As companies strive to appeal to the younger generations, many HR departments are still stuck in the world of boring corporate videos that tout the company’s accomplishments. Recognizing what millennials and Generation Z recruits want is one important part of recruiting young talent. Understanding how to appeal to this generation of rainmakers – people who strive to make a difference in the world through their career – is another step.
“Millennials and Generation Z are heroes and artists,” writes blogger Mark Coxon in an article about recruiting within the technology industries. “They need to be important, they want to be creative, and they strive to add value. Appeal to that FIRST.”
But how? Here are some recruiting tactics that look crazy, but worked for the companies that used them.
1. Make Recruiting a Game
BetterWorks, an enterprise software company based in Redwood City, California, hosts frequent game nights to recruit top engineers. They might invite candidates who were previously offered a job and turned it down, or those they are trying to recruit. Employees and prospects alike get together and play with or against each other in video games, board games, or card games.
Game night achieves several objectives, says Tamara Cooksey, VP of People Operations. “We’re branding the company, showing people the fun family they can be a part of,” she says. “We’ll choose attendees based on talent we have our eye on, as a way of keeping in touch.”
Gaming also provides insight into the personalities, strengths, and weaknesses of the candidates. Engineers tend to be socially awkward, and offering games as a focal point of the evening takes some of the pressure off, while letting the company gauge the participants’ thinking and reasoning skills, creativity, and competitiveness. “Game night lets us see if potential recruits fit our company culture,” Cooksey says. “We look to see if they’re interacting. Do they make eye contact? Do they get along with everyone?”
2. Recruit with a Twist (of Lime)
If you want to alleviate the social pressure of any recruiting situation, just add alcohol. “The best interviews are those which take place when you are your most relaxed,” says Steve Muccini, director of marketing Austin-based tech startup Ihiji (eye-HE-jee). “It exposes the candidate’s confidence, the same way a candidate might come across if they don’t really ‘need’ the job.”
Ihiji discovered this atmosphere at an annual Austin event, the Capital Factory start-up crawl. Held during the SXSW conference, technology incubator Capital Factory runs shuttles to Austin start-ups, who host their own parties inside their offices, and also hosts a big party inside the Capital Factory, complete with beer and margaritas poured freely by the participating companies. “Candidates and recruiters alike enjoy the positive energy and relaxed vibe of a party, and you’re certain to see hundreds of the sharpest candidates in a single night,” says Muccini.
The event fits well with the company’s culture, which includes a tradition of tasting craft beers on Friday afternoons. “If we don’t think the smartest candidate we could find would fit in to one of our relaxed Friday afternoon gatherings, then they probably won’t be a fit inside the overall culture,” says Muccini.
3. Make People Laugh.
To stand out amidst the sea of tables at a job fair, you need a hook, something to get people talking. Laughter appeals to people’s positive emotions and can help people relax. Hatch Staffing Services, a boutique staffing firm headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, achieved this with a consistent and eye-catching slogan, theme, and costumes at a large job fair. Hatch Staffing Services decided to emphasize the “flexible” aspects of the company, according to President Lori Malett. “We were offering ‘flexible’ staffing jobs to job seekers and ‘flexible’ staffing solutions to organizations adding staff,” she says. “We created a large banner with the ‘flexible’ jobs campaign, dressed up as Gumby and Pokey, and enthusiastically greeted passerbys. Many people stopped for pictures, which led to great conversations.”
Mallet reports the tactic culminated in finding many candidates and at least one on-the-spot hire. “He went home that night and told his family, ‘I am not sure what happened. I interviewed with Gumby tonight, who claimed to be the president of Hatch Staffing Services, and she offered me a job. I hope this isn’t a joke.’”
Why Should You Get Creative With Recruiting?
Recruiting is certainly no joke, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Put the “rec” (as in, recreation) into recruiting to capture candidates’ attention and also to assess how those candidates act and perform in everyday situations.
“In a startup, you are actively cultivating your company culture,” says Muccini. “To find not only the most qualified candidate, but the one who will fit best into that delicate, newly forming culture, you simply have to get face-to-face.”
And remember to cast a wide net, being open to any possibility you encounter – both in your recruiting tactics and in the candidates you aim to attract. “Be bold. Be different. And don’t recruit with a single focus as you never know what talent may pass by,” concludes Mallet.
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