You’ve set up booths at job fairs. You’ve posted ads on job boards. You’ve taken out an ad in a trade magazine. Yet you still aren’t getting the candidates you’re looking for – or worse, perhaps you’ve made the wrong hire.
You’re not the only one experiencing this challenge – according to a 2017 Jobvite survey, 89% of recruiters believe the task will only grow more competitive over the next year.
Part of the challenge is that the best candidates are usually already working for someone else, meaning you need to find ways to lure them in.
To attract top talent, companies must work to implement inventive new recruitment strategies.
Many creative recruitment tactics also let you get to know candidates outside of the traditional interview setting, giving you a more well-rounded perspective.
1. Speed Dating
Hold a speed-dating-style “meet and greet” event for current employees and new prospects. When everyone has a few minutes to interact with each candidate, you’ll have a wealth of information on how current employees relate to them. Ask employees to write down their impressions right after meeting each person.
Make “speed dating” part of a fun open-house event with snacks and refreshments, creating a social atmosphere. After all, you want people to let down their guard and show their authentic selves.
At such events, many companies ask lots of questions that don’t directly relate to work in order to get a better sense of the candidate as a person, says William Poundstone in Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google? Interviewers might ask about hobbies, favorite foods, or best vacation spots, for example, or even pose silly questions like, “Which cartoon character would you be?” Such questions may prompt candidates to loosen up and think on their feet instead of giving a canned response.
2. Recruitment Camp or Workshop
The Blackwell Handbook of Personnel Selection, edited by Arne Evers, Neil Anderson, and Olga Smit-Voskuijl, describes how the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) held a five-day recruitment camp for 100 women who were interested in going into the field. They ended up selecting 83 to begin the testing process. Everyone was a winner – even those who didn’t advance to the next stage got an in-depth look at a career field as well as quality training.
Likewise, a company that was having trouble finding bricklayers held a 10-week training course to prepare recruits, say Donald L. Caruth, Gail D. Caruth, and Stephanie S. Pane in Staffing the Contemporary Organization.
While holding a five-day camp (let alone a 10-week course) might be out of your realm of possibilities, consider holding a smaller version of this event. Why not hold a day of workshops for people who are interested in a career in your field? You’re sure to draw in people who are proactive about increasing their skills and expertise, which weeds out those with less passion for their work. Plus, you’ll have the chance to observe how they think, behave in groups, and work.
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3. Newsletter for Interested Applicants
Publishing a newsletter for job candidates is a great way to keep them candidates engaged, even if you don’t have an open position at the moment. Your newsletter should give valuable advice on career development that will keep them reading. This gives them an incentive to stay connected with your company.
By nurturing these valuable connections, you’ll maintain a pool of talent to choose from when the time comes. Chances are, they also have friends in the industry who might be interested.
Why not make your interview process something candidates tell their friends and colleagues about? Making yourself known as the company that thinks outside the box will spark interest and draw more applicants.
Some companies are asking candidates to play a video game that provides data on how the person thinks and responds to challenges. The IRS uses two games for this purpose – one tests financial management skills, and the other assesses the analytical abilities of prospective financial crime investigators, according to William I. Sauser, Jr. and Ronald R. Sims in Managing Human Resources for the Millennial Generation. The Peace Corps has an online game called “Peace Corps Challenge” that tests players’ ability to help manage social crises in a fictional village, the authors say.
These types of games could be played during an open house, as part of an interview, or online as a preliminary screening tool.
5. Virtual Reality
Some employers are even venturing into the virtual realm to find new prospects. They’ve begun delving into the interactive online virtual world called Second Life, according to Sauser, Jr. and Sims. To get started, they create an avatar and set up a virtual recruitment office where they meet the avatars of real people who might be interested in a job with them.
If this sounds too wacky, consider that the IRS itself employs this strategy, maintaining a Second Life location called “IRS Careers Island,” say Sauser, Jr. and Sims.
This strategy allows you to target candidates across a broad geographical area, and it may be especially effective in recruiting younger candidates.
6. Personalized Flattery
The best talent might currently be working elsewhere, but that doesn’t mean they’re satisfied with their jobs. Research the top talent in your field and use the art of flattery to lure them in, even if they’re already working for someone else.
As John Putzier and David J. Baker state in The Everything HR Kit, “Superstars generally are not studying employment ads and job boards.” They’re referred to as passive candidates in a job search because a potential employer needs to do some serious legwork to reach them.
Once you’ve found these superstar candidates, try to learn something about them in order to woo them with personalized flattery. Their Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter activity might give you some ideas. Send them a present that you’ve clearly put some thought into, like a gift basket filled with something they love or tickets to a performance they’d enjoy.
Consider offering enticing and unusual rewards for joining your firm. For example, Google lets employees devote an agreed-upon percentage of their time to something they’re passionate about, even if it doesn’t relate closely to their daily tasks. Such perks show you care about employees’ career development and personal fulfillment.
7. Volunteer Day
You may already engage in acts of corporate social responsibility, like encouraging employees to volunteer for the community. Why not use such an event to spark the interest of potential new hires, too? Brand the event as a chance for potential recruits to get their foot in the door. On the promotional materials, invite people to “Join our community in __,” filling in the blank with your volunteer activity of choice. Let people know you’re looking to meet the sort of folks who want to give back to their community – those are the kind of people you want to bring on board.
You’ll probably be able to get some news out of the event as well. Send out a press release well in advance to let the public know about it and ensure you get coverage.
At the event, you’ll get to witness participants’ work ethic, interact with them outside of the typical interview setting, and see how they fit into the rest of the team as you work toward a goal together.
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8. Employee Incentives
Employees will often serve as your best recruiters, especially if you incentivize them. After all, they know firsthand what it’s like to work for the company, so potential candidates are likely to trust their advice.
One strategy is to give an employee part of a bonus when their recruit is hired, and the rest of it once the recruit has worked at the company for a certain period of time. Opting for more colorful rewards – such as the latest gadget – could make the challenge more fun.
Give all employees business cards that say “Tell them __ sent you,” suggests Forbes. When an employee meets a promising potential hire, they can write their name in the blank and hand the card to the recruit.
If an employee brings in a new hire, hold a party to celebrate, telling everyone about their accomplishment.
9. Jobcasting and Videos
Go the extra mile by producing media about your job openings or company culture. “Jobcasting,” a spinoff of podcasting, is a newer phenomenon that involves creating an audio recording to promote the job and your company. If you have a good sense of humor or a charismatic personality, this might work especially well for you. If not, find someone on your team who does. Featuring different employees’ voices describing their work and the company culture will also make the jobcast lively and engaging.
There are job search websites where you can post your jobcast, but you can also promote it through standard social media platforms like Twitter.
A silly commercial can show that your company is a fun and creative place to work. It doesn’t have to be long or expensive – even a 15-minute segment can leave audiences intrigued, bringing them to your website to learn more.
Google maintains an online library of videos that share employee testimonials and show what it’s like to work for the company in different roles.
10. Forums and Meetups
Participating in online forums about job-related topics gives you a way to reach people who aren’t necessarily scanning the classifieds for job ads. Look for forums where professionals in your field discuss questions and network with one another. Then, either privately message individuals whose expertise impresses you, or post information about job openings that anyone can view.
Similarly, look for social meetups for professionals or hobbyists in the field you’re targeting. Don’t rule out those who haven’t worked professionally in the field – amateurs might bring a great deal of skill and eagerness to learn to the table.
Once you’ve found a pool of stellar candidates, stay in close communication with them until you’ve made your decision. Today’s job candidates expect continuous engagement in the form of text or email updates about the process. They also want the process to be streamlined and efficient, says SHRM.
Most importantly, stop thinking of recruiting as something you do for a short while and then cease altogether. Rather, look at it as an ongoing process. You should always be recruiting, even when you don’t have an open position, Putzier and Baker say. Developing that mentality will help you make connections that you would never have cultivated otherwise, as recruiting will always be at the forefront of your mind. You may be surprised at where you find the most promising new talent!