Who Says Recruiters Can’t Innovate?

inspiration strikes as lightRecruiters have a tried and tested set of tools to help them find top talent in today’s marketplace:  jobs boards, social media, employee referrals, careers fairs; we talk about these things all the time on Recruiter.com.

There is nothing wrong with these more mainstream recruitment methods; they are safe, tried and tested and get the job done. But, there are other more inventive techniques out there that some recruiters are trying in order to attract talent and get the edge of the competition. Some succeed and some fail. Below, I have set out 8 of the most creative and innovative recruitment techniques that have been deployed recently. Maybe one of them might work for your business?

1. Include a hidden instruction in the job description to identify those who actually read it

Why not hide an instruction in the detail of the job description. It’s not hidden really, it’s perfectly accessible, it’s just that the candidates must read and process the entire job description to find the instruction. The instruction may be simply to “include a specific word at the top of their application” or it may be to “answer a question”. The end of the document is a good place to add the question, but you can put it where you like.

I have seen this approach used by many recruiters and have used it myself. It’s a great way to filter out those who lack attention to detail and who are ‘scattergunning’ and rushing applications, while at the same time focusing on those who are more genuinely interested in your role and who have taken the time to read the job description fully.

2. Make applicants jump through an extra hoop to identify the more strongly motivated ones

I Love Rewards, a small HR consulting firm adopted a creative recruitment method after receiving 1,200 job applications for nine openings. Rather then reading every resume, they e-mailed and thanked all the candidates for their interest and asked them to attend an open house in Toronto. Only 400 showed up.

By placing a small obstacle in the way of the next stage of selection, they were able to identify the more strongly motivated candidates, by a process of self selection.

3. Speed dating

After whittling down the 1,200 applicants to the 400 more motivated, self selecting attendees, I Love Rewards also adopted an innovative second stage selection process, which shared many of the hallmarks of speed dating!

Over the course of a couple of hours,  I Love Rewards’ 31 employees arranged the office into two floors. The first floor was an area where candidates and employees could mingle. The second floor became a so called speed dating area and each prospect had a conversation with the employees for a few minutes. At the end of the evening I Love Rewards had identified the top 68 candidates to take to the next stage.

4. Explore candidate’s enthusiasm for your products and values

H-E-B Central Market is a high end grocer that adopted a unique hiring process. As part of the initial screening process, all applicants must write a cover letter explaining how they have used teamwork and communication to solve problems on the job,  but more importantly,  candidates must describe a “favorite food experience”.

Successful second round candidates come in for a three hour interactive interview process called ‘Taste of the Future‘, which includes many innovative selection techniques, the most notable of which is where candidates are presented with an array of sample products in a group setting and recruiters observe their willingness to try new foods and how well they engage with others.

5. Targeted seduction

Red 5 Studios, a computer games company failed to find qualified candidates from jobs boards. They turned to social media where they hand picked 100 “dream candidates”. They spent time learning all about these candidate’s backgrounds and interests and then wooed them by mailing them each a ‘personalized’ iPod, which came with artistic packaging and a recorded message from the CEO. It worked, they had a 90% response rate and three left their jobs to join Red 5 Studios.

6. Coded Messages

Electronic Arts was looking to find ASC II programmers. It therefore created a coded message, written in ASCII code, that only potential hires could read and placed this coded message on a billboard directly in front of their competitors. What did the message say? The message read, “NOW HIRING”.

As a result EA received applications from their competitors business, some of which were written in ASCII.

7. Advertise in places where your ideal candidate might be

Google is famous for placing an advert on a billboard in Cambridge to attract math savvy candidates. This was no normal ad. It read:

{first 10—digit prime found in consecutive digits of e}.com

I don’t know what  it means, but apparently it speaks to math’s wizard’s only and tells them to go and apply for a job at Google. Pretty innovative anyway.

8. Buy keywords that potential candidates may be searching for online

Take the example of RapLeaf who are always on the look out for people interested in Hadoop, an opensource framework,. Rapleaf buys ads that will appear when people search for keywords associated with Hadoop. This approach has helped them to find qualified candidates.

in Recruitment Methods]
Kazim Ladimeji
Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.