May 02, 2016

4 Out-Of-Box Recruiting Tactics You'll Want To Know About

Attracting and recruiting top talent is getting harder and harder every day. Top candidates are either not actively looking or are being contacted by other companies too, making it extremely challenging to get a candidate’s attention and interest to apply for your company. 

What are some of the creative, unique tactics companies have used to help them better connect, engage, and recruit top talent? Here are 5 effective, out-of-the-box recruiting strategies and ideas to fire up your inspiration today: 

1. Billboards

While this isn't necessarily a new marketing tactic, if done right, it can be an effective one. A traffic jam may be one of San Franciscans’ biggest annoyances, but for some companies it is the perfect opportunity to get a candidate’s attention. It's especially useful in large commuting metros that are dense with competing local talent competitors. Dice, for example, opted to go with billboard advertising to both recruit employees and promote their tech recruiting website and tools. 

To target potential recruiting professionals and companies, Dice’s campaign features three different engineers posing as models wearing nothing but their boxers. Next them reads “Dice has the hottest tech talent” or “Find the hottest tech talent” with a link to their website. 

For tech talent who may be looking to make a career move, Dice also rolled out these clever “code talking” billboards, encouraging tech and engineering professionals to go to Dice and search for their next opportunity.

Similarly, a few years ago, Electronic Arts paid for a billboard that displayed its hiring message in the form of ASCII code. For tech onlookers, if they solved the line of code, they would get the message "Now Hiring." 

2. Google

For many developers, cover letters are a time-consuming, outdated application process that doesn’t really give them the opportunity to demonstrate their technical ability. They would rather submit their past work, side projects, or open source contributions to showcase their skills and experience. 

It’s also been said that companies like Google prefer to look at a candidate’s coding to gauge their technical ability, rather than screening through traditional processes like cover letters and resumes. 

Perhaps this was why the company started this secret interview process to screen and recruit new developers. Potential candidates are invited to take a coding challenge on page called “” when they search for certain technical terms on Google. If they accept the challenge, they supposedly have 48 hours to solve it. 

According to now-Google employee, software engineer Max Rosett, he completed five more challenges before he was given the option to submit his contact information. A few days later, a Google recruiter reached out to Max for a copy of his resume and the rest is history. 

Google’s challenge is a clever and cost-effective recruiting tactic to hire tech talent. Not only did it save recruiters an enormous amount of time to phone screen candidates, but developers also got an interesting, hands-on programming test to highlight their technical talent. 

You don't have to be a company as big or well- known as Google to take advantage of tactics like this. Another recent example of a company hiding recruitment messaging in their own site is this gem that appeared when looking in the source code ) of any page of The LAD Bible's website. Clever, right? Though you can no longer find it on their site, Lad Bible’s creativity surely should be lauded. Flickr also got some press doing this a couple of years ago.  

 screenshot of source code of  screenshot of source code of


3. Uber “Code on the Road” App

Like Google, Uber is trying to recruit engineers by sending passengers a “Code on the Roadchallenge within their rider app. Passengers were given the option to complete three coding challenges with a one-minute time limit for each exercise. Scores are given based on one’s answers, and if candidates did well, they had the opportunity to connect with a recruiter via the app and apply with Uber. 

It’s unclear how Uber identifies which riders are tech and engineering professionals, since the company claims it does not use passenger information for the app and is only targeting cities where there is a large tech worker population, such as Seattle and Austin. But hiding a coding challenge in one’s product is definitely a clever and unique way of getting the candidate’s attention and to apply, particularly those who might not have considered working for Uber before or any prospects that Uber recruiters might have missed.

4. GoDaddy “Mirror” Employee Referral Program Launch

Employee referrals are one of the most effective ways to recruit talent. Research has shown that a referred candidate is often faster and cheaper to hire and will onboard more quickly, while staying with the company longer compared to a non-referred hire. But companies, big or small, often face the challenge of inconsistent understanding and promotion of their employee referral program. 

That’s one of the reasons why GoDaddy launched a marketing campaign to help promote and encourage employees to participate in their updated employee referral program. Instead of making employees sit through hours of "sleep-friendly" HR training sessions though, every employee received a hand-held mirror on their desk with a note that said, “This is what a GoDaddy recruiter looks like.” 

 Pictured: Andrew Carges, VP of Talent Acquistion at godaddy
Pictured: Andrew Carges, VP of Talent Acquistion at GoDaddy

Why mirrors? It shows employees that, regardless of their roles, employees at GoDaddy are all recruiters and brand advocates for the company. They are all responsible for attracting and recruiting the best people to join the company. 

On the back of the mirror are simple, clear instructions that explain how to sign up for the new employee referral tool and where they can go to learn more about how the program works and how to make a quality referral. 

GoDaddy’s creative campaign certainly made promotion of their employee referral program easier and more fun. More importantly, this out-of-the-box recruitment improved employee awareness, understanding, and participation. Have you seen any other cool out of the box recruiting strategies or ideas that have gone viral and worked well? Please share those unique recruiting ideas below! 


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