When Covid-19 shut down in-person job fairs, Compass Group turned to virtual events and never looked back.

  • Industry
    Food service and support
  • Employees
    280,000+
  • US Headquarters
    Charlotte, NC

If you’ve ever hit the concession stand at a stadium or grabbed lunch from a dining hall at a university, you’ve probably interacted with the friendly folks who make up Compass Group. Headquartered in the UK, the company is one of the largest employers in the world — and, in some ways, also one of the most intentionally invisible. Often, Compass Group employees simply appear to be employees of the facilities they serve. 

How big is Compass Group? In the United States and Canada alone, the company employs more than 280,000 people and generates annual revenues of more than $20 billion. It serves more than 11 million meals a day. And it does all of that without much fanfare — often partnering with hospitals, sports teams, and universities to provide the people to deliver those services. 

Historically, Compass Group’s relied heavily on in-person job fairs to recruit those people. It’s not uncommon for the company’s frontline team and field hiring managers to be tasked with filling hundreds of positions in a matter of weeks with hiring events. 

With in-person job fairs, that was doable. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, that option came to a screeching halt. 

“Like every other company around the world, the traditional job fair just wasn’t an option for most of our locations,” says Alexandra Miller, a Talent Acquisition Manager at Compass Group. “The most challenging part was that we had no idea when — or if — they’d be a realistic option for us again.” 

Re-Imagining the Job Fair & Hiring Event Experience

With in-person events out of the equation, Miller and her team went into transformation mode. 

“We didn’t want to just replicate the in-person event experience virtually,” Miller says. “We started asking how we could re-imagine hiring events entirely. We knew we wanted it to be completely mobile-first, because that’s where our candidates are most active. And we wanted to make sure hosting these events wasn’t a huge burden on our team.” 

“We didn’t want to just replicate the in-person event experience virtually. We started asking how we could re-imagine hiring events entirely."

Once they had an idea of how to pivot their strategy, they needed to find a partner to help them execute. Thankfully, Miller and her team already had a trusted partner in mind. 

In 2018, Compass Group partnered with Paradox to transform its entire recruiting process — leveraging Paradox’s conversational AI assistant Olivia to help candidates find jobs, apply via text message, and answer questions instantly. Now, the objective was to bring that same experience to events.  

With Paradox’s virtual events solution, Compass Group could set up an event landing page in minutes and candidates could register for the event through a simple conversation with Olivia — no cumbersome log-ins or passwords required. Once a candidate was registered, Olivia automated all of the follow-up, including reminders leading up to the event, alerting the candidate when the event started, and following-up with the candidate after the event with next steps. 

Compass Group could even invite candidates to join a video interview during the event — and even that didn’t require a complicated setup. Candidates just clicked a link and could immediately join a video call right on their phone or laptop.

“For us, the goal was to not overthink or over-complicate the experience with a virtual booth or something that might feel intimidating for candidates,” Miller says. “We wanted every part of the process — from registering for a virtual hiring event to receiving reminders leading up to it — to feel conversational and easy. The product Paradox brought to the table checked every box.”

"We wanted every part of the process — from registering for a virtual hiring event to receiving reminders leading up to it — to feel conversational and easy. The product Paradox brought to the table checked every box."

Virtual Hiring Event Results that Speak for Themselves

Because it was such a big departure from in-person events, Miller wasn’t sure how everyone would respond to the new experience. But it didn’t take long for positive feedback to start flowing in. 

“Hiring managers raved about how sleek and user-friendly it was — they didn’t have to learn a new system or navigate around a clunky platform,” Miller says. “They loved the ability to categorize attendees during and after an interview, the notes they could take during a conversation within the platform, and the ability to share candidates with other hiring managers.”

The virtual experience was equally well received by candidates, Miller says. 

"For candidates, having the ability to text during events drastically reduced drop-off. They loved not having to download new software or create a new login for another new system. They could just register right on their phone and they received a text when it was their turn to talk to a hiring manager.” 

Beyond the anecdotal, Compass Group has also seen tangible results that Miller says are — at a minimum — equivalent to the success they saw with in-person events. 

In just three months, Compass Group has: 

  • Hosted 75+ virtual events
  • Attracted 4,000 attendees to those events
  • Advanced 20% of attendees to the final interview or offer stage 

Compass Group SVP of Talent Acquisition Michael Gruber credits that success to his team’s ability to quickly pivot, the incredible simplicity of the product, and their deep partnership with Paradox. 

“Paradox is one of those rare partners that has the imagination to help you dream up a crazy idea and the technology to actually make it real,” Gruber says. “The team has always over-delivered on its promises, and our experience with virtual events has been no different. Even in a once-in-a-lifetime moment like a pandemic, the Paradox team rose to the challenge because they truly care about helping their clients.” 

"Paradox is one of those rare partners that has the imagination to help you dream up a crazy idea and the technology to actually make it real."

As for how all of this might change Compass Group’s event strategy, Miller says she sees a hybrid future. 

“Because our virtual events have been so effective, I don’t see us going back to the way we used to do things,” she says. “When in-person events do come back, we’ll probably still recommend virtual events as part of the initial strategy — where we proactively host virtual events first to see if we can get a head start and then decide if we need to host the in-person event at all.”

75

Virtual events hosted over 90 days

4,000+

Attendees at virtual events

20%

Conversion rate of attendees to new hires

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