By Air and By Ski: Creative Recruiting

These days myriad creative measures are being employed in an effort to recruit, well, you know…live human beings. While some methods may have once seemed a bit outlandish, the new millennium motto might very well be “It ain’t crazy if it brings in the candidates.” An article by Carrie Johnson in The Washington Post cites efforts by Xpedior, Inc., an e-business solutions firm, to recruit technical employees in the Mid-Atlantic region during the lazy, hazy days of summer. The firm targeted a Delaware beach known for its young, partying crowd (those crazy techies!). Xpedior hoped to net some prospects with a hip, young attitude, ads on a local alternative radio station, fly-by banner advertising at the beach, and free drink coupons. Did it work? You bet. In one weekend, the campaign resulted in 25 solid candidates, at far less than the company typically spends to recruit the same number of people. In his Fortune “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” series, Devin Leonard points to a referral program at a Cambridge, Massachusetts software company, ArsDigital, where the prize for the first employee who refers 10 new hires is a new Ferrari. Leonard notes that recruiting at Nortel Networks includes targeting Jimmy Buffet concertgoers. (As it turns out, engineers tend to be Parrot Heads.) As part of its recruitment strategy, Nortel also offers current employees housecleaning services or spa weekends when they refer new hires. Steven Rothberg, president of CollegeRecruiter.com, an employment and information source for college students and recent graduates, shares what he calls the most creative idea he’s seen recently. One of CollegeRecruiter’s customers leverages its offers to new candidates by including a two-week vacation in the Cayman Islands as a sign-on bonus. The vacation, for which an employee qualifies after a year of service, includes airfare and accommodations. Because lodging is at a company-owned condo, the price tag of the program isn’t exorbitant. In fact, it’s actually less costly than some of the company’s other recruitment efforts. Rothberg says that college recruiting is seeing some of the most creative efforts to hire new talent. Instead of individual meetings with representatives, companies are hosting off-campus parties for the entire graduating class. Offering great food and great drinks, he says, entices students to attend. Rothberg also points to Varsity Group, Inc., a company that has created a niche with aggressive on-campus marketing programs aimed at boosting corporate recognition. With campus reps strategically placed at hundreds of colleges and universities across the country, Varsity Group conducts media blitzes that include promotional events, handing out fliers, making pre-class announcements, and hanging posters at recognized campus locations. While the company’s wide range of marketing activities is intended to create brand awareness, Varsity Group’s programs can also be tailored for recruitment purposes. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> Appealing to the younger crowd on their terms is something corporate America realizes it must do in order to recruit a generation raised on MTV. It’s not uncommon for a company to have a separate college website, says Rothberg. The site may be an offshoot of the company’s site, but it may also be a stand-alone site. Either way, the site looks entirely different and can feature streaming video, snazzy graphics, and other things intended to present a progressive image. Recruiting college students has been taken to new heights in Killington, Vt. Green Mountain College has outgrown its Poultney campus and has plans to relocate its resort management program to a second campus on the mountain. The East’s largest ski resort will work with the college to structure hands-on learning experiences for students. It’s anticipated that this will result in graduating students taking permanent positions at the resort. In the interim, however, Killington hopes that many GMC students will stay year-round and fill seasonal positions. The school year is being structured with this in mind, as well as to use campus lodging for ski season employees. Instead of the typical college calendar, classes at Green Mountain College Center at Killington will run from mid-April to Thanksgiving. While companies have taken to the air to advertise, to the open road with prizes of fine foreign automobiles, and to the slopes in an effort to merge knowledge and employment, there is also the silver screen. Movie theater advertising is yet another way to reach an audience. Pro Motion Slides, Inc. (http://www.cinemaads.com) specializes in cinema advertising. The company website features information about its on-screen promotional services. In addition, there is demographic data that might help with advertising decisions. It can be found under a heading called “Who’s Going to the Movies.” From the homepage, select “Quick Find Site Map” and then “Moviegoer Profile.” Some companies have also found success on the airwaves by advertising open positions. Because the idea is to generate an interest rather than provide extensive details, brief live-read messages known as billboards are often used. These tend to be the least expensive form of radio advertising. When it comes to a radio campaign, it’s advisable to request drive time scheduling in order to reach the optimum number of listeners. While you can reach a lot of people in their cars, you can also reach them at their carts?their supermarket shopping carts. Given the fact that most people grocery shop, it’s probably no wonder that shopping cart advertising is popular in many areas. A variety of companies, from insurance agencies to real estate brokers, place ads on a panel which folds down onto the cart seat. Why not a recruiting firm? While it’s unlikely that all of these strategies will have wheels or wings, when it comes to your organization’s recruitment plan, by letting your imagination soar you may just get some creative ideas off the ground… and some more candidates in the door.

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Paula Santonocito is an e-recruitment strategist and columnist for AIRS, the global leader in Internet recruitment training, tools, news and information. AIRS News:www.airsdirectory.com/news/newsletters/ AIRS Training:www.airsdirectory.com/products/training/ AIRS SearchStation:www.airsdirectory.com/products/tools/searchstation/

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