Our Company Had a Minuscule Budget for Finding Talent. So We Decided to Get Crazy.

Our Company Had a Minuscule Budget for Finding Talent. So We Decided to Get Crazy.
Image credit: Betabrand

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Founder and CEO, Betabrand
3 min read
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Betabrand, my online clothing retail platform, recently needed a new VP of digital marketing. Normally, a company like ours would hire a headhunter and pay tens of thousands of dollars to fill the position, but that option didn't sit well with our shoestringy startup culture. So, we turned our garage door here in San Francisco into an irresistably shareable social media post that generated outside awareness and hooked more than 20 great candidates in under a week.

Cost: $1,000. Opportunity to amuse people on Facebook: priceless.

Happily, the ad got a wild reaction -- both from people walking by and an extended audience on social media.

Related: Attract More Talent With Video Job Ads

And the response grew. Hundreds of people commented on the photo (above) that we shared on our Facebook page. And the comment thread was used widely.

The upshot? We succeeded in getting the attention of marketers without paying a dime to a talent recruiter. About a month after we put up our most recent help-wanted hack -- that purposely pathetic garage door sign advertising our opening for a VP of marketing -- I was pleased to introduce to my team the winnning candidate, Doug Hoggatt.

Yes, we actually ysed a sandwich board for this UX designer ad.

Yes, we actually ysed a sandwich board for this UX designer ad.
Image credit: Betabrand

Our office is on Valencia Street in San Francisco.   And on weekends, about a third of Silicon Valley's internet talent walks along it in search of artisanal coffee or something decidedly hipper.  So, we thought a sandwich board job post would crack people up. 

And, in fact, we hired two developers off this sign. Had we paid for recruiters, we would have spent thousands. 

Oh, my, did we need a VP of digital marketing. So, we painted our garage dDoor.

Oh, my, did we need a VP of digital marketing. So, we painted our garage dDoor.
Image credit: Betabrand

This big, red shiny help-wanted ad painted on our headquarters garage door -- our most recent effort at job outreach -- purposely made fun of our impoverished circumstances as a startup, even using a poor man's "comic sans" font. 

Comic sans, for those who don't know, is a sans serif, child-like handwriting font that designers hate. That font choice drew comments -- hundreds of comments -- when we posted a photo of the sign on our Facebook page. Other viewers tagged friends who would want to know about our opening.

Nothing hooks 'em like Comic Sans. It's one of those internet oddities, like cat videos and bacon-heavy dishes, that eyeballs can't resist. I figured the offending font would stop people in their tracks and make them snap photos to share.  And, share they did!

Ultimately, our post gained thousands of views online, and brought us some great candidates -- in under a week.

 

Help! UX developer needed! -- our online version of the sandwich board.

Help! UX developer needed! -- our online version of the sandwich board.
Image credit: Betabrand
I asked our engineering team to purposely deface our homepage, in search of a new UX developer. They delivered, and then some, creating a hilarious homage to Geocities and Lycos sites.  Word of Betabrand's "horrible home page" spread across the UX community, and in flowed the applicants. 

Hey, engineers, wear whatever the heck you want.

Hey, engineers, wear whatever the heck you want.
Image credit: Betabrand

This is a screen cap from a video we posted. We wanted to let engineer-candidates know what we needed at Betabrand. We also wanted to play off the fact that HP a few years back tightened up its dress codes, discouraging engineers from wearing t-shirts to work.

I'm not sure if that's still the case, but this news rocked the engineering community at the time, giving Betabrand the current opportunity to create a funny recruiting video with engineers dressed in particularly tacky tees. 

By the way, we have no dress code for engineers.

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