• Three Lessons From History’s Greatest Recruiting Campaigns

    Great recruiting campaigns are few and far between. But without a doubt, the ones that are exceptional are truly memorable and provide insights into what works and why.

    Here are some lessons that can be gleaned from three great recruiting campaigns.

    #1. Ernest Shackelton’s Masterpiece: Inspire Greatness

    William Shakespeare once noted that “brevity is the soul of wit.” Sir Ernest Shackelton, a famed explorer of the early 20th century, employed a deeply laconic approach in a famous “Help Wanted” ad he posted for one of his journeys to Antarctica. The ad read: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.”

    Although the ad seems calibrated to scare off just about everyone, a 1923 Hugh Robert Mill biography of Shackelton reported that no fewer than 5,000 people responded. The brilliance of this ad is in its stark honesty and sense of heroic grandeur. In this regard, it is perfectly geared to its audience: restless men willing to endure great sacrifices in order to achieve lasting fame. This is a recruiting ad that resonates and inspires.

    #2. The Bletchley Park Codebreaker Campaign: Ween Out Talent

    During World War II, the Allies were in dire need of talented codebreakers to defeat Nazi Germany’s Enigma communication system. How did they go about recruiting fresh blood? They did this by cleverly placing a puzzle in the January 13, 1942 edition of the London Daily Telegraph for readers to solve.

    Five readers were able to solve the puzzle within the allotted 12 minutes, Subsequently, several of these individuals were recruited to work as codebreakers at Bletchley Park, the United Kingdom’s main decryption site. This work ultimately led to deciphering German communications, helping the Allies to win the war.

    So why are contests like these effective for recruiting? Two reasons: They automatically narrow the pool of applicants to those who are capable of doing the job, and they elicit feelings of curiosity and competitiveness. Modern companies such as Google and Microsoft have successfully used similar techniques during their application process to identify applicants with the unique skills they need.

    #3. IKEA’s Low-Cost Recruiting Push: Illicit Curiousity

    Although this campaign doesn’t have the historic backdrop of World War II or the Age of Exploration, it has something else that puts it in the recruiting campaign pantheon: absurdly high return on investment.

    Here is the story: IKEA placed job descriptions and other career materials inside their product packaging. When customers returned home to open their furniture boxes, out tumbled a set of instructions for starting a career at IKEA. As a result, the company made nearly 300 new hires.

    IKEA’s virtually no-cost recruiting campaign reached a large audience of people already predisposed to like IKEA. This is a clever, yet simple idea that delivered significant results to the organization thanks to its elegant execution and highly targeted audience.

    The Bottom Line

    Great campaigns resonate with audiences, delivering profound rewards. Businesses should think outside of the box when developing a campaign to advance their cause. This way, you will discover top talent with the passion and skills you seek to achieve outstanding results.

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