Monday, January 27, 2014

Creative Recruiting: 7 Innovative Ways to Land Your Dream Hire


If you want to avoid sifting through a stack of poorly written resumes and find your dream hire, simple ad postings just aren’t going to cut it.

While posting ads online might be effective in hiring entry-level employees, the most skilled professionals aren’t likely scouring or CareerBuilder for employment opportunities.
In the current “talent war,” many companies are developing more creative ways to uncover, target and attract talented candidates — especially when looking to fill upper-level management positions and when recruiting for a position that requires a niche skill.
How can you secure the best person for your open position? Here are 16 examples of companies with innovative recruiting strategies along with tips for implementing a similar strategy at your company.


Increasingly, companies are using video games to recruit employees. Gamification, or the use of gaming principles and design in non-gaming situations, identifies potential employees by posing virtual challenges that require the skills necessary for a given job.
This strategy also increases brand awareness: An engaging and fun game can associate your brand with positive values and company culture, and it can introduce your company to applicants who hadn’t previously considered a job in your industry.

Marriott’s 'My Marriott Hotel' game screenshotMarriott’s ‘My Marriott Hotel’

In attempt to recruit more Millennials as well as attract applicants for international branches, Marriott International launched the “My Marriott Hotel” game. Players manage a virtual hotel restaurant kitchen, purchase supplies on a budget and manage employees. The game helped Marriott generate interest in the hospitality industry, increase brand awareness and identify talent across the globe.
According to Francesca Martinez, Marriott VP of Human Resources, players from 120 different countries are running their own virtual kitchens at any given time. The game also successfully increased traffic to the company’s career site- Martinez approximates that one-third of users click on the “try it for real” button on the top corner of the game, which redirects them to the company’s career site.

Mitre’s ‘Job of Honor’

Mitre Corp., an engineering and technology services corporation, noticed its workforce was growing older and wanted to reach out to a younger talent pool. After determining that 90% of its target audience used video games as a top form of socializing, the company created a game to aid in recruitment efforts.
In “Job of Honor,” players take a self-guided virtual tour of the company’s workplace and spend a day in the life of a Mitre project manager, completing tasks that are typically assigned to the position.
In addition to effectively recruiting talent, “Job of Honor” increased the company’s reputation among young talent. Within the first three months of the game’s release, the Mitre site received more than 5,200 hits and accumulated over 600 registered players in 48 U.S. states and 25 countries worldwide.

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu’s virtual office tour

The China division of global consulting agency Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu created a “virtual office tour” to attract talent and build its company brand.
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu’s virtual office tour airplane tour
Players first choose a destination (Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong) and watch as their tickets print and board a plane. Once the gamer arrives at the virtual office, he can visit working areas, meeting rooms and training centers that resemble those in the China offices. The game helps potential hires learn the daily routine of a Deloitte professional. Players are even encouraged to “chat” with current Deloitte employees to get a better sense of the company culture and goals.
Since its launch in 2010, 48,500 of those who virtually toured the China offices followed up on the company’s career page. 
Before you start planning your own recruiting game, consider the pros and cons. Gamification is effective because it can test a skill set, associate the company with something people enjoy and give a feel for the culture of the workplace. But the technique also requires tech-savvy skills. Be realistic – if you don’t have the access to the technology (or IT staff), this tactic might not work best for you.
If the pros outweigh the cons, identify the skills necessary of the position you want to fill. Determine what platform you will use to get the game in front of your ideal hires. Assess your company culture and consider adding elements that indicate what it will be like to work for your company. Ideally, you should create a game that is universally enjoyable — while not every player will be a qualified candidate, gamification is a good way to increase brand awareness.


Any job applicant can claim that he’s a hard-working, determined and skilled individual. But the truth is you won’t get to see his work ethic until after his start date. And if he exaggerated his strengths, it’s too late. How can you know how a future employee will conduct himself in advance? Go undercover and catch him in action.

First Merit Bank’s secret shoppers

Companies often send recruiters to job fairs, colleges and networking events, but First Merit Bank finds talent in more innovative locations. Recruiters often patrol retail stores and seek out those with the best customer service skills. They frequently purchase merchandise, testing whether the salespeople will effectively up-sell them. But the assessment doesn’t stop there. The talent agents return the merchandise to test how the salesperson handles a return.
Because so many retail establishments overwork and underpay (and often have poor hours), First Merit Bank hires many from the retail industry. Though the recruits might not have experience in banking, they’re pursued because of their customer service skills, which can be applied to various industries.

volkswagen undercarriage under car wanted mechanics hidden messageVolkswagen’s hidden job ad

When Volkswagen needed talented new mechanics, the European car company sent “undercover” employees to drop off damaged cars at repair shops across Germany. On the undercarriage of each car was a job ad.
The unique placement of the job ads branded Volkswagen as an innovative company and brought in a number of new talented mechanics. And recruiters interacted with each mechanic when they dropped off a car, giving them a feel for whether the worker would fit its company culture.


This tactic is all about location. Where do your ideal hires spend their free time? If they’re currently employed, where would they work? If you can find your talent in their comfort zone, they won’t be putting on a show to try to impress you — you’ll get to see how the potential employee really behaves.


Smaller companies and start-ups often lose talented prospects to larger, more reputable corporations. So how can lesser-known companies stand out against the well-established competition? These examples demonstrate how a small fish can stand out in a big pond.

Red5’s iPod incentive

When looking for talent, online videogame maker Red 5 struggled to compete with well-known companies. Job ads and industry fairs positioned Red 5 directly next to the competition, which President and CEO Mark Kerr said “diminished the perception of the opportunity.”
The 20-member staff at Red5 assembled a list of 250 top game developers and spent four months learning everything they could about each. They played the developers’ games, followed their blogs and stalked them on social media sites. The team whittled the talent pool by looking for those capable of producing the animations and techniques they wanted in their games. Each of the 100 “dream hires” received an iPod with personalized engraving and artistic packaging. Kerr recorded a personalized message on each MP3, talking about the candidate’s past work and inviting him to apply for a position with Red5.
More than 90 of the 100 recipients responded to the offer and three left existing jobs to work for Red5. An added bonus: The creative over-the-top pitch generated a good deal of media buzz for the small, relatively unknown company.

Gyro Sandwhich Bags recruitment campaignGyro’s lunchtime takeover

Gyro International, a London-based ad agency, started 2010 with the goal of growing its creative department by 50%. To jumpstart recruitment, the innovators at Gyro identified the strongest competitors in the area and did research to determine the most frequented lunch spots for each competitor’s employees.
The creative company contacted restaurant owners and convinced them to replace 100,000 regular sandwich bags with Gyro bags; each replacement bag included messages like  “Should I stay? Should I go?” and “Is your career going somewhere?”
Soon, strong candidates employed by competitors were eating straight out of the Gyro recruitment message. The 100,000 sandwich bags were distributed over one month, and within a few weeks, Gyro saw a 20% increase in web traffic and made three hires, including a senior creative manager.


While poaching directly from competitors may be frowned upon, it is useful to brainstorm creative ideas to help you stand out. Ask yourself what makes your company unique and why these already employed candidates should come to you. Once you have the answer, determine a creative medium in which to spread the message so it effectively reaches your dream candidates without stepping on too many toes.


When your open position requires a niche skill, you can quickly grow tired of sifting through resumes of unqualified applicants.
The following three companies instituted challenges or puzzles that required the niche skill the company needed. The results of such challenges can quickly show whether an applicant is qualified and deserves further consideration.

Quixey’s one-minute challenge

When Quixey, a start-up in Silicon Valley, needed help identifying talented engineers, executives turned to puzzles to test the abilities of hopefuls trying to make their way into the Silicon Valley world. Competing with the likes of Google and Facebook, Quixey knew they had to be innovative and showcase a fun company brand.
For one day each month, talented engineers can win $100 by correctly solving a 60-second computer programming problem. To qualify to participate, interested engineers must answer a series of three practice problems. On the big day, winners walk away with cash — and Quixey gain exclusive access to talented candidates.
CTO and co-founder Liron Shapira says some of the best hires have come through the Challenge. “We have one employee named Marshall who we hired through the Challenge,” Shapira notes. “He was in Grand Rapids, MI. He’s one of our best engineers but he has no college degree, and he wasn’t in Silicon Valley. The only way you can find and hire someone like Marshall is to get creative.”

Google’s cryptic billboard

In 2004, a billboard in Silicon Valley read “{first 10-digit prime found in consecutive digits of e}.com”. Brainiacs who calculated the answer to the mathematical puzzle knew the billboard directed them to And when they visited the site, they were presented with another challenge. Only those who entered the correct answer were re-directed to a page that said:
“Nice work. Well done. Mazel tov. You’ve made it to Google Labs and we’re glad you’re here. One thing we learned while building Google is that it’s easier to find what you’re looking for if it comes looking for you. What we’re looking for are the best engineers in the world. And here you are.”
The unconventional sourcing strategy is effective for several reasons. First, the billboard generated buzz on mathematics and engineering blogs and forums even before anyone knew the billboard was the work of search engine superstar Google.
In addition to engaging the right audience, the puzzle worked as an effective filter for the applicant pool. Only those who could figure out the billboard riddle, were curious enough to visit the website, and continued on to correctly solve another puzzle were invited to apply. This left Google with a group of candidates that clearly enjoyed and excelled at solving complex puzzles.

SeatGeek’s site hacking

In 2010, SeatGeek, now the world’s largest event ticket search engine, sought intellectually curious and talented individuals to join their team. To start the search, SeatGeek introduced its first challenge to prospective engineers: Hack into the back-end of SeatGeek’s website in order to submit their resume.
The challenge worked so well that SeatGeek now requires all programming applicants to hack into the site before they can submit a resume. The best will complete the task in under ten minutes. Anything longer than that and SeatGeek is not interested in the application.
SeatGeek has expanded its recruiting and application challenges to sales and office management positions, asking them to analyze a set of SeatGeek data, publish a sample blog post and promote content via social media as part of their applications. By creating these challenges, SeatGeek now has become extremely competitive in the recruiting world, with upwards of 100 qualified applicants per position.


The puzzles administered by these three companies provided each with a pool of qualified applicants. Each challenge required candidates to prove a relevant skill set.
To employ this tactic, think about the top skills you seek. Then create a puzzle or challenge that can effectively test the given skill or skill set. Be sure to place the challenge somewhere your ideal hires are sure to see it, whether that’s a billboard, a website or a link in your job post.


Similar to puzzles and challenges, contests can bring out the best in possible applicants. The promise of competition and the chance at a prize will attract ambitious and hardworking individuals.
In addition to drawing in possible applicants through the pool of contestants, this type of event brings positive energy and publicity to your company and attracts a plethora of onlookers who are interested in the subject and could, too, be beneficial to get to know.

Department of Defense’s robotics race

In 2003, the U.S. Department of Defense wanted to upgrade the ground vehicles used in the battlefield. At the time, any unmanned vehicles were operated by remote control, and the Department of Defense dreamed of self-guided vehicles that required no human control.
To find engineers with the talent and innovation required for the project, the Department of Defense sponsored a “Grand Challenge” contest. Each participating team created a 100% autonomous robot that could steer itself using computerized mapping systems. On the day of the contest, each team’s robot competed in a 250 mile race over difficult terrain.
Dozens of companies, universities and computer scientists participated — all of whom fit the job description. In addition to creating contacts with qualified participants, the Department of Defense recruiters mingled with spectators, who presumably shared an interest in the specific type of engineering.

MGM Grand’s Iron Chef competition

Food and Beverage MGM Grand’s Iron Chef competitionWhile most companies use contests to recruitt outside talent, MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas held a competition to discover hidden internal talent. When the hotel needed a new head chef for its four-star eatery, MGM ran its own version of popular reality show “Iron Chef.”
A team from each of MGM’s 16 eating establishments (ranging from fine dining top chefs to cooks in the employee diner) was given a secret ingredient and a week to come up with a menu. During the Culinary Kitchen Cup contest, each team rushed to put together a four-course meal in the 1-hour time limit.
A 23-year old sous-chef, who was working at a 24-hour coffee shop before the contest, emerged as the leader of the winning team and became the new head chef for the upscale Japanese restaurant. And, to top it off, sales at the upscale eatery increased by 400% under the new culinary leadership.
In addition to successfully filling the position, the contest sent a positive message to all MGM employees:  Performance and talent are rewarded and there’s room for growth and movement up the employment ladder.


Whether you’re looking to promote within your company or recruit talented external applicants, contests give you exposure to qualified candidates. Think about which talent your unfilled position requires and design a competition that both measures the required skill and attracts the type of person you seek. And be sure to network with not only the competitors but the spectators who also share the interest.
Even if you don’t end up filling the position with one of the contest competitors, contests increase brand awareness and promote a positive company image. If your contest is creative enough, you might even generate some free PR and media buzz.


We all know how effective word-of-mouth can be when searching for your next employee superstar, but how can you foster an active and effective referral program without making it seem forced? While many companies stick to the promise of monetary rewards to foster employee referrals, recent studies have found that only 11% of employees make referrals because of the opportunity to earn bonus income. Some companies go above and beyond monetary incentives to refer employees.

Quicken Loans’ talent scout training

Quicken Loans’ talent scout training
Quicken Loans Talent Scouts
Quicken Loans, the world’s largest online retail mortgage lender, boasts an effective and intensive referral program that turns every employee into a “talent scout.” Through a creative training program, Quicken teaches its employees how to build a team of successful recruits.
As part of the training program, employees receive baseball-style training cards, complete with chewing gum, featuring photographs of all-star recruits who had joined the company through successful referrals.
After receiving a better than expected turnaround (64% of new hires now come from referrals), Quicken has since invested even more time and money into its referral program, employing a lineup of high-energy talent scouts whose sole job is to encourage strong referrals from current employees and to give these referrals special attention.

Carmax’s ‘Who do you know?’ bracelets

In 2012, Carmax, the largest used-car retailer in the United States, needed a new way to go about fueling employees for its busiest season. The Carmax recruiting team decided to get creative and put a spin on the referral process.
Each Carmax associate received a blue jelly bracelet with the question “Who do you know?” and the Carmax logo carved in it. The bracelet served as a reminder for associates to invite people they believe to be a good fit to apply at Carmax, and it provided an easy conversation starter with friends and family who asked questions about the bracelet.
The company says it only hires about 1 out of every 35 applicants, and approximately 32% of new hires are referred by employees.


Referral programs can be one of the most effective recruiting strategies when utilized correctly. For one, candidates are more likely to trust first-hand accounts and recommendations from people they know rather than an ad for hire. And the referral provides an automatic reference for the hiring manager. Additionally, referral programs are a cost-effective way to target talent.
To make your referral program a success, choose the employees who model what you’re looking for in a new hire. Make the program fun for your employees or provide some sort of incentive — rewarded referrers are more likely to be proactive than those that aren’t incentive.


Social media websites have become the modern day equivalent of newspaper print recruitment methods. Through websites like Facebook, recruiters are able to reach a wide audience and target possible candidates for hire.
Companies around the world use social media everyday when recruiting, but some notable businesses have gone a step beyond this, using unique platforms to showcase their company culture or creating shareable content to foster a viral campaign.

The New Traditionalists’ ‘Help Wanted’ board

While Pinterest may not be the first social media platform that comes to mind when looking to recruit, NYC furniture company The New Traditionalists made it work. The company wanted to create a stronger employee brand and target recruitment candidates, so they turned to the popular social media site, creating a board of annotated pictures and quotes that are entertaining and informative.
After attracting a strong following, The New Traditionalists created a board named “Help Wanted!” with a theme of “search for the client services superstar.” The New Traditionalists filled the board with an array of visuals from famous movies, characters and humorous images.
The New Traditionalists’ 'Help Wanted' board Pintrest
The New Traditionalists used Pinterest as a platform for showing candidates the culture of the company. And the use of this particular social media site also created a community of like-minded individuals with whom the company could share content and advertise the brand.  To date, The New Traditionalists have over 1,800 followers on their “Help Wanted!” board alone.

Hard Rock Cafe ‘Work for Us’ app
Hard RockWhen The Hard Rock Cafe faced the challenge of sourcing 120 server- and manager-level positions in four weeks, the company knew it needed an affordable way to rapidly attract applicants. Recruiters felt that many of its consumers were viable candidates, so Hard Rock turned to Facebook to both improve its brand and attract applicants.
After creating a Facebook page and “Work for Us” app from scratch and attracting fans through innovative music-related content and rewards, Hard Rock’s Facebook page went from 0 to 1,000 fans in less than 24 hours and up to 6,100 in four days. Hard Rock’s viral movement was successful because the company recognized its audience and the type of content that audience typically shared and translated this into the creation of a strong employee brand.
The viral campaign resulted in 1,000 interviews and 120 hires with a 95% acceptance rate. While Hard Rock typically spends $25,000 on recruitment campaigns, this whole campaign only cost $2,000, resulting in an ultimate cost per hire of $16.


Old fashion recruiting techniques can be very impersonal. By using social media effectively, you can invite individuals to get a taste of the company culture and the corporate family before they even apply for a job.
Ask yourself “How do I want to welcome my candidates?” and “What aspects of my company culture are the most marketable?” There are dozens of social media platforms that are underutilized and can become a “home” for possible recruits to get a taste of what working for your company would be like.
To take your social media tactics to the next level and foster a viral campaign, you must first determine where your target recruits spend their time online, how to play to their interests, and what type of content would stand out. Creating content that’s both share-able and original is not an easy feat, but with the right targeting techniques and platform choices, you can reach more candidates than you ever thought possible.

source: HR Morning

How to hire and keep top performers [INFO GRAPHIC]


You know how hard it is to find A-list players — and then hold on to them once you get them. Here are some good tips every HR manager have at his or her disposal.
The info is courtesy of Jobvite — and comes in a handy, easy-to-read info graphic. Here are some of the highlights:

What to do

What are the best tactics for finding top performers? Jobvite suggests that firms:
  • mine their applicant tracking system for previous applicants
  • build their network with other recruiters
  • invite potential candidates to company events, and
  • build on already existing relationships.

Don’t forget those not actively looking

Another thing to keep in mind: Just because your dream candidate is already employed doesn’t mean he or she isn’t looking to make moves.
The proof?
  • Almost 85% of employed people consider themselves passive job seekers
  • Six out of every 10 U.S. workers is open to the idea of a new job, and
  • nearly 40% of staff members frequently consider quitting their jobs.


Once you have that stellar employee, it becomes a whole other job to retain him or her.
And while hiring may fall to HR or recruiting managers, many different members of an organization play a role in ensuring someone stays onboard with you and doesn’t jump ship.
So what are the best ways to keep the best people?
  • Conduct “stay” interviews to get at why people stay at your company — and what would make them leave
  • Work on morale by creating a happy workplace environment, and show employees you’re invested in their success by offering financial rewards and incentives
  • Foster an open-door policy and strive for better communication, and
  • If possible, promote from within — all-star employees crave new opportunities and challenges.
source: infographic

They gave him the job he asked for — and he said it was ‘adverse employment action’

You’d think that giving an employee the transfer he applied for would make him happy. Instead, it got this firm sued – and an appeals court has remanded the case for trial.  
Apparently, ’tis the season for crackbrain legal rulings.
Deleon v. kalamazoo county road commission
You’ll remember the recent story of a federal court awarding legal fees of $700,000 to a plaintiff who had been awarded only $27,000 in a discrimination case. Now we have the story of Robert Deleon, an employee of the Kalamazoo County (MI) Road Commission who applied for an internal transfer to the post of  equipment and facilities superintendent.
The job description for the position Deleon sought described the working conditions as “primarily in office … and in garage where there is exposure to loud noises and diesel fumes.”
Initially, he was passed over in favor of another candidate. But then the job came open again, and he was transferred to the post.
All’s well that ends well, right? Not so much. Deleon eventually sued the county, saying the transfer was a retaliatory “adverse employment action” motivated by discrimination.

No surprises in working conditions

There’s more craziness here. Deleon never withdrew his initial request for the transfer, nor did he complain at the time he received the transfer.
After a lukewarm review, Deleon accused his supervisors of “setting him up to fail.”
In its ruling, the appeals court judge wrote, “Deleon provided evidence that he was exposed to toxic and hazardous diesel fumes on a daily basis … He testified further that he had to wipe soot out of his office on a weekly basis … As a result, Deleon claims that he contracted bronchitis, had frequent sinus headaches, and would occasionally blow black soot out of his nostrils,” concluding that DeLeon’s statements “present sufficient evidence that the work environment was objectively intolerable.”
Wait. Didn’t Deleon know about the working conditions when he originally asked for the job?
The court also noted that Deleon “applied for the position with the intention of commanding a substantial raise,” which he didn’t receive. That, in the court’s judgment, bolstered Deleon’s argument that his eventual transfer was “involuntary.”

‘The answer escapes me’

The best rebuttal of this head-scratching decision comes from a scathing dissent written  by Judge Sutton of the appeals court.
The [employer's] decision to give Deleon what he wanted, what he persisted in seeking when at first he did not succeed, did not amount to an adverse employment action, much less a retaliatory one. Deleon voluntarily applied for the job with full knowledge of its pros and cons, making it difficult to fathom how he could premise a claim of retaliation on the transfer alone.
A retaliation claim requires the employer to do something bad to the employee — something that might ‘have dissuaded a reasonable worker from making or supporting a charge of discrimination.’ … That concept cannot be bent and stretched to cover an employer’s decision to grant an employee’s request for transfer. …
Deleon applied for the job with full knowledge of the conditions — and indeed complained when he did not initially get the job. An adverse employment action requires conduct by the employer that would hinder a reasonable employee from complaining about discrimination.
How could a reasonable employee interpret the granting of a sought-after transfer as a warning not to complain about this or that conduct of the employer? The answer escapes me.