better candidate experience within an online environment. 

As you continue to shape your virtual or hybrid recruiting strategy, you’ll need to ask yourself the question, “How can I create a personalized candidate journey at scale?” Through Scholars, you can create individualized workflows that send tailored content to each candidate. Plus, you can help foster a community amongst your team of interns and entry-level candidates, building connections before they even arrive on their first day. 

For more tips on how to recruit top early-career candidates, check out our resources for employers or join our Slack community at

About Scholars

Scholars helps companies build engaging candidate experiences at scale. Create personalized journeys for all of your candidates from application through onboarding.

About Scholars

Internships and early-career jobs are unlike any others. They are often accepted months, if not years, in advance of the start date leaving plenty of time for candidates to change their minds and decide to work elsewhere, costing your team time and money.

There are two ways that have been proven to decrease renege rates for any company: keeping candidates engaged by sharing personalized information and helping them make connections with their future teammates. Companies use Scholars to accomplish both of these at scale.