For Adidas, QR Codes Are Already a Big Thing

John Sullivan asked: Are QR codes the next big thing in recruitment technology?

For adidas, an award winner last year, they’re already a big thing.

Craig Larson heads up U.S. recruiting. He started about a year ago, about the same time, he says, that adidas “identified a problem that needed a solution.”

The problem begins with the fact that adidas sends lots of people to trade shows in places like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York. These people aren’t recruiters, usually — and in fact recruiters sometimes are not welcome at the conventions. They are designers, marketers, buyers, and others there to “push product and get orders,” Larson says. “There’s a lot of deals down there and a lot of passive candidates.” Depending on the event, adidas can send a recruiter or two, but “a lot of times they don’t like us tagging along.”

On top of that, trade-show goers are often with their bosses, and not able to talk jobs.

Using Avature, adidas built a portal to capture some of these passive candidates. If you haven’t heard of Avature — it’s a bit like Jobvite, in that it’s in the “CRM” business — an acronym that may sound familiar but in recruiting many folks consider the “C” to stand for Candidate, not Customer, Relationship Management.

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Anyhow, the project was rolled out at a large footwear/apparel event. To drive people to the site, adidas put up a display (see photo above) with a QR code you could scan, and handed out small (3 x 5) cards with the QR code on them. Show attendees could thus discretely take a photo of the QR code and then type their contact info into the portal. The candidate information was collected and divvied up to adidas recruiters by function, like design, for them to contact people.

Larson’s excited about this as a way to build a relationship, a pipeline of candidates, to start talking to people who might be candidates. And, he says, it showed hiring managers that the adidas recruiting team could get to recruits without a lot of recruiters, and without a recruiting event. Says Larson, figuratively: “Basically we have a recruiter on site with this banner.”

He is still working on a full analysis, putting solid numbers on the project. In the meantime, he says, “it was a vast improvement over last year when we didn’t use technology to support us. In the future this will be a cost savings, time savings, and the ROI will continue to grow.”


8 Comments on “For Adidas, QR Codes Are Already a Big Thing

  1. Todd – interesting article and insight, thank you! One thing that glared to me was the quote: “These people aren’t recruiters, usually — and in fact recruiters sometimes are not welcome at the conventions. They are designers, marketers, buyers, and others there to “push product and get orders,””
    My question for the talent team might be: why isn’t Adidas making them more of the recruitment process or quasi-recruiters. We all know from our history as talent profesionals, some of the best peddlers of our wares (company) are the ranks (especially those in sales and creatives) and it sounds like they might be missing that opportunity or relying on just an aspect.

  2. Derek – great observation, so let me clarify. adidas actually has a very robust employee referral program and we have created a strong recruiting culture. We frequently get candidate leads from staff who travel to events, unfortuntately, at events like this, their day is filled with meetings and recruiting isn’t the purpose or a priority. So, while they do have an eye out for potential talent, the banner and QR code is used as another tool to capture passive talent.

  3. Craig- thanks for the clarification, I assumed but still had to wonder. I often get surprised at how often time isn’t spent on recruitment awareness within the business units (all of us have the issue) especially those in touch with potential recruits. Some of our company’s best “recruiters” have zero HR/Talent affiliation but surprising in their ability to keep an eye for talent at the forefront. The neat thing about the QR codes and the volume of events for a company like yours is the ability to track and look at metrics – great idea and application for you.
    Derek Zumwalt

  4. @ Craig: sounds interesting.

    A couple of points:
    1) IMHO, the vast majority (except for very sr. execs and Staffing) employees who meet others in some capacity should be substantially incentivized (i.e., given generous ERP bonuses) to recruit.
    2) If it’s unfeasible to have your folks do incidental recruiting at tradeshows, all the gathered contact information from business cards, attendee lists, etc. should be directly accessible to Recruiting. If they aren’t suitable for current positions- it’s a great and very cost-effective way of building a candidate pipeline.



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