Recruiters have it tough. Finding just the right person for that open position can be as difficult as finding a particular grain of sand on the beach, but that’s assuming you’ve managed to find the beach in the first place. If you’re not getting the quantity of job applicants you want, you might think you have a recruiting problem. But rather than spending hours re-wording your job descriptions to make them seem more exciting, or looking for yet another job board to post them on, maybe you should consider approaching your recruiting problem as a marketing problem. Software Advice did a little digging and found four basic strategies recruiters can use to win more and better candidates, or metaphorically, to find that beach.
Companies with little to no name recognition have a tough time recruiting. All things being equal, most candidates would rather pursue a job with a company they’ve heard of, rather than the one they haven’t. Posting job vacancies in all the usual places isn’t going to get you noticed.
Your best bet: try an unusual tactic. For instance, BBDO, an advertising company attempting to recruit talented young copywriters, created “The World’s First Napkin Book” and stuck it on lunch trays in universities to build awareness among young literature students. It worked. They got 15 times more applications the month after the campaign launched than the month before.
Marketers will tell you that creating awareness is only part of the challenge. You also have to instill preference — candidates have to want to work for you. Military and intelligence agencies worldwide know this all too well. In the face of declining recruitment levels, they’ve turned to video games to boost excitement about working for them. GCHQ, a U.K. government intelligence agency, embedded ad campaigns in Xbox Live games to get the attention of agile-minded 18 to 34 year olds. Meanwhile, the New Zealand government created its own video game to attract applicants to the Kiwi army. Even the U.S. Army has long been involved in the production of video games, with the intent of increasing its appeal to young men.
Generally, most companies make it a high priority to differentiate themselves from competitors. The same is true when recruiting.
To attract employees that stand out, you, as a company, have to stand out. But as James Clift, CEO of KarmaHire, explains, that’s hard to do. “There’s nine billion dollars spent on recruitment advertising a year,” he said, “And there’s all these amazing companies out there, and they really just all look the same right now with their job postings.”
Although your company might have a great work culture, so great that employees actually want to go to work in the morning, the job description —and even the job itself — might be similar to jobs offered by your competitors.
One thing that can make you stand out from your peers: culture and values. While Google might have jobs similar to those at other companies, what makes it stand out is its culture. As a small company, communicating what makes you different is a bit more difficult. Companies like KarmaHire are making it easier for employers to attract people who believe in your company’s mission and values.
As Clift says “The more you tell your story, the better people you attract.” And since the most direct way to let applicants know your story is usually through your website’s job page, Karmahire is reinventing the job post.
As Clift says, “We let companies create, instead of a job post, a really awesome landing page for their job that showcases their culture, their work environment, and what makes them unique.”
Good marketers know how to attract target customers with the right messages, delivered in the right way. Recruiters need to do the same. And since CEOs value creativity as “the most important competency for the successful enterprise of the future,” the recruiting and application process needs to mirror the applicants you’re trying to attract.
Wibidata has developed a playful recruiting process that attracts applicants while screening them at the same time. This software development company created a unique careers page on its site, designed not only to attract a larger quantity of applicants in the highly competitive tech sector, but also to filter out the best candidates — all through a custom version of Portal 1, a popular videogame. The game requires players to solve a series of puzzles before moving on to the next level. Those who complete the most levels are therefore the victors — and probably the best candidates for the jobs Wibidata is offering.
The tech sector’s not the only one trying to create space for candidates to shine in the application process. MasterCard launched a campaign last year to find great interns for its advertising department. The company asked applicants to “creatively” promote the benefits of a cashless society. The result: 350 qualified applicants, compared to its usual yield of 20 to 30 applications for advertising jobs. By challenging candidates to create original material — YouTube videos, blogs, Twitter campaigns, etc. — rather than complete a standard form application, not only did MasterCard effectively get the attention of potential candidates, but the application process became part of the interview. Applicants were allowed to showcase their skills and knowledge in the way they best saw fit, and the results were some pretty great interns for the advertising department.
What have we learned? Like Liz Ryan of the Human Workplace recently said, “The recruiting process is broken.” Traditional recruiting isn’t enough anymore. But by thinking like a marketer, you can attract more applicants — a whole beach of sand to sift through — and find just the one you were looking for.
Erin Osterhaus is the Managing Editor for Software Advice’s HR blog, The New Talent Times. She focuses on the HR market, offering advice to industry professionals on the best recruiting, talent management, and leadership techniques.