How Do You Attract the Best Talent? Five Companies Exemplify Recruiting Innovation

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How Do You Attract the Best Talent? Five Companies Exemplify Recruiting Innovation

“We have seen the emergence of the Human Age, where talent is the new differentiator,” writes Jonas Prising, CEO of ManpowerGroup. Yet organizations around the world struggle to find the talent they need. This is especially problematic, because 75 million Baby Boomers will retire within the next 10 to 15 years. Between now and then, there will be a lot of jobs to fill, and if finding great talent is difficult now, organizations are going to have to up their recruiting game, or suffer the consequences of being understaffed.

Manpower Group surveyed more than 41,700 hiring managers in 42 countries in order to get a clear view of how many employers are having difficulty filling positions. They also assessed which jobs are the most difficult to fill and why. We’re going to look at the findings in their corresponding report, 10th Annual Talent Shortage Survey, and then take talk about five companies who are facing the talent shortage in inspiring and innovative ways.

The Facts About the Talent Shortage

How challenging is it to fill jobs?

In 2015, 38% of employers were having difficulty filling jobs, which is the highest number since 2007. That number is a global average, with 32% of employers reporting difficulty in the United States.


Japan especially suffers a talent shortage, with 83% reporting difficulty. Ireland (11%) and the United Kingdom (14%) experience the least difficulty filling jobs.


Why is it difficult to fill jobs?

35% of employers surveyed in the 2015 Talent Shortage Survey reported that the top reason they have difficulty filling jobs is a lack of available applicants. 34% of respondents said they can’t fill positions because their talent pool has a lack of technical skills (hard skills). The other three of the top five reasons it’s difficult to fill positions is due to lack of experience (22%), lack of workplace competencies, or soft skills (17%), and encountering candidates looking for more compensation than is offered.


What jobs are the most difficult to fill?


For four years straight, skilled trade jobs are the most difficult to fill, especially chefs, bakers, butchers, mechanics, and electricians. Sales representatives, engineers, technicians and drivers make up the remaining of the top five most difficult jobs to fill. Now we can see why a lack of technical skills contributes heavily to the lack of candidates—those skills are needed in four of the top five most difficult jobs to fill.

However, there may be light at the end of the tunnel. In October of 2015, Bloomberg reported a decline of college degrees and falling enrollment for the third year in a row. This may indicate resurgence in trade-school enrollment, creating a new generation of workers who have the hard skills companies need globally.

But until those numbers are official, what are employers doing about this talent gap? Unfortunately, not enough.

Employers are not doing enough to address talent shortages.

Despite their admitted challenges in filling positions, more than one in five employers are not pursuing any strategies to address their talent shortages. In fact, only one in ten is adopting recruitment strategies to access untapped talent pools.


When faced with talent shortages, hiring managers have the opportunity to be creative. With a little out-of-the-box thinking, they may be able to attract the candidates they want. Here are five excellent examples of companies using innovative hiring practices.

How Do You Attract the Best Talent? Five Companies Exemplify Recruiting Innovation

1. Go Big


FormaShape, a Canadian manufacturing company, placed a single billboard outside their plant that read, “Trespassers Will Be Hired!” They received 100’s of applications and great publicity.

2. Host an Open House


I Love Rewards Inc. (now Achievers), a global employee rewards and social recognition company based in San Francisco, decided to turn to self-selection as a strategy and hosted an open house. Rather than going through 1200 resumes, I Love Rewards invited all applicants to an open house. Candidates were narrowed down automatically, as those who were less serious about the job chose not to attend the event.

At the open house there were two distinct areas on two floors of the building. One was for mingling with current employees, and the other was set up as speed dating for quick five-minute interviews. This method helped see a potential candidate’s level of interest, communication skills and working knowledge.

3. Hit the Pavement


Quicken Loans, a home loans expert based in Detroit, MI, turned to their current employees to attract talent. They sent out current employees to local retail stores and restaurants to interact with workers and offer interviews to those who stood out. This was a big help in looking for candidates in unexpected places! Current employees often have the best understanding of the soft and hard skills needed to succeed at their company. This is also a great tactic when searching for a cultural fit.

4. Design an Activity


H-E-B Central Market, one of the largest independent food retailers in the nation, started in Austin, TX. Their innovative recruiting approach involved inviting candidates to a three-hour activity (which in itself is a screening activity). First, applicants sampled store products. This showed H-E-B the candidate’s willingness to try new things, and their general love of food, both representing the values of H-E-B.

Next, applicants created their own application with art supplies, a testament to their creative thinking, and a look at what they feel is important for their potential employers to know about them. The last activity involved role-playing activities to create product displays in teams. This final activity shows who is creative, who is a leader, who works well in teams, and who is or is not assertive. After this process, candidates are invited in for one-on-one interviews.

5. Send Surprises


Red 5 Studios, an online games developer headquartered in Cork, Ireland and Irvine, CA, did a bit of handpicking to find their talent. They searched for passive candidates (candidates not currently looking for a job) via social media research. They picked the top 100 they were interested in and reached out to them in a very creative way. Each candidate was sent a personalized iPod, with a loaded audio message from the CEO inviting them to consider working for the company. More than 90 candidates responded to the pitch.

Feeling inspired yet? As you can see, there are many ways to get the talent you need. Be willing to experiment. If you are in a leadership role, let hiring managers know they can be creative when recruiting and support their efforts. If you’re having difficulty attracting talent now, start experimenting as soon as possible. That way you can get the ideas worked out before the real talent shortage sets in, after Baby Boomers bid their last farewell.

Have you ever recruited or been recruited in a unique way? I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a comment below, find me on Twitter, or send me an email.

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