How many times have you read a candidate’s cover letter and found yourself actually dozing off? How many times have you (figuratively) rolled your eyes when candidates answer the question “what’s your greatest weakness” with “perfectionism”? How many times have you bored yourself asking that question?

If that’s your current hiring process, then you’re going to have to shake things up in order to hire innovative, talented people.

You want the rebels. The candidates who thrive on creative tasks and squirm when they’re asked to draw inside the lines. If you want innovative employees, you have to use innovative hiring methods to attract the right candidates. Here are just some ways companies are shaking things up in the recruitment space.

1. Video Applications

Because nearly every cell phone and laptop has a camera, video introductions as part of the application process are becoming more and more popular. Now, you don’t need applicants to spend a lot of time on the production value of the video—it’s simply a good way to get a better idea of the candidate’s authentic self. It’s also a good litmus test of whether or not the candidate will be comfortable speaking up about their ideas. Just be sure to include a time limit—and a theme, if you’re so inclined.

2. Social Media Challenges

Social media plays a crucial role in modern marketing efforts that target younger audiences. Major League Baseball is just one example of a brand leveraging social media to capture attention—in April of 2015, their app logged 1.8 billion minutes of usage. The same tactics marketers use to engage their audiences can also be used to find top talent.

Now that Millennials and Generation Z candidates are becoming a major part of the workforce, social media is also becoming an increasingly important part of the recruitment process. One of the perks of using this medium is that the possibilities are endless. Beautiful Destinations, a travel photography company, used this tactic to find a new team member, challenging applicants to create a travel video and use a specific hashtag to identify their entry. The contest had over 65,000 applicants—giving the team an incredibly large talent pool—and a whole lot of work.

3. Consider Offering to Pay for Their Education

If you’re really interested in attracting the top talent, you’re going to want to keep in mind that high-level talent are typically high-level learners. What does this mean? Well, you know how some people just can’t wait to get out of school? High-level talent tends to be the opposite of that – they LOVE to learn. In fact, they love to learn so much that many companies are finding they can attract talent that typically wouldn’t consider them by offering to pay for having them go back to school for another degree. Of course, if you’re a really small-business then finances are tight, but know you don’t have to pay for all of their tuition. You can even help them see if they qualify for scholarships or the Federal Pell Grant, which can be as high as $5,920 per academic year. Obviously, not every company is going to be able to afford to send potential employees to school, but if you’re an innovative company looking for innovative talent, then this may be just the right strategy for you!


Just as you get tired of reading the same old applications, applicants get tired of filling out the same old information. Gamification is a great way to make the process more fun for everyone, and turning your application into a game can help you get valuable information for making hiring decisions. The US Air Force used this method by creating a game to identify potential candidates while exposing them to some of the realities of working for the Air Force. Gamification is a great option for recruiting—the downside is that creating a custom game can be costly.

5. Virtual Networking

Job fairs and other college networking events aren’t a thing of the past, but more and more networking is moving online. 86% of recent graduates know how important networking is for landing a great job, but many recruiters aren’t taking advantage of digital networking to find innovative recent graduates. By leveraging online networking, Nestle Purina, Goldman Sachs and Unilever are just a few of the large companies that have dropped their recruiting costs while simultaneously accessing top candidates from schools all over the world.

6. Aerial Drones and Tinder

Some companies have gone beyond gamification and contents, and gotten REALLY creative. When aerial drones and dating sites are being used to recruit talent, anything is fair game!

One of’s recruitment strategies might not be practical (or ethical), but it certainly is innovative. Using an aerial drone, the company flew a “smart people wanted” banner past office windows in the hopes of poaching good candidates. Whether or not you think crossed a line, you’ve got to admit that the stunt was innovative—and attention-grabbing.

Creative agency Fetch lived up to their reputation by meeting potential interns on Tinder, the dating app. Using a profile they created, they matched with potential dream interns and got both interested candidates—and some entertaining responses.

Don’t Let Your Recruiting Stagnate

Whether you love or hate video intros, these recruitment ideas show how important it is to keep your recruiting process fresh. Keeping candidates (and your hiring team) on their toes will help identify the candidates who are ready to contribute to the innovation within your organization. If innovation is important to your company, you can’t let anything stagnate—including your recruiting efforts. No hiring manager wants a canned answer to what a candidate’s greatest weakness its. They want to know how a candidate is going to add value and come up with innovative solutions.


By Ryan Ayers

About the author

Ryan Ayers has consulted a number of companies within multiple industries including information technology and big data. After earning his MBA in 2010, Ayers also began working with start-up companies and aspiring entrepreneurs, with a keen focus on data collection and analysis.

Featured image via Unsplash.