10 Creative and Innovative Recruiting Ideas to Find Top Talent!
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If you are a recruiter, you may agree that the process is multifaceted. With the transformation of hiring to talent acquisition, many aspects are considered while selecting a candidate for your organization. Over time, recruiters have incorporated various methods to evaluate the skill and competency of a potential candidate as well as gauge personality traits and values for cultural alignment.

Candidates, on the other hand, have also stepped up to the challenge offered by recruiters. Common personal interview questions are aced by smart candidates through enough preparation and rehearsed answers. 

Monotonous and favourite questions, asked by recruiters, are often unrelated to the evaluation process making it predictable and inefficient. This calls for the need of introducing newer and more creative ways of recruitment. 

Why do you need creative recruiting ideas?

It is necessary to have out-of-the-box recruiting ideas for the following reasons:

#1 It helps you build a unique employer brand 

Candidates are often intrigued by the uniqueness of your recruitment process. Their curiosity and experience help you create an employer brand that stands out.

#2 It breaks the monotony of recruitment

Although organizations want their evaluation techniques to be repeatable, recruiters often take this literally by asking the same questions to every candidate (regardless of the role or skill). This makes the process monotonous and predictable for both the recruiter and the candidate.

#3 It reveals the ‘real’ response of the candidate

Interview questions and techniques, that are new and creative, don’t give the candidate much time to prepare and elicit natural responses and test the actual aptitude and skill.

#4 It creates higher engagement and a great experience

Creative interview questions keep the candidates involved by challenging them as well as create a great candidate experience through its uniqueness.

#5 It helps you get candidates with higher creativity and potential

Highly-skilled candidates are often enticed by challenges. Through a creative recruitment process, you have better reach into a high potential talent pool. 

What factors must you keep in mind while introducing creative recruitment?

Ensure that the creative activities elicit the expected skill, attribute or value for the role and the organization. The activities must be standardized and repeatable for a particular role. The tests must be challenging yet not complicated (especially, to evaluate!). 

The scoring or evaluation must be clear and objective and must assist data-driven hiring. The usage of technology for creative recruitment will be an added advantage.    

10 out-of-the-box recruiting ideas

#1 Showcase your employee value proposition and company culture

Abraham Maslow stated that human behaviour is motivated by several needs on physiological, safety, belonging, self-esteem and self-actualization needs. The employee value proposition (EVP) is aimed to showcase what the job can offer to a candidate. The simplest way to do this is to share employee testimonials. How existing employees feel about the organization is a great influencer for prospective candidates. Employee experiences also reflect the company culture, which is a great motivator for millennials and Generation Z.

Some companies which use employee experiences to attract candidates are:

  • John Deere calls their EVP their ‘Total Rewards’ package, which details the benefits that an employee will get if they choose to work with the company. They have published several employee stories on their website, across all designations in the hierarchy.  These stories highlight the aspects of company culture like Diversity & Inclusion, core values and their higher purpose.

They also have video testimonials depicting the career advancement of service technicians. There are also videos about the company’s support for military veterans, who are employed at John Deere. Other causes such as environmental sustainability and zero-emissions electric options.  

  • Fiverr is a freelance service market that created videos highlighting the freedom freelancers have. 
  • LinkedIn showcases its EVP, diversity and inclusion and several unique initiatives like supporting new parents and military veterans etc. It also launched a video to show what a  day in the life of a LinkedIn employee would be like. 
  • Deloitte invited its employees in the U.S. to participate in a Film Festival to make short videos that answered the question “What’s your Deloitte?”.  Employees submitted films about their lives and experiences at the organization. These videos were posted on an internal site and then rated by the filmmakers’ peers and colleagues. The top videos were used in recruitment to attract candidates.
  • Marriott also created videos that gave an insider’s perspective of how the philosophy works for Marriott. The video presents data-driven and anecdotal evidence to show how employees are valued and engaged in the company. 

All these testimonials and videos help create a strong employer brand and are very effective in attracting candidates. 

#2 Use social media

Social media is a superb way and also a creative way of reaching out to a younger talent pool. Apart from accessibility, social media also helps in consistent engagement between recruiters and candidates.

Many companies are using social media platforms to post jobs, engage with candidates and conduct reference checks. 

Some companies that used social media creatively in recruitment are:

  • McDonald’s created a customizable filter on Snapchat which made the viewer look like a McDonald’s employee. Interested applicants were invited to use the filter to create and submit a 10-second application called ‘Snaplications’, talking about themselves and why they would make good employees. McDonald’s also uses Spotify and Hulu to recruit millennials for several roles.
  • Zappos uses social media recruiting through Twitter and Instagram to engage with potential candidates. The company also showcases its brand, culture and EVP on YouTube, Pinterest as well as Facebook.  
  • Many start-ups as well as established brands use communities like StackOverflow and GitHub to hire technical talent. Some companies that use these platforms are ThoughtWorks, Solstice etc.

#3 Encourage internships

Internships and part-time opportunities are a great way of identifying talent as well as the right cultural fit for your organization. Many companies invest a great deal in interns not only to identify potential but also to create a strong employer brand. Companies can also create a buddy system between interns and future leaders that helps both parties to learn and develop their skills.

Some companies which invest a great deal in internships are:

  • John Deere has special internship programs and part-time jobs; some of the testimonials of interns are published on their website. The company also hosts an annual internship conference and trips for intern batches.
  • SAP offers internships in various business areas and believes that interns are the next generation of innovators. In the past, SAP has hired close to 3700 paid interns, who have worked and contributed to the business. 
  • Groupon offers meaningful projects to interns and allows them to contribute and accomplish. 
  • AT&T offers a 10-week AT&T Labs program that educates interns about the industry and innovations. It also helps interns interact with experienced people in the company. The company also provides an intern trip to NYC to see the Manhattan office, as well as offering office perks in their Florham Park, NJ location like gyms, hiking trails, and coffee shops on site.

#4 Host contests and competitions

Many companies host contests that test the skills of participants. You may have heard of contests like hackathons and robotics that test competencies and attributes in an implicit way. Contests are also enticing for candidates who are interested in the field and willing to take on challenges.

Some companies which have hosted contests are:

  • MGM Grand in Las Vegas hosted a cooking contest while looking for a new head chef for one of their Asian restaurants in its casinos. The contestants were given a secret ingredient and asked to put together a 4-course meal in an hour.
  • Lego is known to be very creative in a lot of aspects. It hosts a competition called ‘Brick Factor’ to find professional Lego Master Model Builders. Contestants are asked to build a model based on a given theme in two-day build-offs. The winner of the competition is given the job on the spot.
  • Menlo hosts ‘mass auditions’ several times a year where applicants work in pairs to complete an assigned task. This activity also encourages collaboration and teamwork.
  • Netflix runs Instagram-based contests while hiring for creative roles(e.g. Photographers) where it asks candidates to share their work.  

#5 Candidate journey roadmap

Candidates are asked questions in interviews like ‘Where do you see yourself 2/3/5/10 years from now?’ or ‘What is your goal?’

These questions often elicit standard, pre-rehearsed responses when the candidates do not even know what they can aspire to within the organization. A candidate roadmap offers visibility of the hiring experience, providing transparency to the process.

  • Airbnb has created a storyboard called ‘The Candidate Journey’ that explains the recruitment process including processes like decision-making, how candidate questions are answered and how their feedback is incorporated into improving the hiring process. 
  • Infosys launched an internal platform called ‘Compass’ to fill new or niche roles internally. Compass helped employees to grow in their careers and opt for roles within the company instead of seeking jobs outside.

#6 Host events, seminars, and workshops in colleges  

Campus hiring or collaborating with educational institutions to find fresh talent is a common recruitment method for many companies (also because it is cost-effective). Instead of just turning up in colleges and universities for hiring, many companies associate themselves with institutions for long periods.

Some examples are:

  • Chipotle posts informative content on its TikTok page, explaining the non-traditional benefits of employment in the restaurant business. This recruiting campaign led to a 7% increase in applicants from the month before, according to the Financial Post. It also held a coast-to-coast career day at all its restaurants to hire for its existing branches as well as additional, new locations. 
  • Nestlé Purina became the forerunner in the remote college recruiting model. Companies like Goldman Sachs and Unilever followed suit.
  • Buffer offers a paid 45-day boot camp or probationary period as part of the onboarding. New employees are invited to participate in this training to decide if they want to work with the company.
  • Dyson hires from high school through a customized hiring process. It offers a program where students get practical experience through work and study to eventually pursue graduation in Engineering. 

#7 Use gamification

One of the most creative methods (although expensive) to evaluate candidates is gamification. Gamification is a way of evaluating skills needed for the role as well as attributes such as quick thinking and decision-making.

Some companies that use gamification in hiring are:

  • Unilever runs a 20-minute game in the early stages of recruitment to screen candidates and filter the ‘right fit’. The game also includes behavioural assessment and offers detailed feedback to the candidate at the end of the test, which adds to a great candidate experience.
  • McKinsey & Company focuses on hiring candidates with strong problem-solving skills. through an interactive game. 
  • Lloyd’s Banking Group conducts assessment centres using a virtual reality tool, which has many simulated scenarios and puzzles to assess skills and attributes.
  • KFC introduced virtual reality through a game with Oculus Rift headsets. The game is a virtual escape room which does not let applicants ‘leave the room’ until they make the perfect chicken.
  • Google customizes its tests depending on the role and the skills needed to meet the role’s demands. These tests assess the candidate’s practical skills through a combination of coding quizzes and other tests. Tests may also include project work for an in-depth evaluation. The hiring decision is made unanimously by a team of recruiters and not left to a single person.

#8 Invite possible candidates to a ‘noble cause event’

Volunteers often exhibit desirable skills and attributes needed for a certain role. If your organization believes in and supports a noble cause, you could invite volunteers and engage with them to look for prospective hires.

According to the Social Purpose Institute, purpose-driven workers have 20% longer expected tenures, are 50% more likely to be in leadership positions, are 47% more likely to be promoters of their employers, and have 64% higher fulfilment levels in their work.

Some companies which invite volunteers are:

  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports several causes ranging from child health to emergency response. It also offers paid time for volunteering.
  • Frontiers’ employees organize spontaneous volunteering events with support from the company. 
  • Colgate-Palmolive believes in giving back to the community by participating in various programs involving health and hygiene, education etc.

#9 Use creative job titles

This is another way to reach out to the youth – especially Gen Z. Young people have redefined their work lives to be as comfortable as their personal lives with little need for jargon and rigid boundaries. This generation appreciates honesty, fluidity and transparency that can offer a good and comfortable work culture and a decent work-life balance.

Creative job titles and designations often catch their eye and encourage them to apply for jobs. Some examples are:

  • Chewy addresses the job role of a time and attendance HR candidate as ‘Time Ninja’.
  • Twitter created a title called ‘Tweeter in Chief’ which is a role to run the company’s official Twitter handle.
  • Kayak uses a simple phrase like “no stupid meetings” in its job descriptions.

#10 Rely on employee referral programs

Employee referrals have always been a reliable source of recruitment. It is known that 74% employers use referrals in their hiring process. Many organizations provide incentives to existing employees to increase their interest in the activity. These are cash incentives that can be as high as $2500!

However, some other companies use creative ways to dish out incentives for employee referrals:

  • Fiverr uses gamification for employee referrals and awards points to employees who share job openings on social media. It also created a public leader board to track the points employees earned. At the end of a specific period, employees with the highest points were rewarded cash, additional PTO, and other rewards like tickets.
  • Salesforce organizes Recruitment Happy Hours – get-togethers where employees can invite their referrals. This helps recruiters and candidates engage and get acquainted.
  • Accenture believes that referrals are a way of helping a friend or acquaintance get a job and the very act makes one feel good about themselves. To maximize this feeling of ‘doing good’, the company encourages its employees to donate a part of their referral bonus to a charity of their choice, which is matched by the company. 
  • Intel doubles its referral bonus when employees refer women and minorities (who are hired).

Wrap up

There are no boundaries to creativity. That said, you can get as creative as you like with your recruitment strategies, depending on your organization’s vision as well as scope. With careful planning and organized ‘trial-and-error’ with creative methods, you can easily create a seamless candidate experience and an employer brand image.

Like Dr Seuss said, “You’ll never be bored when you try something new. There’s really no limit to what you can do!”


FAQs on Innovative Recruiting Strategies

What should recruiters keep in mind while implementing out-of-the-box recruiting strategies?

While implementing any new out-of-the-box recruiting strategies, recruiters must keep the following points in mind:

1. The strategy must provide the right outcomes or results i.e., the desired skills and attributes needed for a role and the organization.
2. The methods must be repeatable for a particular role.
3. Creative techniques must be effective regarding cost, time, and effort.
4. The methods must be engaging and help in creating a positive candidate experience.
5. The recruiting team must be comfortable with adopting and implementing the methods.

How important are employee referral programs?

Employee referrals are possibly the best source for talent acquisition. Statistics show that 82% of employees rated employee referrals above all other sourcing options to yield the best ROI.[1] 45% of employees sourced from employee referrals also seem to stay for longer than 4 years.

Referrals increase reliability and reduce cost-to-hire. 

What is the simplest and most cost-effective method of recruitment?

Internships and volunteering are simple and cost-effective ways of identifying and hiring talent. While many organizations offer paid internships but even if they do not, many candidates right out of college take up internships for the experience. The intern’s experience adds to the employer’s brand image and recruiters can identify high potential and the right fit with the role and the organization.

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