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Going guerilla to get to applicants

Photo Archiv Schweitzer: Limousine, davor Chauffeure, Frauen und Hunde

Searching for talent today

Flat hierarchies, a relaxed relationship with the boss and a creative working environment used to be the perks that helped agencies score – now they attract employees with flexible working hours, home office options, sabbaticals and in-house kindergartens. And yet the entire industry has a problem with recruiting. Experienced people are particularly hard to come by. This is hitting SMEs the hardest. Thirty- to fifty-person agencies can offer many of the USPs mentioned above, but top salaries like the “big ones” offer are, unfortunately, not an option. And beyond the major cities that draw large advertisers, competition in less urban areas is even greater when it comes to finding talent. Not an ideal starting position in the era of digital transformation in the competition for consultants, conceptional and UX designers, diverse online specialists and creative directors.

But how can we catch the attention of these sought-after candidates? With job advertisements alone? Hardly. Recruiting has to be done with more imagination, innovation or also with more humour if employers want to be noticed. With guerilla recruiting! Even candidates who already have a job somewhere else can be won over for your own agency with a really cool approach. Here are three examples that illustrate how you can create convincing personnel marketing strategies:

Unorthodox approaches

Pop-up shop: recruiting right under the competition’s nose

For example, the Berlin agency, Zum golden Hirschen, came up with an unorthodox approach. Surrounded by a forge of creativity that includes agencies like Antoni, BBDO, Dieckertschmidt, DDB and Aimaq von Lobenstein, the Hirsch team made an impression with a pop-up shop in Berlin-Mitte to celebrate their 20th anniversary. They drew attention with a golden doorway and a golden product range. The shop lured many curious passers-by, tourists and creative people from other agencies. And, incidentally, people could also submit an application and make first impressions. The idea for the pop-up shop in Berlin’s Mitte district was developed in a meeting. That was how the Berliners were able to show how much fun employees have at work and authentically demonstrate their identification with the agency.

“The Pig Bellies”: recruiting with a fake agency

Our own approach also became the talk of the town: on 1 April of last year we sent the new advertising agency, “Die Schweinebauchs” (translation: the pig bellies), out into the world with a streamlined agency concept and good intentions. Their claim: honest advertising with standardised advertising materials, absolute transparency and none of the big-headedness typical of the industry – that was what could be read in the trade press. Plus, food trucks placed in front of large networking agencies in Munich, Nuremberg/Erlangen and Frankfurt ensured a lot of attention. Posters campaigned with the slogan “FREE – honest food for honest applicants”. There were also give-aways, including an informational poster with typical eye-catchers and a teaser for the newly launched website, where we advertised plenty of very promising jobs. Interested applicants were redirected to an appropriate section of the Bloom website when they clicked on the link to the job. The idea for the fake agency and the associated caricature of the industry was a complete success – we were actually able to fill several positions with candidates who never would have found us otherwise.

Recruiting on Snapchat with Darth Vader and Yoda

Even large international agencies like McCann are forging brand new paths to finding the right people. McCann Germany attempted a real experiment with Snapchat Recruiting Week at the end of October 2016. Young professionals were encouraged to apply using Snapchat during “candidates’ week”. Young professionals from McCann Worldgroup came up with three motifs with Star Wars heroes Darth Vader and Yoda: “Snap yourself to success!”, “Do you have the guts?” and “If career you want, snap you must!” Of course – no one knows more about how the young target group thinks. The campaign ran for 14 days before universities and colleges began and used posters and social media teasers. It was supported during the week with Snapchat and YouTube videos of daily life at the agency. McCann also used the channel as a multiplier to give interested applicants a sneak peek behind the scenes. According to the agency, it was worth trying something new: overall, 500 Snaps came in and 50 of them were qualified applications. Their evaluation is still under way.

Conclusion: agencies have to become more resourceful

These three examples prove: agencies have to become more resourceful because creative human resources marketing strategies get faster results. The three agencies discussed successfully generated curiosity for their available positions. At the same time they used the opportunity to present themselves as an attractive employer, whether with a personal conversation or inspiring videos. The campaigns were also impressive enough to spark discussions in the Internet community, continuing to entice further applicants even after the campaign was over.

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