April 9, 2014

Five Uncommon Recruiting Tactics to Land Great Talent

walking a new pathRecruiters, you play a difficult and complicated game. While you’re doing your best to identify and hire the strongest candidates you can, you also have to compete with the other recruiters who have their eyes on the same people you do.

And that’s not all. In a lot of ways, recruiters also have to compete with the candidates themselves. See, recruiters are in the market for people, and people are messy and complicated. You might know that your organization can offer a candidate the best possible job, but the candidate may not be so sure. So on the battlefield of recruitment, you’re up against two forces at once: other recruiters and the hesitance of prospective talent.

At times, you may find that the traditional methods of recruiting just are not cutting it. When that happens, you have to get creative to outsmart other recruiters and convince candidates that they should join your organization. Here are five uncommon recruiting tactics that organizations have used in the past. Depending on your needs, these strategies may just be the tools for you. At the very least, they should help you start thinking outside of the box.

1. Get Really Personal

Of course you should get to know your candidates on a personal level. Every recruiter knows that. Traditionally, recruiters have used the interview process to learn about prospective talent, and they’ve added social media research as another valuable tool in recent times.

But recruiters use these tactics to engage every potential hire, so candidates may not feel special. At that point, it is up to the recruiter to prove that they have really and truly taken the time to learn about who their candidates are on a deeply personal level.

To do just this, video game company Red 5 Studios conducted extensive research on a batch of top-tier candidates by reading through their social network accounts and personal blogs. Red 5 then sent each candidate a personalized iPod, each one containing a recorded message from CEO Mark Ken. Going the extra mile really paid off: out of about 100 candidates, more than 90 responded to the outreach, and three candidates left their jobs to join Red 5.

2. Reach Out to Your Candidate’s Friends and Family

Candidates may be hesitant to take recruiters at face value, but they’ll definitely pay attention to what their loved ones are telling them.

Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, told CNNMoney about the time she ran into difficulty convincing an especially strong candidate to join her organization. This candidate had an offer from another company, and he was close to choosing that opportunity over PepsiCo. So Nooyi called the candidate’s mother and spoke with her at length about why she believed PepsiCo was the best place for her son. It was a boldly unconventional move, but it worked: the mother was so impressed by Nooyi that she talked her son into accepting PepsiCo’s offer.

Keep in mind, Nooyi wasn’t recruiting a teenager for a summer gig – she was dealing with a high-level candidate. Nooyi also routinely sends letters to the parents of her direct reports, as a way to recognize their hard work. Of course, Nooyi takes the time to really get to know her candidates and employees before doing this. Everyone involved responds positively because they know Nooyi is sincere in what she does.

3. Limit Yourself

The Internet gives recruiters access to more candidates than ever before, thanks to job boards, social media, and sundry other apps, services, and websites. For the most part, recruiters have unquestionably accepted this as a good thing – after all, more candidates must mean more high quality prospects, right?

As HR guru Tim Sackett points out, infinite reach may not be as great as it sounds. Sackett says that trying to reach an unlimited amount of candidates does little more than make it harder for recruiters to find the candidates who really matter. Truly great and relevant talent gets buried under the sheer number of prospects.

Instead, Sackett counsels a seemingly counter-intuitive approach to social recruiting: instead of casting a wide net, carefully dig around for candidates who the specific skills your organization needs. Social recruiting shouldn’t be a numbers game. Instead, recruiters should leverage the Web to hunt for and connect with the best candidates.

4. Use Star Power

This tactic actually comes from sports website Bleacher Report, but recruiters in all industries should be able to use it as a launch pad for their own practices.

Bleacher Report notes that the University of Oregon’s football team, the Ducks, uses its partnership with Nike to recruit new players. Prospective team members are excited by a big-name sponsorship like Nike’s, as well as the possibility of meeting Nike’s powerhouse co-founder, Phil Knight.

Your organization may not have a deal with Nike, but it may have working relationships with similarly powerful people and companies. Or maybe your organization even has an industry superstar on staff. Don’t be afraid to flaunt what you have. Sure, you don’t want to make promises that you can’t keep, nor do you want to exploit people or organizations to bring new talent aboard, but simply acknowledging the that your company does business with powerful players is a good way to convince candidates that their work with you will be meaningful.

5. Be Interactive

It is the recruiter’s job to court new talent, but that doesn’t mean that recruiters should do all the talking. In fact, if you give candidates a chance to voice themselves and be heard during the recruitment process itself, they’ll learn that the company cares about their concerns before even starting the job.

As Direct Recruiting points out, Deloitte New Zealand uses its Facebook page to create an interactive recruitment experience for candidates. Periodically, Deloitte New Zealand hosts live-streaming videos in which employees of the company discuss their personal experiences at the organization. During these broadcasts, people can post questions and comments directly to Deloitte’s Facebook page. Employees answer these questions and address these comments during the live video. Candidates know that Deloitte New Zealand cares about what they have to say – and they didn’t even have to step into the office to figure that out.

The Moral of the Story

Recruiting is not a one-size-fits-all operation. How recruiters connect with and respond to candidates depends on the specifics of the situation: what organization does a recruiter represent, what role do they need to fill, is the candidate active or passive, etc. That’s all the more reason for recruiters to get creative while courting candidates. By offering a unique recruiting experience, recruiters can outshine the competition and lock-in top-tier talent with relative ease.

Read more in Sourcing

Matthew Kosinski is the former managing editor of Recruiter.com.