Successful Strategies That Work: Best Practices in Recruiting Top Talent
Creative Hiring Practices Deliver Creative Candidates
Unfortunately, in today’s world of homogeneous job descriptions, where many roles are combined, employment ads often cast too wide a net. The result can be many resumes from applicants who are simply under-qualified or under-experienced for the role. Sorting through cover letters and resumes that can number into the hundreds can be time-consuming and frustrating.
In our efforts to refine this process for employers – and potential employees – we constantly monitor human resources ads and websites in order to uncover employment “best practices” that demonstrate innovative hiring strategies. We were pleased to discover some very novel recruitment tactics at work right here in our own backyard, with a very “creative” twist.
HCA Mindbox Creative Communications is a Windsor-based marketing and communications firm with clients both local and international clients. Their most recent efforts to hire a talented graphic designer caught our attention in The Windsor Star. The company decided to use their culture of creativity to attract the best possible candidates.
“We had a lot of experience designing and writing ‘announcement’ ads for our clients that celebrated their achievements and their new team members,” said Andrew Ryan, creative director.
“These ads offer companies the opportunity to present themselves in the glowing light of success, growth, capability and advancement. In an ‘ah-ha’ moment of brainstorming, we came up with the concept of having prospective employees write their own announcement ads.”
The recruitment ad invited applicants to presume they had been invited to join the team at HCA Mindbox and it was time to announce their new placement to the world. And, rather than predictably placing the ad in the classified section of The Windsor Star, the ad was featured in the business section of the newspaper. This unique placement not only challenged potential employees to look beyond the “usual” to find the ad, it also allowed the ad to stand out from the cluttered pages of the classified section.
“At HCA Mindbox, we always strive to find not only the most proficient person to add to our team, but also the ‘right’ person,” said Ryan.
“And, ‘right’ doesn’t just describe skills, abilities and talent, it also epitomizes the person who fits seamlessly into our corporate culture. While that sounds like a stuffy bit of terminology, the truth is that our culture is one of open, borderless communication and collaboration.
“We absolutely believe that the best ideas can come from anywhere within our organization, and we’ve dedicated ourselves to building a team that works that way. A discordant member can easily throw any team out of rhythm, so we are extremely careful to maintain the balance.”
HCA Mindbox wasn’t just looking for a creative person. They were looking for someone who would respond to the creativity of this challenge, someone who would ‘get it’. The agency received nearly 50 applicants, most of whom demonstrated exactly the creative expression they were seeking.
HCA Mindbox is very happy to ‘announce’ that they have added Melissa D’Agnillo to their roster. D’Agnillo impressed the team with “her confidence, skill and just a little fearlessness.”
“The recruitment ad appealed to me right away,” said D’Agnillo. “It was so different from the usual ads I had seen, and it challenged me to create something that captured both my skills and my personality. I have to say, it’s the first time responding to an employment ad was fun!”
This history of creative hiring actually goes back more than 15 years, when a young graphic designer by the name of Andrew Ryan sent the agency a cheque in the amount of $25,000 along with his résumé – as a personal guarantee that he’d work for free if need be. That unique approach resulted in his being hired by the firm, (and paid!). Andrew quickly rose to the challenge, becoming the agency’s creative director and is now a senior partner with HCA Mindbox.
In another example of creative recruiting strategies, some years ago, in a search for a proofreader and typesetter (remember those?), the agency created a recruitment ad with deliberately placed spelling and grammatical errors embedded in the copy. Accuracy and exemplary writing skills are obvious requirements for success in the marketing communications industry. The ad challenged potential recruits to demonstrate their skills by proofreading and editing the copy. The challenge resulted in a successful recruitment drive, and the firm was able to hire one of their most proficient and diligent proofreaders.
“We have also extended our ‘sideways’ recruitment tactics to our client work,” explains Paul Charbonneau, president of HCA Mindbox.
“A local attorney who specialized in handling wrongful dismissal claims was looking for an innovative strategy to break free of the clutter of lawyer ads populating the pages of the newspaper. We placed his ad in a section of the newspaper that reflected pure logic wrapped in serendipitous thinking – the Help Wanted pages! What better place to find a recently wrongfully dismissed person than perusing the employment ads? The ads generated some of the best leads the law firm had had in months of advertising in the editorial pages, and demonstrated that we were capable of more than just creative ad design.”
“Creative hiring practices may not work in every industry – but we believe that crafting the right recruitment ad will help you choose from the best possible prospects. Once again, if they respond to the ad in the manner you had intended, they’re likely a good potential employee. They ‘get’ you and your corporate culture, and they’re able to demonstrate that understanding in their response.”
Special thanks to Paul Charbonneau, Andrew Ryan, Melissa D’Agnillo and the rest of the HCA Mindbox Team for sharing their story and continuing to support our intiatives. With the like-minded goal of retaining and tapping into our region's talent, Charbonneau and his team are on the path to creating a vibrant community with a bright future.
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