Out-of-The-Box Recruiting Ideas for a Tight Labor Market

HR Recruitment Hand Making Tangram Puzzle

A tight labor market calls for unconventional hiring methods. Thanks to widespread job growth and record-low unemployment, dependable, hardworking employees are hard to come by. This means recruiters and hiring managers need to think outside the box. 

We’ve got 15 creative, engaging and off-the-wall ideas to help you tap into new candidate pools and attract applicants for your open roles. 

Why Do You Need Creative Recruiting Ideas?

As pretty much any company can tell you, it’s hard to hire right now. And though the economy appears to be slowing, job growth does not.  

It’s a highly unusual, unprecedented type of market where candidates are quitting, starting and moving between jobs at a rate we haven’t seen before. 

If you want to adapt during such an exceptional market, you can’t rely on the same old sourcing tactics you always have (job boards, we’re looking at you). We’re not saying you should throw your conventional recruiting strategies out the window. We are saying you need to supplement them by trying new ideas and seeing what works. 

Important Tip For Using Out-Of-The-Box Recruiting Ideas

As with any new recruiting strategy, it’s essential to plan your approach, track your progress, measure your KPIs and analyze the results. 

No strategy can work as a one-off. While some of the ideas below may sound fun (and they’re meant to!), they should be a deliberate component of your broader recruiting strategy. The tactics you choose to incorporate should make sense based on your company culture and your target candidate. 

That said, let’s dive in.

15 Creative Recruiting Ideas To Find New Candidates

1. Use alternative media

Everyone posts their positions to job boards and sponsors LinkedIn posts. These platforms are crowded, but they’re far from the only places candidates hear about jobs. 

Have you ever thought about advertising on a YouTube channel? Making a guest appearance on a podcast? Listing your job as a blurb in a niche email newsletter (which has made a big comeback in recent years)? 

Consider the type of content your target candidates consume organically, going beyond platforms that are intended for professional use. The audience you reach may be smaller, but it’ll also be more select, which is key to finding candidates who are a strong match. 

2. Get creative with your ads

Don’t rule out traditional job-seeking platforms like job boards. But why not change up your messaging so your listing stands out among the thousands of others copied and pasted over and over by hiring managers? 

Check out this epic newspaper advertisement seeking laborers to join an expedition to the south pole.

While the historical legitimacy of the ad is muddy, it’s still a great example of a description that grabs the reader’s attention and gets people talking. You can do the same by spicing up your ‘help wanted’ ads with humor, wit, surprise or sentimentality. 

3. Host a party

If you’ve ever watched a reality show like The Bachelor, you know the big, opening-night cocktail party is when the sparks start to fly. While contestants eat, drink, and mingle, the viewers get to sit back and get a captivating glimpse into who these people really are. 

Hosting your own party (with no cameras and far less alcohol) can create a low-pressure environment for potential candidates to learn more about the company while you simultaneously learn more about them. 

4. Recruit in unlikely places

Restaurant and retail workers are experts at dealing with difficult customers. Who’s to say one of them wouldn’t be a great fit at handling important client accounts? Or that stay-at-home mom whose youngest child just entered kindergarten–she might be the perfect candidate to tackle a new challenge as your office administrator.

Just because someone doesn’t come with a direct background in your line of work doesn’t mean they don’t have valuable experience from a different but parallel field. Think about other types of jobs where candidates might have developed transferable skills and consider recruiting from those industries. 

5. Hold a competition

If you need a talented graphic artist, hold a design competition. If you’re looking for a head pastry chef, host a bake-off. Putting out a call for funny short stories could help you find a stellar writer. In addition to offering the winning candidate or candidates a job, be sure to offer a lucrative reward to make entering your contest worthwhile. 

6. Go on an outing

You’re probably familiar with Meetup, the online platform that connects people with similar interests looking to meet new friends. If something like this fits with your company culture, arranging a meetup-style outing to an art gallery or kayaking excursion could draw in prospective candidates while giving them a fun way to interact with their potential future coworkers. 

7. Help employees cash in

Employee referrals aren’t a new strategy; they’re one of the best sources for finding skilled candidates who turn into long-time employees. If this isn’t a high-performing recruitment channel for you, maybe it’s time to step up your referral bonus.

According to employee referral app ERIN, the average referral bonus is $2,000 for startups, $2,500 for healthcare workers, and as much as $5,000 to $10,000 for software engineers. Really make it worth your employees’ time to consider who they know and which of their contacts might make a great hire. 

Related: How to Make Your Employee Referral Program a Powerful Recruitment Tool

8. Host a virtual happy hour 

…Or book club, or any kind of online, social-meets-professional event. Video chat platforms like Zoom make it easy for participants from any geographical location to attend, which is ideal for broadening your candidate pool.

9. Target small town, USA

If you’re located in a major metropolis like New York or Los Angeles, it’s easy to get stuck in the mindset that the best candidates will come to you, physically speaking. But if you’re open to hiring remote workers, turn your focus inward—to the heartland of the country, that is.

Targeting your recruiting efforts to small towns and even rural areas not only helps you reach new candidates but access more affordable labor than in high-cost-of-living areas.

10. Tap into niche networks

There’s a network for every niche, from soccer to scrapbooking. Do you have a presence on the channels where strong candidates are most likely to hang out? Slack channels, online forums and even gaming platforms can be viable sources to find hidden talent.

11. Look to do-gooders

Does your company partner with any volunteer groups? Are there charitable organizations that are adjacent to your field, like Habitat for Humanity if you’re in the construction business? Volunteers may welcome the opportunity to interview for a paid position, especially if it’s in a field they’re already passionate about. 

12. Go old school

As recruiters, we’re glued to our devices. But there’s value in putting down the screens and going back to the basics, with old-school tactics like flyers, billboards, and direct mail pieces. They worked back then, and they might work surprisingly well for you now, too.

13. Piggyback on current events

Use events that everyone’s talking about—the Super Bowl or Black Friday, for example—as themes for your recruiting ads and materials. It’s an excellent way to keep your messaging fresh and show that you’re tuned into the social and cultural things that are going on around you. If you need help coming up with ideas, just take a peek at the ‘Trending’ page of Twitter.

14. Make it a game

Filling out a job application hardly sounds like fun. Add some entertainment to your recruiting by gamifying the process of sourcing candidates with a game or puzzle that’s embedded on your home page or Careers page. Gather names and email addresses for entry and award a prize, like a gift card, to one random winner each week.

15. Use your packaging

If you sell a physical product, you’re already investing time and resources in packing and shipping customer orders. How easy would it be to insert a flier with recruiting messaging into each package? Happy customers are your best brand advocates, and they can also turn into some of the best employees. 

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the president of 4 Corner Resources, the nationally acclaimed staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. His mission back then was the same as it is today: to do business in a personal way, while building an organization with boundless opportunities for ingenuity and advancement. When not managing 4 Corner’s growth or spending time with his family of six, you can find Pete sharing his sales and business expertise though public speaking, writing, and as the host of the Hire Calling podcast.