12 Innovative Recruiting Strategies That Savvy Companies are Using

As seen on LinkedIn Talent Blog (July 10, 2017).

If you want to gain significant competitive advantage, you need to use strategies superior and different from your competitors’. The “act differently” principle for recruiting means that to successfully attract your industry’s top talent, you must separate yourself from your talent competitors by offering innovative but effective new recruiting strategies.

We know that recruiters understand the need for more innovative approaches because a recent LinkedIn survey ranked “innovative strategies” as the #1 issue they wanted to learn about. And because one of my areas of focus is to track best practices in recruiting, I have compiled a list of what I have found to be innovative recruiting strategies that have been implemented in areas where most corporate recruiting functions do little or nothing.

Innovation is unfortunately rare in HR, so having it within the recruiting process sends a powerful message to candidates that innovation and boldness permeate the firm. These innovative recruiting practices are broken down into the three strategic areas of recruiting: Employer Branding, Sourcing and Candidate Assessment.

Employer Branding Innovations

1. Change your employer brand rapidly using TV ads 

Most of the message channels where a corporation can share information covering their employer brand are unfortunately primarily seen only by active prospects. To improve your brand image among the other 80% of the population, you must place your message were non-active jobseekers will see it. And the most innovative way to do that quickly is through employer brand building TV ads.

The best illustration of this approach is the ads run by General Electric. Their “Owen ads” helped to shift the image of GE so that it would also be viewed as a technology company. Because many firms need to change their staid image and to get prospects to view the firm as a fast-moving firm driven by technology, you should consider utilizing TV ads because they resulted in an eight times increase in applications at GE.

2. Virtual reality recruiting is about to explode

Traditional videos have proven to be powerful in revealing the excitement of working at a firm. However, virtual reality simulations are clearly a much superior way to reveal the excitement of a job and a company. The British Army and General Mills are already using VR headsets to show a much higher level of excitement, realism and detail to build their employer brand and to excite prospects. Using virtual reality also sends a message to recruiting prospects that the firm is on the leading edge of technology.

3. Build your employer brand with authentic videos and messages

If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine the value of a video. Unfortunately, most corporate branding videos are less than 100% convincing because they are obviously created by PR people. Instead, what is needed is authentic messaging in the form of videos that make it easy for targets to feel the excitement at a firm. Deloitte’s Film Festival stands out because it was the first to encourage its employees to make short videos (over 300) that demonstrated why their firm was exciting.

Marriott later followed up with its own employee generated videos. McDonald’s places its employee generated videos on Snapchat. Firms like Quickstop further reveal the excitement of their jobs by adding video job descriptions that are made by the team members or managers. In some cases, even narrative messaging can quickly send a powerful message that your firm is different, for example, Kayak uses a simple phrase like “no stupid meetings” as part of its job descriptions.

Candidate Sourcing Innovations  

4. Recruiting on alternative sites where your targets hang out

Spreading your recruiting message and posting jobs on large social media sites like LinkedIn is now the norm. What is new is spreading your message on niche social media sites that are frequented by your target recruiting audience. Amazon’s posting of its AWS jobs on the controversial dating site Tinder fits the new definition of innovative. McDonald’s use of Snapchat and Goldman Sachs use of Spotify are also excellent examples of how firms can use market research to identify unique channels that are frequented by its target recruits.

Virgin Atlantic found a unique channel by recruiting its customers on its seatback TV screens. And Virgin Trains found the most unique source of talent for all, by successfully recruiting workers as they are released from prison.

5. Raid your talent competitors

By far the boldest action in recruiting is to purposely raid your competitors. When you hire great talent directly from a competitor, your firm gets better, while the target firm gets weaker. Uber directly targeted its competitor’s drivers by riding with them and offering a bounty referral bonus when a competitor’s driver or trainer was hired.

More recently, Facebook directly targeted Google employees with their “hit them where it hurts” outrageous salary offers. And finally, in what may be the craziest recruiting action. Kiwi.com used an aerial drone with its “smart people wanted” recruiting banner to fly outside office building windows in an attempt to recruit away developers from other firms.

6. Hold a National hiring day to create a buzz

Traditional job fairs are so common that they garner little notice. However, when a firm announces a national hiring day, it is likely to get a large amount of both local and national free publicity. Firms like Chipotle and McDonald’s have successfully used this approach to hire thousands of people nationwide on a single day.

7. A story inventory dramatically improves referral results

It’s not administrative efficiency or a large contact database that makes employee referral programs the #1 source. Instead, it’s your employee’s ability to authentically sell top prospects by spreading real stories that make working at the company “come alive.” Stories have such a high impact because unlike most facts and figures, employee spread stories are remembered for a long time.

Google’s innovative Project Buffet is an internal story inventory. It provides interviewers and employees who want to develop referrals with a wide range of stories covering why the firm is an award-winning place to work, its corporate culture and its products. Effectively spreading exciting stories is part of Google’s approach that gets them nearly 3 million applications per year.

8. Develop a “most wanted” talent pipeline

Developing a talent pipeline is one of the most strategic approaches to recruiting. This approach is powerful because it allows a firm to identify top recruiting prospect long before you actually need them so that you have more time to sell them.

Red 5 Studios identified “100 dream prospects” and then they spent many months researching, building relationships, assessing and selling them. This innovative approach allowed them to land fully employed top quality prospects that could never have been successfully hired using traditional active sorting approaches.

9. 100% remote college recruiting expands the candidate pool

Universities have changed dramatically over the last decade, but university recruiting is for the most part still stuck in the past. Instead of the traditional on-site campus visits where firms can only afford to visit a handful of campuses, Nestle Purina led the way in shifting to a remote college recruiting model.

Since then Goldman Sachs and Unilever have also transitioned to a 100% remote recruiting model, and as a result, they can inexpensively attract top students from literally every campus around the world.

Candidate assessment innovations

10. Technology allows recruiters to focus on other things

Many believe that the use of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) in recruiting is years away. However, Unilever has already adopted an AI-driven college hire candidate sorting and assessment approach. The process begins by using a LinkedIn profile instead of a resume, and then it uses AI to select the best prospects. Next, it uses a series of online games to further narrow down the field. Then it uses HireVue recorded video interviews to further assess the best candidates using criteria that include the assessment of facial expressions. Only then are the final candidates offered an in-person interview.

Well over 250,000 applicants have gone through the process. And antidotal evidence indicates that the 450 hires that it has produced at least match the quality of hire from the old recruiter-driven process.

11. Text interviews have many advantages

The best way to reach recruiting targets is to use the communications approaches that they favor. And since over 70% of mobile phone users use text, it makes sense to conduct initial interviews using text messaging. Firms like Aegis Worldwide have begun to use text interviews because they are easy to schedule and they can reduce biases. Chatbots can even be programmed to conduct the text interviews. Because the approach is unique, it may also send a message that your firm is technology savvy. You can also initially contact recruiting prospect via text messaging because it produces such a high response rate.

12. Improve the candidate experience by reducing stress

When candidates are unnecessarily stressed, their performance during interviews significantly decreases. The stress may also cause candidates to drop out of the interview process.

Firms like Blackberry and J&J have helped to improve the candidate experience by reducing this unnecessary stress by explaining each of the recruiting steps in detail. In addition, because traveling to the interview can cause stress, the use of remote video or Skype initial interviews can help and also save on travel costs. It’s also important to realize that if you offer a customer product or service, many of your interviewees may be customers.

For example, Virgin Media utilized data that revealed that when you are interviewing your own customers for jobs, a bad candidate experience will cost you millionsbecause many of your current customers will subsequently drop your product.

Final Thoughts

The new world of recruiting includes global talent shortages and the introduction of new technologies and data-driven approaches. And that means that we are entering a new era in recruiting where bold innovation is no longer rare. And that means if you want to keep up with the best firms, you need to constantly benchmark all new and innovative recruiting practices.

Of course, everyone has his or her own definition of what is innovative. But I have chosen examples that reveal a level of boldness, while at the same time not being outrageously expensive or complex. If you have examples of innovative recruiting strategies, message or connect with me me on LinkedIn and share your ideas.

Image: rawpixel & pixabay

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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