21 Novel Recruiting Tactics and Ideas to Hire Better and Faster

How do we recruit people who are the best fit for our organization AND job duties?

As a business manager in a variety of industries with over fifteen years leading teams, I’ve been in your shoes. And I’ve asked myself this question many times, as I’m sure you have as well.

It’s one of the more vexing questions we, as leaders, ask ourselves when we have an opening. These days, it seems that we are running into an issue with more and more job postings remaining open for longer periods of time.

So why is that, and how do we find better candidates, not just plugging holes with mediocre ones?

3 Reasons Why Your Online Web Recruiting Ideas Might Need an Overhaul

First off, let’s start off with three reasons why our online web recruitment tactics likely need retooling.

1. Overreliance on Technology at Expense of Personal Touch

Many of us are guilty of this one; I know I am!

We get lured into the trap that technology should help us be more efficient at recruiting and processing candidates…and it should. But, we need to be very careful to not allow it to be used as an implicit excuse not to stay in personal touch with people. These are real people with hopes and fears about their employment. We can’t lose sight of that. We need to treat them with dignity by letting them know they didn’t get the job or keeping them up-to-date with where you are in the process.

Sometimes a warm call instead of a cold email is warranted even though it takes more time; perhaps, you could make these calls on your drive home to extend your day. Just don’t forget to be safe and use a bluetooth headset.

2. Website Isn’t Mobile Device Friendly

This one might seem obvious today, but you might be shocked how often I run across job portals that you have to pinch and zoom on a mobile device to interact and apply for a job. Take a look at your portal on a phone and tablet device to see if the desktop version is showing.

You might be surprised at what you see. If it does, this speaks volumes to job seekers about your organization’s grasp on technology, whether it is true for your entire organization or not. Perception is reality.

3. Implied Expectation That Everyone Needs Your Job

While this may be true in some cases, it isn’t in most. Employers still need to put on their selling shoes and convince candidates why they should work at their company. These reasons should be in the self-interest of candidates (work-life balance, pay, benefits, childcare, etc.) and not just what the company wants in job seekers.

Assume they don’t want to work for you and ask yourself, “How would I convince them otherwise?”

21 Fresh Recruiting Tactics You Mustn’t Skip

If we know we need to overhaul or tweak some of our recruiting ideas, then why haven’t we done it already?

We all are super busy and just need to take the time to slow down and add some of these new tactics to our toolbelt. But before we get to these new recruiting ideas, it’s important to start with an overarching strategy based on your recruiting goals (filling openings, training new and existing staff, retention, succession planning, etc.). Here are some questions to ask yourself to start thinking about defining your recruiting strategy.

  • What kind of candidates do you want target?
  • Are you looking to relocate people or find local talent?
  • How extensively will you need to train new hires? What about existing staff?
  • How will you screen candidates for both a skills and cultural fit?
  • How does your competitor retain their best employees (assuming they are doing this well)?

Now, let’s dive right into twenty-one recruiting ideas you can start implementing right away…

1. Display What Makes Your Culture Great


Do you offer flexible working hours? Does your team work more like a family?

Do you offer other unique benefits you can highlight as a reason to work at your organization? What is your purpose or mission, even if you are in a business?

Most people want to work for a company that cares about them as people, not just their work performance. They also like unique benefits and a sense of purpose and meaning in their work.

2. Create Engaging Videos

With video production costs all over the board from low to high quality and everything in between, the only reason not to use video is the time and effort to put together a storyboard or script and organize a team to shoot, edit, and star in it. This tool is a highly effective way to convey the feelings and emotions of working at your company.

Show off your team’s quirkiness, authenticity, or other traits, or you can take them through a “day in the life” of what it is like to work there. But don’t oversell things; most candidates want a fair and balanced view of the company. They don’t want to feel like they got sold a bill of goods and regret their decision later.

3. Go Against the Technology Grain

Using technology to sort, sift, and communicate with candidates is all the rage with Applicant Tracking Software. But this is off-putting to some of the best candidates since it tends to automatically weed out those who don’t fit the cookie-cutter mold of specific job requirements (based primarily on the lack or inclusion of keywords), even though they could do the job better, in many cases, than others who fit the precise mold.

Consider manually reviewing resumes rather than relying on computers to rank and yank. It is more time consuming, but it is worth the effort. As far as computers have come, they don’t have the knowledge and intuition of a great HR professional.

4. Treat Them As if You Are Dating

That’s a novel thought, isn’t it?

We tend to herd people through the recruiting process and forget that they are valued people. When we date a person, we try to woo them with a series of dates, calls, emails, texts, and gifts. Now, there are obvious differences between dating and hiring someone. No romantic stuff, but we can use the concept as a rough guide.

It can help you come up with new ideas by reframing the situation. Reverse roles and ask yourself what you would like to see from a recruiter trying to convince you to leave your company to work for them.

5. Consider Freelancers and Interns, But…

Often, we reach for the tool that is the cheapest, or at least “seems to be” on the surface. But it’s best to consider the fact that hiring freelancers or interns will likely give you less flexibility (you don’t control their hours as much as an employee) and sometimes less expertise/experience in exchange for the cost savings. Sometimes that is worth it; other times it isn’t.

6. Speak and Act Differently to Each Generation

Generation X, Millenials, and Boomers like to be approached differently, and it is easy to forget this when we are in the day-to-day HR grind. Check out this resource to tailor your messaging to each generation.

7. Reach out to Passive Candidates and Genuinely Flatter

Contacting someone at a direct competitor of yours and letting them know that you have followed them for awhile and noticed their work will usually get a candidate’s attention. Just be sure you are authentic and have done your homework. Solid candidates will sniff this out quickly. Offer to meet them for coffee to learn about their career goals, not just your goal of potentially hiring them. Don’t forget to make it about them. Reach out to them via LinkedIn or another tool like ContactOut which is a powerful way to obtain a candidate’s email address.

8. Target Niche Job Boards, Not Just General Ones

While large, general sites like Indeed, Monster, Careerbuilder, etc. are important to post your jobs on, don’t forget about niche job boards. It can be as simple as googling your industry plus the word “job board” or targeting the department (like marketing), the word “job board”, and/or your area.

For example, Big Shoes Network has a site only for marketing jobs in the South and Midwest. Also, you can check with colleagues, friends on social media, and industry trade groups to gather more options.

Generally speaking, the more niche you get with job postings, the higher the quality candidates that you uncover.

9. Leverage Employee Referrals Through Bonuses

Offer a $500, $1,000, or larger bonus to an existing employee if she recruits a new employee who stays longer than a certain number of months. This is a win-win. It is important to put certain restrictions on this like length of employment so people don’t try to game the system.

10. Continual Training for Your Recruiters


There is only growth or atrophy; there is no maintenance mode for job skills.

Particularly these days with the world moving faster and faster, we all need to sharpen our skills monthly, if not daily. Supply your recruitment team with formal and informal training, and it doesn’t always have to cost money. There are many reputable blogs with applicable and valuable training information online.

11. Profile Your Best Employees and Seek Similar Candidates

Wish you could clone Bob or maybe Susan?

Find out what makes them tick and why they are so successful at work and use that list of traits as a guide for measuring other candidates against.

12. Ask Past Employees Who Performed Well Who They Recommend

For people who are no longer employed by your company, there are generally two camps. Those you wish you could have back, and those you would rather not.

For the former group, reach out to the top performers by phone or email and ask who they would recommend for a job opening. The former employee will be flattered that you remembered them and asked, and you will either find a quality candidate or renew a connection.

13. Seek Talent in Unobvious Places

If you are seeking customer service representatives, check out some local restaurants and retail employees and, if impressed with how they handle themselves, offer them an interview for your job. Be creative with this one; you never know where a great candidate will come from.

14. Offer Cash to New Employees to Opt-out

“Hold your horses, Miles!”, you might say.

Why would I pay someone to leave that I’ve just spent blood, sweat, and tears to get in the door? Amazon and Zappos do this to encourage people after completing training and annually to ask themselves if this is really where they want to be. It sounds counterintuitive, but it is a good way to help those who aren’t really committed to move on and make room for someone who will be.

15. Buy Ads for Keywords Your Ideal Candidates are Searching for

You can use Google Adwords to place text-based ads for keywords your candidates are searching for and direct them back to the job posting on your site. Be careful not to rely too heavily on keywords that are most obvious since you will likely get candidates that have the exact experience and industry the job description calls for.

Challenge yourself to find keywords that might catch the eye of a passive candidate or one that isn’t in your industry but has some crossover appeal.

16. Ask Non-Traditional Questions of Candidates

Most people have polished their answers to typical questions; these are what I call “professional interviewers”. And we recruiters have a hard time knowing whether someone that is good at selling themselves will be good at the job or fit in with the culture. Some atypical questions I ask are:

  • Who is your hero and why?
  • If I asked you to clean a toilet, would you?

The point isn’t necessarily to be outrageous but to throw them a curve so that their answer is more likely genuine, rather than rehearsed.

17. Stage a Virtual Job Simulation

Have candidates manage a budget, buy supplies, schedule timelines, and manage employees all within a simulation. This can happen live and in person or via an online game or a mobile app.

Or you can come up with an entirely different simulation to give the candidates a feel for the job; plus, the company gets to see how well they perform relative to other candidates. It’s usually a good idea to put a time limit on this to ensure it is a fair assessment from candidate to candidate. Review this article for simulation ideas.

18. Does Your Website Need Updating?

Nearly all candidates applying for your job are going to check out your website, social media, review sites, etc., and you don’t want them to be disappointed in what they see. Take an active role in ensuring your website and social media don’t look dated or have misspellings or other warning signs to candidates that you don’t care that much.

You might think that it doesn’t matter, but that impression says a ton, and for the best candidates, it absolutely does matter. In some cases, they won’t even apply if things look off.

19. Host a Poker or Other Game Night

This will give you a window into their risk taking, analytical skills, and personality; plus, it can be a lot of fun!

Get crazy creative with your game selection; it can have a tie into what you are looking to understand about the candidates or just be a way to get them to loosen up and be who they really are, not a stilted version of themselves you usually get from the polished interview.

20. Have Them Complete a Simple Job-Related Project

You could create a simple coding project for a developer or a writing assignment for a marketing professional or just about any other job-related task. Remember to keep it job-related and simple so it doesn’t take them too long to complete (20-30 minutes), especially for candidates who have little to no chance at getting the job. Alternatively, you could ask only your top 3-5 candidates to do this as a final evaluation step.

21. Screen Candidates Using a Behavioral Assessment

This non-traditional tactic will help you see how the person regularly behaves in certain situations; I’ve used different assessments over time and have always found them useful. There are certain limitations and cautions you should be aware of, like not using it solely to make the hiring decision but rather as one of many tools. Check out this SHRM article on using them to increase the odds of hiring the better “fit” candidate.

Need Imaginasium to Enhance Your Recruitment Tactics and Ideas?

Has this post given you a lot to think about implementing?

If your head is spinning, and you are not sure where to start, please give us a call or email us. We would love the opportunity to see how we might be able to help you with planning, and/or execution of recruitment tactics and ideas to identify and retain the right candidates as well as reduce your open job count dramatically.

See more posts about Employer Recruiting/Retention​ Communications​

About the author:

Miles Anthony Smith

Miles is Imaginasium's director of digital marketing. He is a thoughtful marketing strategist that is both creatively and analytically focused with experience in industries as varied as consumer goods and services. Miles oversees all aspects of digital marketing, including website development, content marketing, and other digital marketing campaigns that drive both traffic and conversions. Connect with him on Twitter @Miles_Anthony.