5 Secrets to Smarter Staff Recruitment

Set your business apart from competitors by adopting innovative strategies to attract top talent.
job applicants
Fun custom videos and clever job descriptions are fun ways to attract employees. (Photo: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock)

A hard-­working, dedicated staff is worth its weight in gold. But to build a dream team, business owners need to get creative during recruitment to gain the attention of top talent.

From revving up your benefits package to showing off a fun company culture, here are five creative recruitment strategies to help you bring in the best.

Express your company’s culture

Your company’s culture is what sets you apart from competitors in the eyes of job seekers, who are looking for environments and teams that match their personalities.

Attract the right candidates by promoting your best qualities, whether it’s your work-­hard, play-hard principles, your animal­-friendly office, your charity-­focused volunteer initiatives or your charmingly weird staff.

“We have fun, custom videos of our employees to show what it’s really like here, and to show our goofy side,” said Courtney Mundell, who represents Eyefluence, a San Francisco-­based eye­-interaction technology company. “One video is titled ‘are you weird enough for us?’ It’s a great series.”

Boost your benefits

In many industries, a core benefits package is expected, so don’t expect star candidates to come running for a ho­-hum health care package. Amp up your benefits with irresistible options they won’t find anywhere else. New employees who go through training at Zappos and decide the company isn’t right for them receive $2,000 just to walk away from the job. Fidelity promises up to $10,000 to relieve employees’ student debt. Johnson & Johnson offers a concierge service that can take care of errands like going to the post office.

These extravagant offerings might be out of reach for small businesses, but lower-­cost perks such as gym reimbursement, flextime, dog-­friendly offices and regular catered lunches might be just the spark your company needs to recruit lead talent.

Break the job title mold, and get creative with your posting

Boring job descriptions tend to yield mediocre candidates. Daniel Barnett, CEO of WORK[etc], a small business CRM software platform, decided to advertise vacancies by crafting clever job titles.

“When we advertised for a technical writer, the job descriptions we were competing with all had dull, cookie-­cutter titles — something like 117 job postings all titled ‘technical writer.’” To stand out, “We advertised for a half unicorn, half technical writer. We then used the copy to describe the role and explain the unicorn reference as the rare breed of animal who can not only write technically but do so in a way that is actually interesting.”

The listing drew responses from promising candidates and also increased traffic on social media.

Get Sarah Dabby, head of talent at ClickTime, also gets creative with job postings.

“One of our most successful recruiting strategies revolves around writing interactive ads,” she said. “For instance, when we recruit quality assurance testers, we never post a standard ad listing the employee’s role and responsibilities. Instead, we post a short ad that’s riddled with errors and ask candidates to write a cover letter identifying as many errors as they can find.”

Challenge candidates

More than ever, companies are using innovative challenges to test a potential recruit’s skills and dedication and provide a sense of how he or she will perform on the job.

Jesse Harrison, founder of Zeus Lawsuit Funding, gave potential candidates a video project. “When we were looking for salespeople, we reached out to local universities and asked students to sell us anything in a one-­minute video,” he said. “We received hundreds of videos and this helped us quickly find the best salesman that we could have asked for.”

Look beyond job boards

Craigslist, Monster and Indeed are inundated with job listings, which means yours has less of a chance of being seen. Instead, tap your network for talent, and look in undiscovered places.

In addition to asking current staff if they know of jobseekers who would make great additions to the team, Harrison said he also contacts highly ranked universities nearby and asks if they have any graduating students looking for work.

“We will contact the specific departments that would fit our needs. For example, if we’re looking for an analyst, we will contact the math and statistics departments. This is an untapped source for finding competent candidates. Business owners can adapt it by calling or emailing the relevant departments of their local universities.”

Other options include searching freelance networks (such as Upwork), reaching out to your customer base and hosting an open house for the community.

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