This week's guest post comes from Christine Gertz, CAPS' Library and Information Specialist.
At the end of May of this year Flickr, owned by Yahoo!, embedded a job posting in its source code as a way to attract programmers. Since Flickr had just gone through a massive redesign, they gambled that programmers would be looking at the source code and find the hidden job posting. You can still find jobs posted on Flickr’s own job posting website, but this technique meant that Flickr could find candidates who were looking at the source code out of curiosity, and that the media would pick up their clever ploy and spread word of their search much farther than they could expect to.
This got me thinking about other creative job posting efforts that have come to the attention of CAPS’ staff in the past year. BBR Saatchi & Saatchi of Israel was having difficulty recruiting a programmer when a junior staff member suggested they select candidates based on their resume as well as their team skills when partnered with the CEO in a delve into Diablo 3. According to an article in Bloomberg Businessweek, the Hell of a Job campaign managed to find six suitable candidates who were willing to accompany the CEO’s level 60 barbarian for a 30 minute interview conducted in Sanctuary. BBR Saatchi and Saatchi were able to find a programmer, while also garnering international press for their campaign and company making Diablo 3 Number 5 on the Top Ten Google Searches for 2012, ahead of the 2012 Olympics but beat out by Gangam Style on the list.
For years Facebook has run programming challenges as part of their recruitment efforts which has uncovered applicants far from their immediate region, as well as applicants who might be considered “non-traditional.” As described in George Anders’ book A Rare Find, the purpose of these challenges, amongst others described in the book, is to find capable applicants who might not be revealed by the work experience provided in their resume. The difficulty is for employers to devise a challenge that attracts applicants they might not have found through traditional means, and challenge them with a problem the organization needs to solve, so that the potential hire can demonstrate their ability to solve real problems facing the organization.
Lest you think that only computer programmers have their creativity challenged, there are several Canadian recruitment efforts that called for unusual application methods. The Greenest Workforce, an initiative of the Forest Products Council of Canada, was launched by advertising internships that candidates applied for by submitting a YouTube video. Young and Free Alberta, a social media hub operated by Servus Canada, has successfully recruited several “spokesters” by asking candidates to submit a YouTube video, though this year the YouTube video was optional and they asked for the traditional resume and cover letter. On our campus, DiscoverE asked candidates to submit a “creative cover letter” from a poem to a YouTube video, which revealed a pool of highly creative candidates with strong presentation and teaching skills, uncovering abilities that might not have been apparent from the resume.
Employers use unusual job postings for a few reasons, but most likely because if an unusual recruitment campaign is picked up by the media it can widen the applicant pool while also increasing name recognition of the organization. BBR Saatchi and Saatchi, for example, will probably remain in search results for years, and appear in results with the search terms and phrases Diablo, Blizzard Entertainment (the makers of Diablo) and hell of a job, offering huge international exposure to the firm. For programmers who love Diablo 3, they may think of BBR Saatchi and Saatchi fondly, possibly aiding in their recruitment for additional programmers.
For a job seeker, these campaigns have both benefits and drawbacks. A huge benefit: you can find out about an opportunity or a campaign that may not come to your attention without the press coverage. If you are a successful candidate on one of these campaigns, it may show as the first result when an employer searches your name in Google. As a drawback, if your application is public but not a quality application, your poor submission will also appear in search results with the marketing efforts of the organization. Based on the amount of links and notoriety a successful campaign can accrue, your Google search results could list this as number one in your search results for years.
When you encounter a job posting that has unusual application requirements, you can contact CAPS for advice and assistance. We might even be able to put you in touch with players who could help you level up in Diablo 3 before your interview.