SmartRecruiters Blog

4 Unorthodox (but Successful) Recruitment Campaigns

Recruiting can be a tricky game. You never ‘know’ what will work until you try it. 

There are some major corporations integrating new concepts into their recruiting process in order the find talent. There are some smaller companies and independent recruiters who use creative methods to satisfy the needs of their clients and organizations.

You’ve probably heard of gamification by now. It’s the process of adding gaming principles and metrics to procedures and a way to test candidates, increase engagement, collaboration and communication.

“The three concepts that every business software should steal from the gaming playbook,” wrote Danny Lee in the PandoDaily, are “contextual & timely information, performance summaries, and the power of dangling a carrot.”

It also allows a company to make its recruiting processes more interactive while helping to identify those qualities that best match the job qualifications.

Let’s start with a couple of major organizations, and their unorthodox recruitment campaigns that paid off big time.

Unorthodox Recruiting

4. My Marriot Hotel Game

Marriott International created a hotel themed game, like Farmville, to help identify talent for various positions in their hotels. The game, according to Marriott, allowed perspective talent to “create their own restaurant, where they’ll buy equipment and ingredients on a budget, hire and train employees, and serve guests.  They’ll earn points for happy customers…and lose points for poor service.  Ultimately, they’ll be rewarded when their operation turns a profit.”

3. Department of Defense’s Robotics Race

The Department of Defense understood that it was just too expensive and dangerous to provide realistic job previews so they developed several gaming programs which are cheaper and easier to execute in order to fill positions and evaluate potential candidates. One of their early events (2003), the “Grand Challenge”, a contest of building autonomous robots then racing them on a 250 mile course, allowed the Department of Defense to recruit from a talent of pool not only of contestants but also of attendees.


But wait, if you think I was only going to write about gamification, you are wrong. I’ve saved the best for last. Here are a couple of my favorite real life unorthodox – odd, weird, outside the box, whatever you want to call them –  recruiting strategies that were actually successful:

2. Probation Hiring Pool

Teri Levy, a talent manager in the Nashville area worked at an industrial staffing business and they needed candidates that could perform general labor and pass a drug test, so they decided to partner with the local probation officers! That’s right; they reached out to the probation officers because they knew that parolees needed jobs and had to pass drugs tests regularly. The result was a mostly clean applicant pool that was ready to work. It was a very low cost– low risk situation, and it worked!

1. Job Ad in a Bar\

Robin Schooling, an HR professional with 25+ years experience, had an idea while at her favorite “watering hole” having an afterhours cocktail. Her company needed workers for their packaging operation. She looked around and saw plenty of potential applicants, so she created fliers advertising the shift hours making a note “this allows for plenty of quality time at your favorite neighborhood social venue.” And it worked!

There you have it. Gamification, probation officers, and the local pub can all be used to recruit, depending on your company’s needs. That’s what recruiting is all about; discovering what you need then finding the ways  – be it traditional or unorthodox – to get those jobs filled.


Gladiator In A SuitChris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who also helps job seekers write great resumes and blogs. His work can be found at, & Photo Credits GoodWill Hunting Trailer, Wikia Moe’s Tavern, & modified flickr Peter.

SmartRecruiters is the only platform that managers and candidates love. 

Chris Fields

Chris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs and dispenses great (not just good) advice at Cost of Work & ResumeCrusade.