Most businesses have a hiring problem right now. And as chamber pros, we’re scrambling to give them good directions. Here’s a big list of creative employee recruitment strategies that businesses can use. Feel free to repurpose or borrow from this article and share ways they can recruit on your chamber blog or your chamber newsletter.

Creative Employee Recruitment Strategies: The Big List of Ideas

Employee Recruiting No-No’s

Before we get into the big list of creative employee recruitment strategies, let’s cover some basics on what not to do. A strong recruiting practice will be overshadowed — and left ineffective — because of the following:

Writing a Weak Ad

It’s time to get creative with your hiring ad. Your boilerplate copy that you wrote in 1980 or that you took from someone on LinkedIn is no longer effective. You have to get creative in your employee recruitment strategies and the visible part of that starts with the ad.

More than ever, potential employees want to know and see:

  • What’s in it for them. What can they expect and what are the working conditions? Explain the benefits of the job (in addition to pay and healthcare). What extras will they receive? Who are they going to work with/what’s the team dynamic?
  • Plain language. A job posting is not the time to sound like a robot giving a scientific presentation. Paint a simple picture of what you’re looking for and what you’re offering.
  • Humor. Unless your business is an incredibly serious one (funeral parlor or investment bank come to mind), try a little humor in your ad to get and hold attention.
  • Basics up front. Some people don’t want to add salary or specific information like that to their job postings. You are wasting time if you don’t. Salary is important to most job seekers. If you don’t post a range, you will have some people ignore it all together and move onto the next ad (of which there are many) or ask you salary questions, tying up your time. Once they know the range, they may no longer be interested. You can’t get that time back. If they saw the range to begin with, they would’ve self-disqualified.
  • Scannable content. People don’t want to read a text heavy description. Bullet point what you want them to know (unless you’re looking for a writer or an editor).
Clipping of help wanted ads from the Boston Globe in 1895

Having No (or a Negative) Company Culture

Competition is fierce right now. The businesses that will have the easiest time hiring are those that have become known for creating a positive company culture as much as the product or service they are selling. It’s not too late to start … well, culturing your culture. Once you know what your culture and company values are, share them with employees and prospects.

Social media is a great place to start. Let your personality shine through your posts. Drop the formality. Comment. Ask questions. Share what you’re proud of and invite others to do the same. People want to be part of something larger than themselves. Show them what (and who) you are.

Creating a Forgettable Experience

Most interviews are boring formalities. One blends into another. That won’t help you hire.

While we realize is that sometimes half the battle is getting people to show up for the interview. Once they do, make the experience memorable. Show them why you love your business and what you are most proud of. Passion is contagious.

For instance, if you’re a baker, let them taste one of your items. If you’re interviewing them for a barista position, make them a cup of coffee before you sit down and talk. Woo them while you interview them. When they leave your interview, you want them to talk about it.

A creative employee recruiting strategy remembers that the employees create the customer experience.

And guess what?

That will help you recruit too.

Ignoring Bad Reviews

While you can’t remove bad employment reviews on sites like Glass Door, you still want to be aware of them. Comment where appropriate (and possible) without blame. If something has changed since that review, post that information (for example, being under new management).

For a particularly troublesome series of employment reviews, you may want to address it before the potential employee does. You may want to say something like, “In the past we struggled with _____ but after listening to our employees we realized this was important to them and so we did _____.” Transparency can go a long way to building trust.

image of thumbs down to illustrate bad reputation as hurting employee recruiting

Now that we have the basic challenges to recruiting covered, let’s get into the giant list of ways to recruit.

30 Creative Ways to Find Your Next Employee

  1. Form partnerships. Work with other businesses that have good employee recruitment strategies and that also serve your ideal hire without being a competitor. For instance, a real estate agent may work with people who are moving into town. Those people may be looking for work. Letting the agent know you’re hiring can help them persuade someone to move to your town and find you a new employee.
  2. Contact the high school(s), local colleges, tech schools. Let them know about your open positions. Make sure you talk to a variety of people there such as teachers related to your industry, the vocational-tech person, the volunteer coordinator, and others. Schools can be siloed. Leaving your hiring info in one department may not be enough to drive action.
  3. Add a message to your car. If you do a lot of driving, this is a good way to let people know you’re hiring. A positive message about growth can make things look less desperate.
  4. Add your hiring message to your signature. You probably send a lot of emails. Use this space.
  5. Tell everyone. From friends to family to Facebook acquaintances, tell everyone you’re hiring and what you’re looking for.
  6. Recruit or become appealing to teachers. Teachers usually have a few weeks off during the summer. Traditionally, those who don’t take summers off work in areas closely related to teaching like tutoring or camps. Think about how you might benefit by hiring a teacher and what your business could offer them. Then get the word out.
  7. Run an ad on social media. Use the social segmenting tools to get your ad in front of your ideal audience. For instance, if you run a comic book store, you could target people of a certain age who are interested in comics then design your ad around an employee discount and being the first to see new comics. Playing on their interests/hobbies can entice someone who isn’t looking for work to join your team. Again, focus on what’s in it for them.
  8. Contact associations in your industry. Contact associations in your industry and let them know you’re hiring. Don’t forget to ask them if they have a student chapter you can contact as well. They may also have their own recruitment strategies and ideas to share with you.
  9. Contact churches and nonprofits. Churches and nonprofits have played a big role in helping people who are financially struggling. They may know of individuals who are looking for work or need a new start. Speaking of…
  10. Reach out to marginalized populations. One of the hardest groups to employ is former felons. There aren’t a lot of opportunities out there for them. Most people aren’t willing to give them a chance. If you’re interested in exploring this option, check this out. It’s also difficult to get a job when you’re homeless. Nonprofits and shelters may help you connect with this group.
  11. Hire a veteran. From nonprofits specializing in vet hires to social clubs for veterans, there are a lot of organizations you can contact to get in front of veterans looking for a new career or even a part-time job.
  12. Highlight your current employees. While this is not a direct recruiting tactic, when you show how much someone means to you, others will want to be a part of your company culture. You can even place a hiring call to action at the bottom or your spotlight.
  13. Make a cool recruiting video or Vine. Don’t forget tik tok, Snapchat and Instagram as great places to share your videos. Make them short, punchy, and fun to recruit younger people.
  14. Reach out to past employees. Do you have a great one who got away? Reach out again. You never know what they’re considering. The grass is not always greener. Even if they are deliriously happy in their new role, they may know someone looking for a change. Don’t forget to reach out to people who left to get married or have children. People’s home lives don’t remain the same forever. They just might be thinking about returning to the workforce. Contacting them makes for an easy transition and they may have been nervous to reach out.
  15. Showcase your flexibility. How are you flexible? Can people work from home, bring their dog to work, job share/split work and work hours, or receive a child care allowance? Whatever you’re doing to be flexible should be showcased. Do a video interview on it and contact your local paper to show how employers are being more flexible to meet the demands of employees. That could make a good human interest story.
  16. Volunteer. Get out and help the community in your branded company apparel. People remember good things like that.
  17. Create a social media contest out of it. Host a “Help Us Find Our Next Rockstar” contest and encourage people to nominate themselves or others. Give a prize to the person who serves as the employee recruiter. This generates buzz and the excitement of competition, something that is lacking on the employee’s side in today’s hiring market.
  18. Post pics of employees’ first days and other celebrations. Show off your culture and the treatment people receive when they work for you. Then post your open positions.
  19. Post on niche job boards. The large hiring sites aren’t the only option. Post on niche industry job boards or ask the chamber about their listings.
  20. Reach out to your alumni organization.
  21. Use freelancers.
  22. Add your open positions to your newsletter.
  23. Offer scholarships and bonuses after so many hours of work.
  24. Host a bring a friend to work day. Offer referral bonuses for successful hires from that day.
  25. Add a careers page to your website or highlight an open position on your homepage.
  26. Start an employee-run podcast. This shows you encourage employees to take ownership.
  27. Add a chatbot to your website so you can field questions and start conversations whenever a candidate is interested.
  28. Create “People who love this, love this” content. Think of these as “also buys” for employees. What do people love about your business? Create content that reflects that. For instance, people who love to read, enjoy working in our ___ department because they _____. Or phrased a different way, “If you find immense satisfaction from making people smile, you’ll love working here because we average 600 smiles a day.”
  29. Apply for Best Places to Work contests. Many employers don’t realize these designations are generally contests they apply for. Look into what’s available in your area. Making the list can mean a lot of applicants.
  30. Play “dirty.” We saved this one for last because it’s one that could backfire if you don’t have an amazing work environment and incredible culture. But it is a whole lot easier to hire from a pool of people already employed than it is to cast a wide net to everyone. Recruiting from the competition or a role that is similar to what you’re hiring for is a sound strategy. You can actively recruit the competition, which can be risky as you don’t know who loves their job and who doesn’t. Or you can carry recruitment cards with you. Similar to business cards with your contact info, they also have room for you to compliment a person and suggest they talk to you about opportunities. For instance, you may receive great care at a restaurant and invite that server via a card you leave on the table to apply for a customer service role with your company. However, know you won’t be making any friends by stealing employees from other businesses.

By: Christina Metcalf