Creative Recruiting Ideas


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A recent survey of small and medium-size metalworking manufacturers found that 91 percent of them are experiencing significant challenges in finding qualified employees. As I travel about the country meeting with manufacturers, many tell me that finding qualified team members is their number one challenge. What to do about it?

Not long ago, I stumbled across an article entitled “13 of the Most Creative Recruitment Campaigns,” by Ben Slater and posted on social-hire.com, a website in which the author compiles a summary of some of the more interesting strategies employed by companies with these efforts. 

In one example, well known furniture company, Ikea, placed job descriptions in every package of furniture it sold, enticing the purchaser to learn more about potential career opportunities. The company advertises jobs directly to customers who presumably already appreciate the value of the brand—brilliant!

Yes, brilliant, but likely not particularly practical to a contract machining outfit engaged in the business of providing product to its customers. Mining the employees of one’s customer may win the recruiting organization a great employee while losing a great customer. That math doesn’t work so well. But …

What about letting your suppliers know about your open positions? Many suppliers love to talk, and they may also know which of your competitors’ employees is in the market for a new position. Let them market your position for you.

Could your employees do the handy work for you? I recently read about a company that printed hundreds of business cards with the words “Our company is looking for great people. Call this number and tell them (blank) said you were awesome!” It then distributed the cards to its employees and asked them to hand one out, completing the blank with the employee’s name, every time they received great service. The person at the drive-through window offers exemplary customer service—give them a card. Auto repair guy, sporting goods rep, bank teller—you get the idea. 

Being always on the lookout for people with a knack for customer service and leadership potential is an outstanding recruiting tool. I was once on the dock of a manufacturer whereon a mishap occurred involving a forklift truck. As the lift truck was entering the back of a trailer, the wheels of which were not chocked, the trailer lunged forward, suspending the lift truck between the dock plate and the trailer. Thankfully, the lift driver escaped without injury. But what to do about the forklift? While a dozen bewildered employees stared on doing nothing, a non-employee contract truck driver named Dan, who just happened to be on the dock during the whole melee, sprung to action. He fashioned a tool using a come along and two lengths of chain, and in less than 5 minutes, the lift truck was safely back on the dock. The president of the company, who watched the entire episode, was suitably impressed by Dan’s quick thinking and leadership and invited him back for an interview the following week. Are you waiting for another résumé to drop on your desk, or are your eyes always open for your next potentially great hire?

Back to Slater’s article. Computer gaming company, Red 5 Studios, found itself in heated competition for talent with other software developers, so the organization’s enterprising leadership team came up with a remarkable strategy. First, they listed their 100 dream candidates—people they would love to have on their team if only they could entice them to join. Once these individuals were identified, Red 5 used social media to research their backgrounds and work histories. The CEO then recorded a personalized message for each individual on an iPod that was sent to the candidate. The message outlined the dream candidate’s work history and invited each to apply for a position with Red 5. According to Slater, 90 percent of the recipients responded to the invitation.

Not about to purchase 100 iPods? Understood. But why not make a list of 100 dream candidates? People in the industry, previous co-workers, friends and acquaintances of yours and your employees, who would make ideal teammates. Then devise a strategy to reach out to each of them. To set yourself apart, get creative!