Breaking the Mold

Jun 1, 2001
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HR Magazine, June 2001 8 Tips to a Winning Recruitment Campaign

  1. Avoid stale advertising and know when to shift the message. Officer John Ritter, recruiter at the Seattle Police Department, knew it was time for a change. In the past, even costly television ads, which cost $50,000 a run, didnt generate much interest from potential applicants, he says.

  2. Rather than holding on to a message that worked in the past, be willing to try something new, suggests Jim Darroch, associate creative director at ASRI in Gray, Maine.

  3. Understand what your audience wants to hear. Because when it comes down to it, the creative [concept] is for one personyour prospective candidate, says Mary K. Fox, western region creative director for JWT Specialized Communications in Seattle.

    In the direct mail category, Microsoft Corp. won a Creative Excellence Award (CEA) for its Youre not an easy person to find campaign. Using the word you in the headline is always a winning approach, says Lynne Meena, of New York-based advertising firm Lynne Meena & Co., who directed this years CEA judging. The judges reaction to this was, If I saw this, I would think they were really trying to find me. It appeals to the ego in all of us that someone is actually trying to find us.

    The piece complimented the reader, adds JWTs Mary Olson, who worked on the Microsoft project, as well as explained that Microsoft had some positions to fill."

  4. Build on existing material. A good example is how tag lines created for recruitment adsfor example, the Seattle Police Departmentare used on T-shirts, coffee mugs or other goods that may be used as giveaways at job fairs or company-sponsored events or given to the internal employee population. The Staples moving display advertising was originally a message for printed material.

  5. Consider using humor. In its black and white newspaper display ads, PETsMART not only plays up the warm-and-fuzzy feeling people have for animals, the lead lines are humorous. Carol Cox, PETsMARTs senior vice president of HR, says, Ads not only need to be eye catching but have a sense of humor. We all have lots of stress in our lives, so putting a smile on faces is really important.

    Even the Seattle Police Departmenta type of employer that is often viewed as being very seriousgot city officials to go with a lighthearted, funny approach to recruitment.

  6. Be a partner with your agency. Become a part of the creative development process, not just the client that comes in and critiques in the end, says Fox. All the CEA winners interviewed mentioned this important component. Every client wants good creative [concepts], explains Darroch, but we dont have a magic wand.

    The end result for Stratus was not accident, but a well-thought-out product. They [Stratus] were able to provide good information; they know their market and care about the creative process.

  7. Differentiate your employer. I think people who only do direct recruitment are missing an important opportunity for branding, says Karen Hansen, staffing director at Mentor Graphics, which was last years Dansker winner and this years winner in the black-and-white newspaper category. Work to come up with a unique selling point and establish yourself in the marketplace, advises Nick Vacca, vice president and creative director for Bernard Hodes Group.

  8. Push the employment advantage. Once candidates were in the door, applying for dot-com positions, Staples could sell them on its stability and security. Stratus Technologies tells college graduates that individuality is respected and has testimonials stating this from current employees.

    Or perhaps your organization truly believes in work/life balance. For example, American Express and Bernard Hodes Group won an award for their Working Mother recruitment ad campaign. A photo of a toddler was used with lead copy saying, We understand that there may be another boss in your life.

  9. Try new venues. Stapless approach is testimony to the value of being flexible and open to new ways to reach candidates. Carl Lopes, vice president of employment at Staples, has been able to eliminate print advertising from his budget. Lopes does so by using other types of avenues, such as in-house sourcing, special events and mass mailings.

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