Recruiting the Hunger Games Way

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 1.50.57 PMMay the odds be ever in your favor.

Ten million skilled labor jobs went unfilled in the U.S. last year alone. 10,000 Baby Boomers retire each day. Do the math and something needs to happen to put the odds in your favor if you are a recruiter. Here are a few to consider.

Be Memorable

Advantages came to the contestants in The Hunger Games who were the most memorable out of the 24 who were competing. You’re probably not Google, Facebook, or Apple. You don’t have instant name recognition that helps to sell your brand. But you do have a story to tell. Psychologists have been studying the impact of sharing stories and how they directly impact a person’s attitudes, values, hopes, and fears. But somehow, in the recruiting world, we haven’t grasped that power yet.

So much of recruiting today is creating a job description with an unending list of bullet points and communicating what they company demands of the candidate. Very little emphasis is placed on telling the candidate about the company — what it does, why it does it, what impact it makes, and the causes that company supports. Once a company can have interested parties visualize themselves working there, the battle has been won.

In addition, an emphasis on that candidate’s experience is mandatory. It’s a no-win situation to tell a remarkable story and have a candidate envision themselves working there … and then totally disregard the candidate through the rest of the recruitment process. Common human courtesies will help to make your company memorable.

Alliances Get You Further

As with any good movie, you have the good guys and the bad guys. The Hunger Games was no different. As the battles began, individuals quickly aligned with each other to try to defeat the others.

In this battle for talent, new, fresh, innovative thinking is required — a business alliance. For some, it might mean aligning with a firm that can focuses on sourcing and driving candidates to your recruitment team. For others, it might be a marketing ally that help you to tell your story — online, print, video, social, etc. Some will choose an ally that is focused on recruitment optimization — taking your current strategies, processes, technology, and team and fine-tuning it to make it run more effectively and efficiently. Or you might align yourself with a totally outsourced recruitment partner that delivers on your behalf.

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I have been warning recruitment leaders for the past few years that a major transition was about to take place in the way that recruiting is executed. This is mostly because of the generational shift of our candidate base. Two main reasons why this change will take place:

  1. It is the first generation to grow up with the Internet accessible to them every day of its lives. It has reshaped communication skills. It has reshaped problem solving. It has reshaped how businesses operate. It has reshaped just about every aspect of our lives. But somehow we think we can still recruit with the same tired strategies and processes that we used 5-10-15+ years ago.
  2. This is also the generation where everyone got a trophy and we quit keeping score. Candidates have a deep need for communication and reassurance … and having an ATS with knockout questions that eliminate the vast majority of applicants within 30 seconds of their application being submitted doesn’t really feel good to these candidates.

The role of recruiter is changing to more of an influencer … and that means alliances must be in place: Networking alliances. Campus alliances. Referral alliances. Optimization alliances.

Your Mentor Changes Everything

In the movie, each Tribute had a mentor assigned to them. One of the most appealing things that a company can do to draw in new talent is assign that new person to a mentor. Someone to show them the ropes, answer their questions, and give the newly hired person a very personal sense of dedication and appreciation. It will take some screening and training on your part to find those who will truly embrace the role of mentor, but this commitment is well-worth the extra effort when competing for a candidate with a competitor.

You may not be the biggest company. You may not have the most resources. You can, however, put the odds in your favor by developing and executing on a plan based around these ideas.

Doug Douglas is the president of DX2 Consulting in Austin, Texas. He partners with companies to optimize their recruitment efforts with the end result being reduced turnover, reduced recruitment costs, and improved efficiency.


6 Comments on “Recruiting the Hunger Games Way

  1. Great article! I believe the change in recruitment and ALL HR processes has already occurred. We are in an era of contemporary WORKPLACE practices, and any department including HR and recruitment, that does not fully embrace this contemporary era, will become burdensome to organizations— and eventually rendered totally irrelevant.

    “But somehow we think we can still recruit with the same tired strategies and processes that we used 5-10-15+ years ago.” I found that quote quite compelling because the its truth is most profound!!

    Recruiters need to teach hiring managers applicable 21st century recruitment procedures and processes. However, unless those recruiters are themselves well versed in the contemporary/scientific form of recruitment needed for today’s job market, they will continue to hire the most mediocre and limited candidates, provide ineffective guidance to hiring managers, and continue to lose the best and brightest candidates.

    I train recruiters, and have also been contacted and interviewed by recruiters etc. As a 21st ER/HR professional, I have sometimes been astounded by the archaic and unscientific interviews or processes I have experienced, witnessed or discussed with my colleagues. Recruitment must be scientific, interactive and directed.

    Many folks sometimes make a decision not to continue with a recruitment process, for an open position with an organization, because of their astounding interactions with ill-trained recruiters. What does it say of an organization if the core staff, recruiters, use unscientific and outdated and limited methods inquiry for something as fundamental as hiring?

    The job market is flooded with experienced folks from all generations, with varying levels of experience who could all change the competitiveness and profit levels of an organization, if hired and well managed.
    Some organizations embrace the “organization and market availability” based recruitment model, and have done very well with hiring from all available pools of candidates, while others, sadly, wallow in self imposed mediocrity. The situation with self imposed mediocrity can be changed. Mediocrity only persists without information, learning and consistent implementation.

    With articles like this, and forward thinking professionals who understand the changing process of recruitment, I remain encouraged. I hope HR departments continue to train recruiters on contemporary recruitment strategies and processes, organization’s micro and macro goals, maneuvering a fertile job market—- and most importantly how to source, interview and retain the best and brightest employees.

  2. Thanks S J. I think for a lot of recruiters and leadership, it’s a matter of perspective. They are so close to and so emotionally involved in what they doing that they cannot come close to evaluating effectiveness objectively. This is what my firm does, we optimize recruitment strategies, processes, technologies, social media efforts, spending, metrics, and execution to get the maximum results possible. Much like you, I do training of recruiters and hiring managers to try to get them to be strategic in what they are doing…not always easy. Hang in there!

  3. Thanks, Doug-Squared.

    SJ: I’m afraid I disagree with you. Unless a company is looking for the “Fab 5%” of candidates (or some other much in-demand skills), the vast majority of companies can get very qualified people without really doing anything different- we still live in a “buyers market” for labor, and there are loads of really good people willing to go through all kinds of crap for a job. On the other hand, if a company is trying to “fight above its weight class” i.e., get people a LITTLE better than what it can reasonably expect, then working to improve things like this is a good step: if all else is equal, the company that treats the candidates the best should win.

    Happy Holidays, ‘Cruitaz!

  4. Keith,

    A “qualified” candidate is not necessarily the best, brightest and most suited for the position.

    In addition, contrary to the prevailing belief that the saturated job market has created “good people willing to go through all kinds of crap for a job” as you aver, DOL statistics and other reliable linear data shows increased employee disengagement, explosion of organizational conflict, and more unhealthy culturally challenged workplaces.

    Some have interpreted those studies to indicate that organizations are not effectively hiring the best individuals for their companies, and remain burdened with the effects of a bloated job market. There are some AWESOME recruiters who have embraced the global change in recruitment strategies and processes, but there are still others who ignore the fact that recruitment has changed, and continues to evolve very rapidly.

    I do understand your views, and see your perspective. However, I agree more with Doug’s analysis of the matter. 🙂


  5. Thanks, SJ. I agree with the information you’ve given, just not how you interpret it.

    As you say, I think many workers are disengaged, organizations fight, and there are quite a few other unhealthy practices going in in workplaces. However, I don’t believe there is/will be a massive employee churn, because for the vast majority of dissatisfied workers: THERE AREN’T EQUAL OR BETTER JOBS TO GO TO.

    As far as recruiters not embracing new recruiting strategies: I think many of us do that to preserve our jobs, as many of these strategies would obsolesce us right out of the job market, and many others remain silent so as not to obsolesced right out of their companies, which do not solicit our input or opinions. Instead of putting the blame on recruiters, I suggest you put it where (IMHO) it really belongs: on the greed, arrogance, fear, and ignorance/incompetence (GAZFI) of those at the top of the company who dictate how hiring is done (or not done, as is often the case).

    Happy Holidays,


  6. Doug – I’m going to keep this short and sweet: Great article, and spot on observations and connections. These are people we’re recruiting, people who behave like people, who need to be spoken to and connected with as people do. Thank you for writing and sharing this.


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