Recruiting from Communities

Here’s an idea. It’s well known that you can exploit recruitment activity for promotional advantage. For instance job adverts often promote the business for which the recruitment is sought. So why not do the same thing in reverse? Decide on a theme – technology or business – and then create a community for the benefit of your business.

A good means to start a community and to create a theme is to design a competition. Some years ago I designed a competition for undergraduates for a large telecommunications company. They were invited to submit proposals on how technologies (with which the telecommunications company was involved) could be applied to new applications. A prize was offered for the most innovative idea.

One of the technologies related to Radio Frequency Identification Tags (RFIDs) They comprise a memory and processor and are generally powered by an RFID reader. A simple RFID application is the Oyster card – it gives you transport access when read at the station or on the bus. It also records your fares and your credit balance.

Back to the competition: the company targeted the technology departments of 20 universities. The competition was designed, invitations sent and telephone calls made to university careers advisers. The result was encouraging. Interest was high, the universities were supportive and the competition was well subscribed. It generated great ideas from a high number of bright people.

The winning entry proposed that RFIDs could be placed in mobile phones and read by electronic adverts so that the adverts could be passenger specific – similar to the application in the film Minority Report. The idea was well thought through and the company managers were impressed.

And this is where the community started. The bright applicants – those with innovative ideas – were invited to become part of a vibrant community to test products and markets. The students then had direct access to managers within the company.

The result was that the community brought together the vested interests of students and the company for mutual benefit. Students had the opportunity to test products and learn about business, valuable for their studies. And the company had access to a community of clever young people for product research.

But it didn’t end there. The community is now used for ongoing market research and dialogue with bright undergraduates with a view to permanent recruitment.

Of course, communities are appropriate for interaction right across the employment spectrum from the young to the mature. It can apply to organisations across industry and commerce from retailing to pharmaceuticals.

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