9 Unexpected Ways To Find New Employees

Ken Waldman

As a business owner, HR manager, or CEO of a startup, you know how difficult it can be to find quality employees. The money you put into your employee search is some of the most important money you will spend, and the time spent searching is among the most valuable time in your calendar. Sure, you can stick to conventional job boards and online ads, but sometimes it’s best to get creative in the search for great talent.

In previous generations, people chose a company when they were fresh out of college (or even high school) and planned to stay with that company until they retired. Retirement packages were still quite common, and stability was the most important factor when selecting a job. Back then, the CHRO (chief human resource officer) was able to place an ad in the local newspaper and be flooded with excellent applicants. But that’s just not how things work anymore.

Today, the best candidates are networking; they are branching out within their social circles to find the absolute best jobs. Many applicants do not check job boards or online forums. And almost nobody reads the classified ads in the newspaper anymore. Traditional methods of marketing open positions within your company just don’t work anymore. You’ll end up spending a lot of money and getting little to show for it.

Beyond not being able to reach candidates with traditional marketing methods, you will not be able to get through to them with the same old boring tactics. The best candidates in any field know that they are valuable. They have come to expect companies to do more to recruit them. They expect more from you and your business. They want to be sure that they are choosing the company with not only the best paycheck (pay is becoming far less of a factor in the job search than it has ever been in the past), but also the best benefits, rewards, flexibility, and career path. They know that they will (likely) not work for you for the duration of their career. So, they need to be sure your job will be a smart stepping stone along their career trajectory.

And because people are likely to stay with a company for only a few years (or less), it’s in your best interest to seek out the employees who are a perfect match for your corporate culture, mission, and structure. The more aligned your company’s goals are with the employees’ goals, the longer they will stay with your business, and the lower your turnover will be. With lower turnover, you’ll be able to save money and have more tenured and skilled employees.

To find these specific individuals, the ones who will really invest themselves in your company and help you grow and succeed, you need to infiltrate their social circles, engage them in conversations, and get them excited about a future within your organization. You need to stand out with interesting and creative tactics to get them looking into your business. You need to showcase the strengths of your organization and show how they line up with the core values and beliefs held by your potential candidates.

Many companies have found creative ways to do this. Some of these methods are a little out of the box, expensive, time-consuming, or even a little crazy. But the point is to be different: to stand out. You want your company to be the one people want to work for. You want to inspire candidates not only to apply for your job, but to want to stay with you and grow alongside your company.

Here are some unorthodox ways to find new employees who will be great matches for your company.

1. Host a YouTube challenge

OgilvyOne created a YouTube campaign searching for the world’s greatest salesperson. Candidates had to create a video in which they sold a brick. That was all. Winners received a three-month paid fellowship with the company. This strategy is great because only extremely interested and highly-qualified candidates will put in the time.

2. Network on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an often-underutilized resource for finding new talent. People who follow your brand on LinkedIn are already very interested in your company. If you post your job opening there, you will receive comprehensive applications, including references (connections), a full resume (the candidate’s profile), and their additional talents and skills (interests, causes, and anything they have posted).

3. Host a brunch

Do your best employees have family or friends that they think would be a good match for the company? Host a networking brunch (or lunch, dinner, cocktail event, etc.) just for these people and their recruits. They’ll love the free meal, and you’ll get to meet with potential employees.

4. Contact your local university

If a college in your area offers a major that’s applicable to your business, give them a call. They might be able to put you in touch with the placement division to give you some great resources. To take this one step further, you could partner with the school to offer internships within your company.

5. Social media

Post your job on your company’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Then, use their targeted ad algorithms to get the job in front of the best possible candidates.

6. Launch an essay contest

Does your company need to hire writers? Get creative by working with Essay Mama to launch an essay-writing contest, then hire the winner. You’ll get to see the work of many qualified candidates side-by-side. This method worked for Julie Petersen, who was able to find a new blogger for her education website.

7. Befriend local real estate agents

Realtors know when people move to your area and are looking for work. If they can tell their clients that your company is hiring, not only is it great for you and your business, but the real estate agent gets to offer an extra service to his or her clients! If you approach agents with this symbiotic relationship, they’ll be thrilled to partner with you.

8. Put it in your products

Take a note from IKEA! The home furnishings giant concealed job applications in their products. It cost the company nothing, since people actually paid to take the applications home, and the company received 4,285 applications, which resulted in 280 new hires.

9. Make people come to you

In 2004, Google created a highly confusing billboard in Silicon Valley. The billboard read {“First 10-digit prime found in consecutive digits of e}.com.” People who figured out that puzzle and visited the correct website had to solve one more equation there. If they succeeded, they were met with a job description and an application. You can mimic the process with a cryptic post on social media that only the right people will understand.

When it comes to finding top talent, you can’t afford to just post your ad on Craigslist and hope for the best. The future of your organization depends on finding the right employees. So why not get creative? Give one of these methods a shot, and see how well you can target your ideal employee!

For more about what top talent is looking for when they decide whether to work for you, don’t miss Coffee Break with Game-Changers’ conversation on Great Workplaces: Trust, Engagement, Simplification, and Millennials.


About Waldman

Kenneth Waldman is a professional content writer with over 5 years of experience. His expertise includes education, marketing and freelancing.