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How 8 top companies are taking recruiting virtual this fall

The recruiting landscape is rapidly evolving. As the global pandemic continues, talent acquisition teams are forced to get creative with their recruiting strategies. One strategy that has opened up a wealth of new opportunities and advantages for recruiters is virtual recruiting. Talent acquisition teams are discovering that virtual recruiting helps increase their reach to meet more, diverse candidates, alleviate administrative burden, and ultimately save them time. 

As recruiting teams at businesses of all sizes rethink their strategies and goals, especially for the upcoming fall recruiting season, organizations are turning to Canvas to help uplevel their virtual recruiting efforts. There are plenty of lessons, tips, and tricks of virtual strategies that teams, like yours, can carry into the future recruiting seasons. 

We reached out to recruiters at eight top companies to ask them how they’re navigating the virtual landscape and pivoting their goals and strategies to stay competitive—and hire the best, most diverse talent. Here’s who we spoke with:

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Erin Breslin, Activision 

Industry: Video Games 

Hello! My name is Erin and I’ve been working for Activision for seven years now. I supported full-time recruitment before moving into our Early Careers team where we connect students with our summer internship opportunities.

What's one new habit you've picked up since starting remote work?

Historically I’ve always liked to work out in the evening. Since working remote, I’ve found that a quick workout in the morning before I get on my laptop really helps center my mindset and focus. I think it’s important to have a small routine during this WFH era to keep at least one thing consistent during this crazy time.

How are you staying competitive in a virtual landscape?

The company has decided to combine Activision, Blizzard, and King’s Early Careers teams to become one. By creating one centralized internship program, we can provide students with similar experiences and offer a larger variety of learning and development opportunities, internship options, and potential fulltime roles. We’ve kicked off this centralized program model for our virtual summer internship and it has been very successful so far. Blizzard interns are learning from Activision developers during our Tech Talks and vice versa.

Additionally, gaming has thankfully been an industry that has fared well during COVID. We launched Call of Duty: Warzone this past March and will be launching Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1 & 2, an all-new Crash Bandicoot game, and other IP later this year. We will always have more projects for students to contribute to!

What's an example of an innovative virtual event you’ve had or will be putting on this season? 

We just had an awesome panel of Vicarious Visions employees sharing war stories from previous game development cycles. They shared crazy moments that we would probably never hear of unless we were there when it happened. By using Zoom, we were able to have our 80 interns fill out a live poll to tell us which war stories they wanted to hear. By being virtual, we were able to make the most of our time and highlight the best content for the audience.

How have your goals or strategies as a team changed since last year?

Our goals around pipelining a diverse student talent pool into full-time roles after graduation will remain the same and will always be a process that we continuously improve.

The biggest change for our strategy this coming year will be to move 100% of our recruiting to a virtual platform. We usually have a balance of both in-person and virtual, but we will not be going to any campuses this year. By moving to a virtual recruiting format, we have the ability to access a larger audience of talented students to engage with. When presenting to students, our main goal is to leave them with more insight into a potential future career in the entertainment industry. If students love storytelling, entertainment, gaming, or really interesting problems to solve, we would highly recommend attending one of our virtual Canvas company info sessions this fall. Oh, and our applications open in September for our 2021 summer internships. We’ll see you on Canvas!

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Peggy Hsu, Roblox

Industry: Entertainment Platform

My name is Peggy and I am the Head of University Recruiting at Roblox. I have been in the university recruiting space for over nine years and have built out university recruiting programs at several tech companies. I love working and mentoring students to help them find the right job opportunity and watch them develop their career!

What's one new habit you've picked up since starting remote work?

I started creating more structured breaks in my schedule throughout my day to eliminate meeting fatigue and to separate work and life balance. This has really helped in clearing my head and having more energy throughout the day which allows me to communicate more clearly and effectively during my meetings.

How are you staying competitive in a virtual landscape?

With the COVID-19 pandemic, Roblox has increasingly become a lifeline for play and social connection in a time where we are not able to meet face-to-face. No matter where you are in the world, the Roblox platform provides a space for our users to engage in immersive experiences virtually, and have fun with your friends and peers! We are lucky to be in a position where we can provide valuable means of entertainment and play during this time of uncertainty in the world. 

As we think about recruitment and hiring, Roblox is a workplace like no other. Even in a period of hypergrowth, we have remained authentic to our company culture and core values. Our company values of “Own It”, “Take The Long View”, “Self-Organize”, “Get It Done”, and “Respect the Community” are an integral part of our early career talent strategy as interns and new grads contribute in so many ways to our mission, vision, and company culture. For interns and new grads, we are committed to providing a work experience that is engaging, challenging, informative, and enjoyable which is why we have interns who come back for their 2nd or even 3rd internship. We’ve also been certified as a Great Place to Work! 

What's an example of an innovative virtual event you’ve had or will be putting on this season? 

This year, Roblox will be hosting a Fall Event Series. On a bi-weekly basis, we will bring in speakers from the company to talk about what we are building, our technologies, and how Roblox is defining the future of play. Students will also get a chance to meet with new grads on their experience and get insights and tips on how to start their career and things to consider as students are figuring out how to choose the right career path for them. We want to provide all students the opportunity to not only learn about Roblox but also interact with our teams, learn our values, and hopefully ignite some excitement for them through these events. We hope through these virtual events we will be able to connect with more students and provide more opportunities to students then we have in the past as we are so eager to hire some amazing student talent into the company. We also have some great prizes lined up for attendees so you don’t want to miss it!

How have your goals or strategies as a team changed since last year?

In addition to our commitment to providing valuable and enjoyable work experience, we also want to provide an environment where individuals feel included. At Roblox, interns are assigned to hiring managers and mentors who provide work direction, instruction, and guidance during the summer. Roblox interns are also encouraged to get involved with our community interest groups. We have a variety of groups at the company that encompasses a diverse range of interests, passions, hobbies such as video games, cooking, meditation, and many others. As we look to start recruiting this fall, we will be partnering with a variety of student groups across multiple schools to host virtual events that include a panel discussion and tech talks and other fun topics as diversity and inclusion are a big focus for Roblox. We are excited that our reach will be bigger and we will be able to provide more accessibility and opportunity in this new virtual environment that we are in.

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Cassie Rose, IMC Trading

Industry: Financial Services

My name is Cassie and I am a University Recruiter at IMC Trading in Chicago, specifically responsible for managing our university relations, hiring top intern and entry-level talent for our systems and hardware engineering pipelines, and leading our summer internship program. Prior to joining IMC,  I worked in similar Campus Recruiting roles at Huron Consulting and Andersen Tax, and received my B.S. in Human and Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University in 2014.

What's one new habit you've picked up since starting remote work?

One new habit I’ve picked up since starting remote work is spending more time outside. Given I no longer have my typical 30-minute walk to/from the IMC office, I found myself hardly spending any time outside of my home each day. Thus, I decided to pick up some new outdoor hobbies like going on leisurely bike rides after work, and spending a few hours each day working outside on my balcony. I think forcing myself to get at least an hour of fresh air every day has helped me maintain balance and relieve stress after a long day of Zoom meetings.

How are you staying competitive in a virtual landscape?

Our University Recruiting team has explored various new initiatives, events, and tools to stay competitive and on top of our game in this virtual landscape. Specifically, we’ve started utilizing a number of new sourcing tools, like Canvas, that have helped broaden our access to top engineering and trading talent across the US. Additionally, we’ve participated in a number of new events and webinars this summer where we’ve been able to virtually share what life is like at IMC, our ability to adapt to change, and how we’re maintaining relationships with students and universities during this difficult time. For instance, we are sponsoring InternHacks this summer, which is a mentorship program that was created for students whose internships were negatively impacted by COVID-19. On top of that, one of my recruiting colleagues and a current IMC intern were recently featured on “The Internship Show” podcast, which received over 10,000 listens.

 What's an example of an innovative virtual event you’ve had or will be putting on this season? 

As a trading firm, we recruit people who enjoy engaging in analytical and mathematical decision making, so we partner with a lot of student poker clubs across our target universities. Thus, an event we have in mind for this fall is to organize one virtual session where we invite poker club members from a bunch of different schools (for instance Duke Poker Club, UIUC Poker Club, MIT Poker Club, etc.). During the session, we’d have a few IMC Quant Traders chat about their experience at IMC and then facilitate a friendly competition amongst the different clubs. The winning club would receive an IMC-branded poker set!

How have your goals or strategies as a team changed since last year?

I would say the biggest change and challenge for us this season is that we have our highest hiring targets ever for 2021, and have to find a way to fulfill these targets in an entirely new landscape. Given we will continue to be virtual for the foreseeable future, we are working diligently to modify our overall strategy for both identifying and interviewing candidates. This has involved working very closely with the business to test new tools, rehearse new questions and formats, create compelling content that virtually showcases our culture, and develop engaging presentations and networking opportunities.

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Saqi Mehta, Cloudera

Industry: Software Development

Saqi Mehta is passionate about all things education and recruiting, specifically diversity in tech. She's a proud Disney, VMware, and Square alumna and currently leads the Global Early Talent and Diversity Recruiting Team at Cloudera. 

What's one new habit you've picked up since starting remote work?

Cooking! It's super therapeutic to make a meal from scratch and had the fun opportunity to be interviewed for Eater Magazine.

How are you staying competitive in a virtual landscape?

We're all facing unchartered waters this year with COVID, and thankfully we've been able to keep our intern and new grad programs globally and turn them into virtual experiences. Our amazing managers have been extremely engaged and as a result, our class of 2020 has thrived under otherwise stressful circumstances. We are discussing the possibility of leading with a remote-first model moving forward, which would also allow us the opportunity to hire students from a wider range of backgrounds and geographic areas. 

What's an example of an innovative virtual event you’ve had or will be putting on this season? 

Diversity and inclusion is a priority for my team and the company. We have launched a series of events called Cloudera Conversations. The first one is called "The Many Shades of We" and is meant to open up lines of communication between our Black Employee Network and the community. It is free and open to all so would love to have you join us! https://hopin.to/events/cldr1 

How have your goals or strategies as a team changed since last year?

I wouldn't say our goals have changed; rather, we see 2020 as an incredible opportunity to hire more women and underrepresented folks to Cloudera and ultimately be able to better serve the customers we work for every day. Come join us!

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Anna Desousa, Akamai

Industry: Internet

My name is Anna Desousa, and I’m a recruiter for the Emerging Talent team at Akamai. In my nearly two years with Akamai, I have been involved in event planning, recruiting, and strategy development for our intern programs and new graduate hiring process.

What's one new habit you've picked up since starting remote work?

Since moving to remote work 4 months ago, I have learned to discard my old schedules and adapt to timelines that work best with my natural productivity peaks. I no longer worry myself with working the standard 9 to 5 grind, and instead get through the bulk of my work very early in the morning. Another habit: retiring my typical peanut butter sandwich and eating a proper lunch every day!

How are you staying competitive in a virtual landscape?

We will be focusing our efforts on quality over quantity – that is, digging deep into our relationships with student groups and universities while nurturing new ones to determine what kinds of events people really want. By delivering the quality programming that students desire, we aim to stand out from the pack. Likewise, we plan to have fewer, yet more meaningful, touchpoints with students. We’re moving away from large, impersonal career fairs and towards smaller, tailored events where we can build individual relationships and maximize the hiring return on our recruiting efforts. Finally, we expect lasting changes to work from home norms, and so will market ourselves as a great place to work remotely by using data collected from our virtual summer interns this year. 

What's an example of an innovative virtual event you’ve had or will be putting on this season? 

Plans are still in the works, but one goal is to hold a Virtual Speed Dating session with ERG representatives for student diversity groups (including NSBE, SHPE, and others). We want students to connect with our culture and values through our events, and so will minimize general information sessions in favor of more personal touchpoints.

How have your goals or strategies as a team changed since last year?

Fortunately, we pivoted away from traditional in-person recruiting in 2019, which gave us a head start in the new COVID-19 virtual environment. With one season of virtual hiring under our belts, we will be upping our game by diversifying and deepening recruiting platform usage, supplemented by a higher volume of virtual events. For example, we plan to enhance our interaction with the Canvas platform by increasing proactive sourcing, leveraging student communities, and hosting Canvas events. Additionally, our hiring strategy will increasingly reflect the needs of students in this unusual time. We plan to create new resources to support students (and hiring managers) with virtual interviews and to create a diversity of means by which students can learn about us and our teams – without ever being able to come to our offices. As we are learning with our Summer Intern class right now, the need for interpersonal connection is much greater than in years’ past, and so our foremost goal in 2021 will be to get creatively connected with students.

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Nick Hernandez, Equinix

Industry: Internet

My name is Nick Hernandez, Manager, Talent Acquisition at Equinix. My role is to recruit tech and non-tech talent through diversity partnerships and non-profit organizations. I joined Equinix about a month ago from JP Morgan Chase and Toyota, where I managed college programs. 

What's one new habit you've picked up since starting remote work?

Personally, I’ve been able to take my dog on more beach walks and am able to spend more time with my family. In terms of work, I’ve started leveraging technology even more to drive strategic initiatives, and there’s more time to communicate with my team, talent and our partners. The recruiting space is constantly changing and we need to stay ahead of the curve, and I find I have more time for ongoing research—which helps us to be competitive.  

How are you staying competitive in a virtual landscape?

We’re staying competitive through virtual partnerships and tools that allow us to attract the talent the business needs. This includes building stronger relationships with partners and universities, where we can stand out and stay competitive. Our Equinix people-first culture remains a key competitive differentiator. We continue to develop our people and make sure they have a voice and impact in the company.  

What's an example of an innovative virtual event you’ve had or will be putting on this season? 

In a new, completely virtual college recruiting event format, we’ll host booths, identify talent, and give hiring managers a chance to quickly meet prospects 1:1 (a “speed-dating” approach) and tell us whether to schedule formal interviews. 

How have your goals or strategies as a team changed since last year?

We’re going to a 100-percent virtual events and sourcing strategy. This allows us to be even more targeted and proactive when it comes to identifying the talent pools we need. Like everyone else, we’re being forced to think about how to do things differently and more strategically.

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Linda Condon, Rivian 

Industry: Electric Vehicle/Automotive

I’m delighted to be building out the University Relations program at Rivian. I’ve found my passion in university hiring and have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to build programs at Pure Storage and FireEye, along with managing the global intern program at VMware.

What's one new habit you've picked up since starting remote work?

Unfortunately, my habit is wearing workout clothes on the bottom half and work clothes on the top half (visible on ZOOM).  Sooooooo much sitting!!  I’m missing the buzz around the office.

How are you staying competitive in a virtual landscape?

 We have been very fortunate at Rivian.  While many companies canceled their intern programs, we were able to shift easily to a virtual program for 21 winter interns (mid-season) and 113 interns this summer. Impactful projects/job responsibilities have also kept us competitive even in a virtual landscape.

What's an example of an innovative virtual event you’ve had or will be putting on this season? 

Since we won’t be attending Career Fairs or hosting Tech Talks this Fall—we will be moving to virtual events that will allow our business to engage with students. 

How have your goals or strategies as a team changed since last year?

Our goals have not changed, we are currently reviewing headcount projections for our 2021 interns and grads and expect to continue our upward growth. Our strategy has changed, due to COVID.  We will be focusing on virtual events to attract top talent, and Zoom interviews.

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Dakin Gunn, Nuro

Industry: Robotics

My name is Dakin Gunn -I graduated in 2009 from UC Davis. And have been in technical and software recruiting since. I have had the privilege of leading large technical recruiting teams at Uber, Uber ATG, OfferUp, and now Nuro - specializing in software engineering, Security, and Autonomous Driving recruiting. 

What's one new habit you've picked up since starting remote work?

On a personal level, my wife and I try to take our new puppy to the dog park during lunch to make sure we get some exercise and fresh air during the workday. Since shelter-in-place has significantly changed our day-to-day work style and location, we have all had to adapt to new challenges and a new reality. Something that has really helped our team keep feeling a strong sense of unity is a daily standup amongst team members, where we share deliverables, challenges, and goals. This helps ensure we collaborate and can brainstorm together to overcome challenges. We also play an online team game every Friday to keep morale high and everyone having fun.

How are you staying competitive in a virtual landscape?

We have created a video pitch deck that walks through who we are, where we have been, and where we’re going. This video allows candidates to get a 30 minute deep dive on Nuro. The kind of information you’d gather while onsite if you had the opportunity to have an office tour, see our robot in person, eat lunch with the team, and meet with a founder.

What's an example of an innovative virtual event you’ve had or will be putting on this season? 

We’re actually putting on five events for university students. We wanted to ensure that each event has a specific focus - be it Hardware, Autonomy, Diversity, or Infrastructure. We want to highlight the strength of our teams, the diverse opposites each team provides, and an opportunity for students to engage directly with our team leaders. 

How have your goals or strategies as a team changed since last year?

While timelines have changed, and our work locations have been adjusted --- our goals have not changed. We still strive to bring the world's best engineering talent to Nuro in order to solve remarkably hard problems, while ensuring a top candidate experience.


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We hope you’re as excited about virtual recruiting as we are! Gone are the days when you were limited to local applicants and core schools. With the right virtual recruiting strategies, you can expand your reach to build a stronger, more diverse candidate pipeline, differentiate your brand, and accelerate the hiring process—all while reducing costs and increasing your ROI. 

Interested in learning more about how Canvas can help you efficiently hire top early-in-career talent? See Canvas in action or contact our team at [email protected]

Hundreds of company partners are using Canvas's diversity recruiting platform to connect, source, and engage top underrepresented talent, and even more are already a part of our Communities. 

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