Recruiting Follies

Picture 2Recruiting often requires creativity, especially when candidates are hard to find. But sometimes creativity results in strange or weird approaches to recruitment. Take for example this recruiting video from a hospital in Canada. The video follows a woman who goes to drop off her resume at the hospital. There, she ends up singing and dancing with staff in its hallways. Patients dance with intravenous drips, a doctor sings, and a child plays with a stethoscope.

If that’s what hospitals are like in Canada I’ll be certain not to get ill if I’m north of the border, but apparently as a recruiting tool, it worked pretty well. The video has been viewed more than 60,000 times since its online release in mid-September. And the hospital received some 2,600 resumes within the first few weeks after its release, which equalled the number it received in the previous six months. It also managed to make 200 hires.

Dancing seems to be a popular theme when it comes to recruiting. Here’s a recruiting video from the Japanese Navy that features a group of dancing sailors. I don’t know how successful that one has been in recruiting sailors, but it makes me wonder if the Japanese Navy could win a skirmish with, say, the Canadian Navy.

Unusual recruiting practices aren’t limited to other countries. The University of Tennessee has some interesting ideas when it comes to recruiting for its football program. The University has been using recruiting hostesses, who often travel far to attend high-school football games and to “influence” players the University is interested in. The approach seems to have worked well since Tennessee has managed to recruit several top players. One recruit summed it up: “You don’t want to go to a college where they ain’t pretty.” However, the NCAA is investigating the practice.

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I’m surprised the University’s diversity officer hasn’t insisted that they have recruiting hosts as well; after all, why make potentially discriminatory assumptions about the candidates. That may well have happened had the Volunteers’ head coach, Lane Kiffin, stayed with the program since he liked to motivate his new recruits by having his coaching staff rip off their shirts and do a chant, in what he described as his version of “topless recruitment.”

It’s too bad that Lane Kiffin won’t be recognized for his recruiting prowess. Since he quit Tennessee for USC after just one year, the city of Knoxville is planning to name a sewage treatment plant for him.

Raghav Singh, director of analytics at Korn Ferry Futurestep, has developed and launched multiple software products and held leadership positions at several major recruiting technology vendors. His career has included work as a consultant on enterprise HR systems and as a recruiting and HRIT leader at several Fortune 500 companies. Opinions expressed here are his own.


16 Comments on “Recruiting Follies

  1. Interesting observation, but it’s hard to take seriously when you’re “mak[ing] potentially discriminatory assumptions” (as you say) about your friends to the north. Had you recognized the uniqueness of the approach, and not added your “comments” pertaining to the Canadian health system or Naval forces you might have achieved something…but alas, you’ve missed the opportunity to potentially spark a very interesting discussion…

  2. Mike, hate to disagree with you but his “discriminatory” statements are in fact, quite true. If you became ill, would you even dream of going to Canada for treatment?

    If you needed a navy to rescue you, would you hope for the Japanese navy? Lets hope not for your sake.

    I see this article as both interesting as well as making a good point and it deserves spirited conversation.

  3. Howard, it’s pretty obvious that you don’t have a clue about what you are talking about. What gives you the right to criticize another countries healthcare system? Or for that matter, Navy? Do you know anything about Canada’s Healthcare system, comittment to NATO, or the extremely effective work being done in the Persian gulf? Didn’t think so.
    As for Raghav, plase keep your writings focused on recruiting…hopefully you can sharpen those marginal skills.

  4. Being a Canadian, I’m not too sure how to respond to you Howard…especially when you consider that this is a forum for HR professionals from around the world…

    However; to keep a focus on the conversation at hand, “off-the-wall” recruitment strategies are gaining traction. In a world of continual organizational penetration into social forums, its becoming increasingly difficult to differential oneself. Staying top of mind with an unorthodox approach can help to build a connection with someone who might otherwise be uninterested.

    Now…to what extent you want to take is questionable. Too far and you’ll lose your audience…not far enough and no one will notice you. So how far should it be?

  5. To Jeff:

    I know a great deal about Canada’s healthcare system.


    My son is in the navy for 13 years. I make it an obsessive point to know about any country with even the most rudimentary navy.

    Raghav, on behalf of all individuals who are well mannered, can communicate without being insulting and actually spell correctly I apologize for Jeff Hurrell’s difficult tone. We see this less and less as the economy weeds individuals who need to insult you to disagree. Once again, I apologize for Jeff’s unfortunate comment.

  6. Raghav –
    You are the only contributor I respond to every time – keep up the good work. Love the levity. Mike, Jeff, don’t take Raghav (or us) so seriously. And don’t ask for my (free) economic newsletter (many of you get), because all you can do but laugh at most of what is going on in DC, which I do with impunity. I continue to hope Jesus grades on a curve (& has a sense of humor).

  7. “Being a Canadian, I’m not too sure how to respond to you Howard…especially when you consider that this is a forum for HR professionals from around the world…”

    Not sure of what above mentioned statement means. However, you should comment and/or say anything that you believe to be true because we need honest conversation and thoughtful dialogue.

    I was not insulting Canada’s healthcare system. I was merely pointing out that Americans, as a rule, do not go to Canada for healthcare due to perceived shortcomings in our healthcare system.

    Take note Jeff! See how people can disagree nicely and professionally? I suggest that you give it a try someday. You have learned something new today Jeff. Aren’t you glad we met?

  8. Hi Howard, I too appreciate an open, thoughtful discussion. To clarify, I was commenting on your statement: “would you even dream of going to Canada for treatment?”

    I’m sure you can appreciate the initial shock from reading it. I understand your perception, and I’m a big believer that everyone is entitled to their thoughts, beliefs and opinions. All that to say, two people from two countries can openly discuss a passionate topic and come to a consensus that we can actually agree to disagree.

    Perhaps one day Jeff will learn…

  9. Yes Howard, you identifying my spelling mistake clearly shows your dedication to professional communication.

    Mike LOL.

  10. IMHO, working to get people to come to you (however clever and well-orchestrated) is still passive recruiting. Going after anyone you actually expect to hire is active recruiting. While the competition is sprucing up its website and bringing in branding consultants and learning all about using Twitter and going to various highly-touted and overpriced conventions and webinars where they hear all about “the *War for Talent'” you and your colleagues go find the people your company/client needs, let them know about the opportunity and work to close them.

    Any questions?

    Keith “Hey You Folks: Stop Sniping At Each Other Over Irrelevant Points” Halperin

    *I think the “War for Talent” is like the “War on Drugs” or the “War on Terror”: you don’t know how to define “winning” and it never ends.

  11. I just read this article and wish to register the offense I have taken by the proximity in your sentence of Knoxville to sewage treatment.

    If you knew anything at all you would know that Knoxville produces far more than sewage (though it does produce some exceptionally clean and refined sewage—on occasion)

    This placeist statement removes all validity from every word in your article including “and” and “the” as well as the putative existance of a place called “Canada”

  12. Bill –
    Gosh, you spoiled what I thought was a really good joke,
    and I am a Pete Carroll fan. You need to rename your plant the Knoxville Recycling and Processing plant (KRAP)

  13. Raghav,
    Your article was so “tongue-in-cheek” that it was a challenge to really LOL. Your comments about out-of-the-box recruiting techniques were appreciated. Keep up the writing, it is engaging. I look forward to reading more of them. /Mike

  14. Why can’t you all just get over your infantile pettiness and admit that Raghav sees deeper than the deepest ocean and taller than the tallest tree, on the tallest mountain top?

    You can’t handle the truth, so yoos guys try to drag him down to your level of unsightly insight. He’s one of the few recruiters who notices that some places actually have a Diversity Officer on the payroll.

    So, be grateful that he shares a few tidbits for you to munch on as you flash your little piranha teeth to get attention.

    Can’t we all just get along?

  15. I especially liked the observation, “So, be grateful that he shares a few tidbits for you to munch on as you flash your little piranha teeth to get attention.” Hemingway would be proud.

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