The Forage Talent Resource Center

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10 Reasons Why You Need a Virtual Work Experience Program

There is no doubt that the early talent industry is filled with a variety of tools and technology that provide solutions for each stage of the recruiting process. There are tools for psychometric testing during the application process, tools to facilitate blind resume reviews, and tools to facilitate the application process itself (i.e. application tracking systems, or ATS). It can be complicated, and even overwhelming, to navigate this as a recruiter.

What if there was a simple solution that revamped the entire early talent framework for recruiters? What if there was a platform that could:

  • Enable on-campus presence 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year;
  • Generate powerful employer branding, en masse;
  • Showcase what the organization does with more depth than a careers page, how they do it, and what makes them different from their competitors; and
  • Empower companies to attract and hire the best, most high-intent and diverse talent through enhanced hiring signals?

That solution is a virtual work experience program. And it’s not a tool that solves a specific problem – it’s a tool that changes the entire way you approach early talent.

Here are 10 reasons why virtual work experience programs should be your new recruiting tool.

1. Change the definition of employer branding

There’s no doubt that employer brand is a fundamental component of effective recruiting. Organizations benefit from generating a brand that candidates aspire to work for and that is why it continues to require significant upfront investment. From investing to enhance the company website, hiring social media managers, developing marketing collateral, or attending campus, career, or industry events – it’s a lot of time, effort, and cost.

Organizations can now use virtual work experience programs to go beyond explaining what they do to demonstrating it. Participants can now immerse themselves in your workplace and get a sense of what you do, how you do it, and what makes you unique. Rather than explain what it means to be an M&A lawyer at a commercial law firm, illustrate it through a series of videos and hypothetical tasks that simulate what the real life work would entail. Rather than publish articles explaining how your organization is more innovative than others, have your employees talk to participants, on demand, about the type of technology they use in their day to day.

2. Get the best talent by standing out against your competitors

You know what makes your company unique and wonderful to work for but it can be difficult to explain this to students without sounding as though you have an ulterior motive (even if you do). You also know that your company does much more interesting work than your competitors or that the team environment is so much more collaborative and supportive, but it can be hard to get this message across besides, “trust us.”

Rather than trying to explain the difference or encourage students during campus or career events, simply point them to your virtual work experience program. It’s all there. The team, how they work, and what they do is all in one spot and it's set up in a safe-space, supportive, and immersive learning environment.

3. Become an employer of choice by generating goodwill, en masse

It is daunting for students to think about what they want to do with their career. Many aren’t sure what opportunities are available, some question whether they have what it takes, and others are just overwhelmed.

You can use an open-access and free-of-charge virtual work experience program to help students around the world gain invaluable practical skills, build confidence, and see what potential careers can hold for them. By opening your doors and investing in their learning, without expecting anything in return, you will foster immediate and far-reaching goodwill across your target audience. Don’t underestimate how valuable it is for students to have the opportunity to learn from companies like yours.

4. Bridge the capability gap between university and entry-level employment


It is no secret that organizations invest heavily in training and upskilling entry-level employees. However, this is necessary because universities do not effectively prepare students for the world of work. The very foundations of the university framework are based in theoretical teachings. The priority isn’t always placed on practical application, and even if it is, practical application can vary depending on which organization you work at. You can read more about this here.

Improve your organization’s productivity and save costs by frontloading practical training. Do this by using virtual work experience programs that focus on the specific skills employees need to be successful in your organization, such as client communication, research, Excel models, or even coding. Encourage candidates to complete these programs before they even enter the application stage. By doing this, you can ensure the candidates you bring into the company are entering armed with a strong foundation of core skills to hit the ground running.

5. Set your organization up for long term success by fostering diversity of thought

Why are companies still hiring from the same universities each year? They may approve of the curriculum, teaching frameworks, and diversity initiatives etc., but are they not just encouraging the same cookie-cutter mould? 

Organizations need to accept that while universities have, to date, been a convenient way to identify talent, the path to universities is not an easy or fair one. Candidates experience a variety of life events and experiences that mean they are not afforded the same opportunities to go to university. Companies that do not appreciate this and do not accommodate for the breadth and variety of candidates out there do not set themselves up for success. In order to ensure continued success, a company must evolve and innovate. So how is that possible when you continue to hire from the same universities?

Go beyond well-trodden paths and think bigger about your talent pipeline. By simply opening your doors to candidates around the globe, you can observe who comes through your program, how they perform, and whether they would be the right fit. What university they went to becomes a secondary consideration, and the focus shifts to the person themselves.

6. Seamlessly and effortlessly build out your campus reach

Opening up your organization to access points from other pathways does not mean you need to remove yourself entirely from the university network. In fact, universities around the globe have quickly embraced the benefits of virtual work experience programs – in fact, Forage has formed over 200 university partnerships in less than 12 months. The partnerships are such that any virtual work experience program is automatically distributed to each university’s far-reaching student network. Further, an increasing number of universities are directly integrating the virtual programs into coursework, making it compulsory for students to complete the program – like Macquarie Business School. That’s not a bad way to get your organization’s brand (and virtual workplace) to students en masse!

And the best part is, you can maintain this network 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The pressure to travel throughout the country to attend the variety of campus or career events becomes less of a necessity, so you can be more targeted in how and where you choose to dedicate your time.

7. Use positive friction to bubble to the surface the candidates genuinely committed to your workplace

We all like to believe we’re special but let’s be real – applicants are not just applying to your company. They’re applying to tens, even hundreds, of other companies to increase their chances of employment. Sometimes they’re applying to companies they don’t know anything about (I, for one, am very much guilty of this). It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there when it comes to finding the right career path, so students feel the pressure to play the odds to set themselves up as best they can.

This leaves you with hundreds and even thousands of applications to sift through. You could be investing time trying to attract a particular candidate throughout the application process, only to find out that they have taken an internship with your competitor, or even worse, turned down your graduate offer for one from your competitor. That’s a lot of lost time and effort, and you might have missed out on those candidates that had desperately wanted to work for your company specifically.

The reality is there is no adequate replacement for intent. Employees that are committed to your company are the ones that work the best, create the biggest impact, and are there for the long haul. They are the ones you need to prioritize to get the best talent for your organization. So it can’t hurt to generate some ‘positive friction’ – a small yet surmountable hurdle like a virtual work experience program that showcases genuine intent. You can read more about positive friction here.


8. Solve the diversity and inclusion issue by thinking creatively about access 

It’s a well-quoted figure that companies spend over $8 billion on diversity and inclusion initiatives each year. Diversity and inclusion roles are becoming one of the most in-demand roles in the HR industry. Tools and technology to support blind resume reviews or randomized application frameworks are proliferating.

It’s all towards a commendable and fundamentally necessary initiative – but we must ask ourselves whether it’s working. The BLM emphasis in 2020 suggest there’s more work to do.

What if there was a solution that focused on resolving a fundamental contributor to the diversity and inclusion issue: access. Rather than having the entry point to your company be after requiring candidates to attend certain universities or obtain certain marks, progress through the application process, and then enter your workplace – what if you opened your doors earlier? Through virtual work experience programs you can let anyone anywhere experience your workplace. This not only inspires them to pursue certain career paths, it empowers them to make the right career decision for themselves and to gain valuable skills along the way. 

You can’t solve the myriad problems within the complicated issue of diversity and inclusion at large, but you can still make an immediate and powerful impact by breaking down the barriers to entry at your organization and empowering all types of people along the way.

9. Use enhanced hiring signals to identify the best-fit candidates

Can a person’s potential and workplace fit really be distilled down to a resume, academic transcript, cover letter, and interview? Most people are guilty of ‘enhancing’ their credentials. Others are just exceptional at studying, but less so at the actual doing. Some know how to write really well – or how to present really well, but then fall short in the workplace itself.

We have to be smarter about how we identify candidates. We have to go beyond traditional indicators and find ways to understand the person and their potential. Candidates that choose to invest 6-8 hours in a virtual workplace are indicating their intent. Candidates that choose to complete the program in its entirety, submitting multiple task attempts, are showcasing their commitment to learn and improve. Candidates that attempt multiple programs are showcasing their commitment to form a strong and successful career through skilling themselves. Candidates who answer on a scale of 1 to 10 just how much they want to work for you won’t be the candidates that renege on graduate offers.

We now have the ability to do better, so we should.


10. Breakaway from traditional recruiting frameworks that are becoming increasingly burdensome and expensive

There are thousands of tools and technology available to early talent recruiters because the world of early talent is complicated. But just because it’s complicated now doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. It’s time to think differently about how we approach early talent. 

You can do this by embracing transparency and showcasing to the masses what we do and how we do it. You can now open the veil of mystery of what your company does and leverage a single platform to:

  • Attract talent beyond traditional channels,
  • Break down the barriers to entry,
  • Generate positive friction to bring to surface genuinely committed candidates, and
  • Use enhanced signals to identify the best-fit candidates who are now skilled to work in your company, specifically.

So now that you know the 10 reasons why virtual work experience programs should be your new recruiting tool, what are you waiting for? It’s not just another tool – this is an entirely different way of thinking and approaching early talent. And it’s time you jumped on board. Get in touch to learn more.

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