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Crazy Social Media Recruiting Techniques: Do They Work?


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At one time, social media recruiting was a new and daring phenomenon. Now, at least 90 percent of recruiters use social media in the hiring process to find great candidates.

Some companies have even taken social recruiting out on a limb. Instead of using the social platform merely to engage with talent and promote openings, these companies are coming up with some truly out-of-the-box ways to attract talent.

Using skills-based contests to evaluate candidates might be smart, even if it comes in an unconventional package. As noted in a recent Forbes piece, a study by the University of California, Berkeley found that knowledge doubles every two years, and sometimes even every six months. The qualifications on your candidate’s resume might not be as impressive as their current knowledge is today, and contests could help you find a great hidden gem.

But the question remains: how effective are these creative social media recruitment techniques? Can you really find a great candidate from playing a video game, watching a video, or drawing a picture?

Here are some new ways companies have utilized social media to hire and whether these ideas are genius or madness.

Playing video games

You might have heard about watching video resumes to scout talent, but how about using a very different form of video to test candidates?

It might not seem like a video game could tell you all that much about a job applicant, but Israeli company Saatchi & Saatchi would disagree. The company uploaded a video on YouTube asking interested applicants to fire up popular PC game Diablo 3. Applicants would spend a half hour playing the game with the company’s CEO, showing off their creative skills and ability to cooperate.

Takeaway: For a programming job, asking applicants to play against the CEO for an interview opportunity is an interesting idea. The company is clearly looking for a creative, plugged-in applicant. However, limiting the search only to those interested or knowledgeable in one particular gaming platform means the company is potentially losing out on a whole host of other talented candidates.

Want an internship? Draw something

If you’ve wasted hours playing the picture game Draw Something on your iPhone, you might be in luck.

Muse, an advertising agency in Amsterdam, decided to use Draw Something to find what they called “drawesome” interns. Intern candidates would log on to the social gaming service and send their best creative drawing to the company. Then the candidates with the agencies favorite drawings would have a chance at nabbing an internship.

Takeaway: The logic behind this interesting application technique is that clear messages are vital to successful advertising. Whether a candidate is drawing a picture of a pony or Justin Bieber, it’s important they can convey their message both creatively and clearly.

It also helps determine whether or not a candidate would be a good fit for company culture. Despite the fun premise, however, drawing skills don’t tell you much about a candidate’s technical abilities or communication skills. It’s an interesting first step when hiring for a creative position, but a traditional resume or LinkedIn profile will still be necessary.

Blogging for the job

Blogging can be a powerful tool and a great way to share knowledge. New York City startup SeatGeek agreed, tasking candidates for its communications director position to write a sample blog post. Not only did candidates need to write clear, compelling content, but also they had to use social media to promote their work. The candidate with the best results and most interesting post eventually won the job.

Takeaway: There’s something to be said about testing work-related skills early in the hiring process through the power of social media.

Because content creation and promotion would be a large aspect of the job, this company led with a contest testing these essential skills. While this method wouldn’t work for every position, using social media tests to ascertain a candidate’s competency on core job requirements is a smart choice.

As social media recruitment explodes, more companies will develop outside-the-box ideas for finding great candidates. The key to using these strategies effectively is to make sure they are inclusive and test relevant skills candidates will need to perform the job. If you do, these methods might just help your company nab more creative hires.

What do you think of these creative methods of social media recruitment?

Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire , a video powered hiring network that connects job seekers and employers through video resumes and online interviews. Connect with Josh and Spark Hire on Twitter @SparkHire and Facebook.
  • Anonymous

    You know, I’m not sure about this.  I just went to your site and see a preponderance of personal images.  In many states it’s not legal to accept, retain or take photos/images of potential employees.  In fact, we are required to removed the images from submission that come in with them.  In many states, you can only retain or take images of actual hires and only for security purposes.  On the other side of this, it just seems like such a lazy way to do this.  Video conferencing is a great tool, however, I don’t see how playing a video game will help my recruiters to find the SVP of Audit we’re currently seeking.  I cannot read a facial reaction or body language from video gaming testing results.

  • Glenn Gutmacher

    This article boils down to create-and-promote-a-skill-game-as-a-contest. It’s really a social network version of asking someone to show their portfolio at an interview, trying to scale it in a way that encourages additional motivated applicants, but also in a way that illustrates ability better than a resume, where skills are easily exaggerated. As the previous commenter said, it doesn’t work for people like VPs of Audit whose skills are not really measurable in a contest submission. Whoever figures that out is the next Jeff Taylor/Mark Zuckerberg.