businessman giving an ideaFP7, an ad agency in Dubai, used a creative way to recruit new creative talent that it boasts eliminated agency fees yet left some wondering at the expense of it all.

From Adweek.com comes the story that FP7 took “a novel approach to avoid hefty headhunter fees. The shop placed cellphones inside die-cut, faux ad industry books and mailed the volumes to creatives it wished to hire. ”

You know with the idea that the creative person would receive the book and no one else around would be any wiser because it looked just like a book. Inside was the cellphone with the number of FP7′s executive creative director.

Of course the company was claiming the promotion was a success. In the article, it said, “FP7 ultimately added four key staffers—an art director, a design chief and an award-winning creative team—and claims to have saved more than $80,000 in recruitment costs.”

That number was treated suspiciously by the Adweek.com writer who said, “Clearly, the project shows the agency’s fun, creative spirit. But $80K for recruitment? I know Dubai’s a pricey place, but $80K, really? Even paying $1,600 to make the books seems a tad excessive. Why not just call potential recruits, invite them to the office, or take them out for dinner? I guess today’s recruits need a little more excitement than that.”

Of course, not figured into the number saved on headhunting is how much brand goodwill was built up with the campaign. It got international attention and at the same time probably created a desire by other creatives to be recruited in the same way. After all, people who received the books (each customized to the particular target) were instantly branded as white hot compared to their co-workers who were not.

Other companies try offbeat recruiting techniques, too, but just not at the same expense as FP7. As quoted at BrightMove.com, “The Director of Talent Acquisition at Quicken Loans tells the New York Times how his company (which is regularly listed in Fortune’s “100 best places to work”) hires fast while maintaining its corporate culture standards: by looking for great people in unexpected places. For example, the company once conducted a “blitz of local retail stores and restaurants, sending employees out to interact with workers and offer interview[s] to those who really stood out.”

One other creative way to recruit new employees is by playing games. An Entrepreneur.com article talked about App search engine Quixey. It has a game on its website for potential hires, called Quixey Challenge. Basically, you log on and register for the challenge. Those who have enough skills to correct a programming bug in less than a minute win $100 and the opportunity to come in and talk with a hiring manager. There’s no guarantee of a job but it does get you through the door more effectively than a traditional online job application ever could.

The same article talks about the website HalloweenCostume.com. Its recruitment method is a little more unorthodox but actually takes place once the applicant is in the office for an interview. “HalloweenCostumes.com … asks prospective hires to play a game of Jenga with their potential managers and co-workers. The game, in which building blocks are removed from a structure until it collapses, helps the group break the ice.

“Each block has an interview question on it, which opens up discussion and allows the team to see how they get along before the candidate is hired,” the article said. That strategy helps ensure the candidates aren’t being asked canned questions. It’s probably also amazingly effective at demonstrating manual dexterity. The article doesn’t report if the interviewee gets demerits for saying “Jenga!” too enthusiastically if an employee loses.



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