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Ridiculous Recruiting Tactics That Work

Nestled in Austin’s bustling downtown scene is SpareFoot, a lean start-up that, in a mere 5 years, has become the country’s largest marketplace for self-storage. SpareFoot has quickly joined the ranks of BuildASign.com, uShip and other local superstars as one of the most digitally innovative, exciting and fast-growing companies in Austin; not to mention, one of the most coveted places in Austin to work. We caught Rachel Morse, recruiter for SpareFoot, in a rare free moment to enlighten us on the company’s shockingly ridiculous recruiting tactics and why she thinks they work.

SpareFoot’s first rule in recruiting? Be cool. Of course, “being cool” is easier said than done, but the point here is to foster your company’s brand for the sake of better recruiting. In LinkedIn’s 2013 Global Recruiting Study, 85 percent of respondents viewed employer brands as holding significant impact on ability to hire great talent.For SpareFoot, this means fully and brazenly embracing its quirky culture, which has transformed its recruiting efforts into something that seems more like viral marketing. SpareFoot’s job page features a 5-minute satirical “mockumentary” that follows an unfortunate job candidate through a painfully bizarre interview process. While the interview depicted is thankfully fictional, the actors are real employees (including Morse, pictured here), all the way up to the company’s CEO Chuck Gordon.

“At a growing, successful startup like SpareFoot, company culture matters a lot,” Gordon explained when the video was released. “Our recruiting ‘documentary’ is a funny way of saying SpareFoot’s culture is not like the rest.”

Also outside the norm at SpareFoot are the company’s envy-inducing executive chef-prepared lunches provided to all employees (featured here on NPR), a gossip-worthy employee pin-up calendar, and Morse’s near-complete disregard for conventional recruiting tactics.

“I met the last couple of hires for our development team at events and bars rather than on expensive job boards,” she admits. “I like to rely on selling the company in person, and creating a magnet with our website’s job board and display of culture, rather than passively posting job openings and accepting only those job seekers who apply.”

But don’t get the wrong idea: Recruiting at SpareFoot is not just about seeking out those who value fun, games, and oddities. Morse says that “being smart is quality number one” for job candidates. Adding, “We look for people who are able to handle a lot of different tasks and are able to be generalists in their field.”

And as for the candidates, while the ridiculous gets their attention, the deal clincher remains solidly professional. “The attraction depends on the department,” she explains. “For example, the developer talent is attracted by the tech challenges, and the sales talent is attracted by the growth potential.”

For more unconventional ideas, check out what our staff and our friends at Dice.com suggest.

  • Chase down the “unrecruitable”: ideal candidates who seem perfectly happy in their current jobs. You’d be surprised who bites.
  • Hold a VIP happy hour or open house in which your team and colleagues each invite a guest who is of equal caliber.
  • Request the answer to a basic math problem be included in the cover letter, which will weed out those who aren’t paying attention.
  • If the position calls for a true go-getter, consider only allowing phone calls in place of overly preened resumes.

In what ways have you ventured outside “the box” in your recruiting efforts? Have some paid off surprisingly well? We’d love to hear your story!

Image Credit: SpareFoot / Business Wire