Outrageous Recruiting Tools, Continued: 17 More Outrageous Approaches!

My last article on outrageous recruiting approaches gathered several new ideas and a great number of comments. The comments came from three basic categories of recruiters:

  1. Executive recruiters. Executive recruiters thought that the whole “outrageous recruiting” argument was comical and that the tools proposed were relatively mundane.
  2.  Advanced corporate recruiters. Advanced corporate recruiters were enthusiastic. They noted that they currently use many of these tools and even added a few new ones of their own. Unfortunately, less than 10% of corporate recruiters utilize these invasive strategies and aggressive tools. Those who do are as good as any executive recruiter.
  3. HR weenies. The third group were what some managers refer to as “HR weenies”. These corporate recruiters or generalists consider administration and candidate processing their primary recruiting role. They complained that the approaches I suggested were either unethical, illegal, or immoral. I find it humorous that these “weenies” have no trouble hiring executive search firms (whom we all know use these types of aggressive recruiting tools) to do their dirty work for them. Somehow, if leading executive search firms do it for you it’s okay, because even though we use their results, staying at arm’s length or not knowing what goes on behind the scenes somehow keeps their hands clean. These recruiters are satisfied to look for active candidates and essentially do very little more than screening administration. They the same ones who constantly complain that they “can’t find great candidates,” but in doing so they typify the quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”

Don’t Expect Different Results Unless You Try Different Tools The facts are clear: Aggressive recruiters don’t rely on common tools like large job boards, newspaper ads, and job fairs because they produce common results. You’re not really a recruiter if you search Monster.com or place ads and find the same people that a manager could find if they had the time. Real recruiters don’t merely substitute their time for managers’. They provide skills and use tools that no manager could. Headhunter-type recruiters (whether they be external or corporate types) survive and even thrive because they find people (and information about them) that common, easy-to-use tools just can’t find. These individuals charge a significant premium because they are willing to use “invasive” tools and build relationships with the people they identify over time. They focus on employed top performers, the hardest candidates to find and the hardest to convince. Advanced Recruiting Means… If your corporate recruiter can’t find great candidates, it’s time to shift your strategy and become much more aggressive?? in short, to become more like an executive search professional. That means:

  • Pre-identifying top talent before it is needed
  • Targeting currently employed professionals at top firms who are not actively looking for a job (finding them requires advanced tools)
  • Building a relationship with candidates over time
  • Identifying each candidate’s individual “job switch” criteria
  • Using persuasive skills to convince managers to adapt a job to the candidate’s unique needs in order to close hard-to-sell individuals

Additional Outrageous Recruiting Approaches These additional recruiting approaches can also be classified as pushing the envelope, as were the 14 approaches I listed in last week’s article. Again, I highlight these outrageous recruiting practices not because I expect most recruiters to utilize them, but merely to show that many corporate recruiters have become too conservative over time. (The recruiters who passed along some of these approaches are identified only by their initials.)

  1. Engagement, graduation and wedding announcements: “Many of these announcements contain the position that the announced individuals hold, as well as the facts around graduations from specific universities. Most of the time the announcements will tell you where the bride and groom work and what they do. You may not have an immediate need to hire any of these individuals, but I am a big fan of data mining and passive recruiting. These are definite leads down the road!” (from MS and JS)
  2. Alumni programs: “We have created numerous programs to help our clients recruit back top performers who may have left the company over the past six months to two years. Contacting them and letting them know of any changes at the company or for another opportunities that may not have existed before is a great way to re-recruit past employees. Many of these programs have resulted in 25-50% hire-back rates.” (from KD)
  3. Share a hotel: “One well-known firm set up a recruiting event in a major hotel, so this firm reserved an adjoining room to ‘share’ the people that came to the well-advertised event.” (from SP) “Another firm sent recruiters to mill around the hotel bar and lobby that was the site of a major competitor’s annual conference.” (from JS)
  4. Book stores and clubs: “When I needed to find a technical type for the computing services and design department, I asked people who did the job previously what kinds of things they were reading, doing, and talking about to get up to speed in the field. Off I went to the bookstore and started prowling for people reading those types of books. I interrupted some guys and asked questions loudly enough for others to hear, and managed to get several people talking to me and to each other. I produced my business card that showed I was a manager of recruiting and asked them if they knew anyone who was interested in ‘exploring employment opportunities with us.’ I walked away with nearly a dozen names and numbers, and had set up several interviews. I also inquired at the bookstore information desk if they had a technical book club that met there. They did have one such group, and I also learned that the local library in that area had such a group. I sent the leaders of those groups emails inquiring if they knew of anyone who might be interested in the position, which I had included with the message.”
  5. Chocolates: “I work with many recruiting entities in the DC area that seek to differentiate themselves from their competitors. To do this, they use our one-inch squares of bite-sized chocolates with a company logo, contact information, and special message to their clients on the back.” (from EC)
  6. Loan information: Identify brand new homeowners in your region through title searches and use them as recruiting targets. Welcome wagon services and realtors can also provide recruiters with names.
  7. Cards in a bowl: Recruiters pay restaurant owners who are close to major competitor facilities for the business cards in their “free lunch” bowl and use the information for recruiting.
  8. Use suppliers as referrals: Ask your suppliers to act as referrals sources. One recruiter actually dressed up in a vending service person’s uniform and escorted them through a competitor’s site.
  9. Buy telephone directories: Recruiters “buy” old (or new) hard-copy telephone directories from receptionists or employees.
  10. Compensation analysts: Some firms target compensation consultants from competing firms, who obviously know who the top performers are.
  11. Hire contractors: When hiring contract employees, specifically seek out those contract employees who have worked at competitors and use them to help identify names.
  12. Boarding pass: One major airline provides some employees with simulated “boarding passes” that can be handed to strangers to encourage them to apply for jobs.
  13. Would you like a job with that? Major quick-service chains have provided customers with recruiting information when they are served. Other retail chains have specifically targeted their customers and found them to be very productive hires.
  14. Invited open house: An “invite a friend to work” program has a simple premise: A firm needs to get candidates in the door if they are to have a real chance of closing the sale. It targets employed passive job seekers who wouldn’t apply for a job but who might come to an event to see what it’s like where “a friend” works. This differs from traditional “open house” programs, which are open to the public, in that individual employees invite people they know on a professional basis and who have the competencies you need.
  15. Hire them both: Forward-thinking companies have re-popularized the use of employee referral programs, which often entail a friend recommending to a friend. The next step is to hire two friends simultaneously as a “package deal.” The principal is really quite simple. Many of us have close friends and spouses who would love the opportunity to work at the same place as us. These close relationships are often so strong that it might be the only thing that would cause two employed friends to leave their current jobs.
  16. Onsite professional seminars: The people that continually learn and improve are the types of talent you want to recruit. These are the same kinds of people who regularly attend seminars. By holding professional seminars on your site you can physically draw them to your premises. When they arrive you can excite them with your facility, get them to meet your people, and show them your cool projects and tools?? all of this under the guise of helping them learn and do their current jobs better.
  17. Spider to resume date: Because top performers are in and out of the job market so quickly, it’s important to know exactly when they begin their job search. Since most technical candidates have their own websites containing their resume, smart recruiters send a “spider” to visit the “date” of the resume each day. When the date changes, it signals the fact that the individual has updated their resume and is undoubtedly about to begin a job search.

Conclusion These approaches are not for everyone, but they certainly can serve as a wake-up call to demonstrate that there are more aggressive recruiting approaches available that might allow you to get around those persistent recruiting roadblocks that you may be facing.

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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