QR Codes and Sourcing – Is It Social?

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Aug 22, 2012

Editor’s note: There are new readers discovering SourceCon all of the time. With that in mind, we run popular posts from past years on occasion to highlight some of our older (but still great!) content. Enjoy!

A cool new technology that has gained popularity over the last year is the QR code. A QR, or “Quick Response”, code is a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with camera, and smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data. Some ways you can read QR codes include:

Obviously, the mobile option for reading QR codes is the easiest, hence its appeal to mobile marketing. Lots of companies are starting to use these QR codes to promote their brands, share specials, and basically just heighten awareness of their products and services. But can this be leveraged for recruiting, and more importantly for us, to bolster sourcing efforts?

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Siemens: In 2009, Siemens ran an ad in a German publication called The Journalist with a QR code that took interested readers to its company website and list of open positions. In the ad, it specifically noted what the QR was for, so readers knew where they would end up by scanning the code. (source:
  • TMP: TMP has created a QR code that it can place in collateral and advertising material that will take viewers directly to their job site (which is mobile friendly) to view openings. I’m not sure if they’re using it at the moment, but they had it in a blog post.
  • Michael Marlatt discussed in a post last year how Using QR codes in recruiting material “can easily drive prospective candidates to a website that provides details on upcoming opportunities, special recruiting events, contact information, and so on.” (also check out Marlatt’s presentation from a recent ERE webinar)
  • RECRUIT2retail, an Australia-based retail recruiting agency, uses QR codes in its print advertising to help candidates apply to positions online without having to remember or write down contact information. (source:
  • Companies like Google and Microsoft hold competitions regularly to let technically savvy individuals flex their programming, engineering, and development muscles. These contests obviously serve multiple purposes, one of which is to vet excellent technical talent to hire. QR codes could (should?) be used as parts of these competitions to test participants.

Even job-seekers can get in on the action. Ryan Rantacore writes on Personal Branding 101 how a job-seeker can add a QR code to their paper resume that, when scanned, can take the recruiter to an online resume, a social network profile, a portfolio, or provide additional information about themselves.

So – what’s the deal with sourcing? How can QR codes help make our life easier? Well, our job as sourcers is to uncover talent and potential candidates for our jobs. Some sourcers take it a step further and vet candidates for their recruiters. Particularly for those of you who source for technical roles, using QR codes in your recruiting advertisement will bring you individuals who are obviously interested in your opportunity and/or your company. They’re a great filter for determining interest in one of those two things. Also, they’re a good way to show interest in emerging technology or to test ability to follow directions. (i.e. ‘go to this website’, ‘send an email to with the subject line “QR code application”‘, etc.) So, there are some applications to sourcing by using QR codes as a sort of new-age job posting. If nothing else, it arouses curiosity and can help to facilitate a warm conversation. (not to mention that they’re just awesome, and often include hidden treasures!)

Now – the million dollar question: is this a “social recruiting” technique? Or just a(nother) shiny new toy for us to play with? Share your thoughts below.

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