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8 creative ways to recruit employees in tech

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creative ways to recruit employees

In today’s candidate-driven market, innovation in recruitment efforts is being put into new gear – in fact, it’s quite possible that it is driving an entirely new vehicle – especially when it comes to recruiting in the growing tech industry. In this post, we’ve lined up 8 recruitment campaigns which present creative ways to recruit employees.

Creative ways to recruit employees, aka what counts as creative in HR

Recruitment campaigns nowadays use videos, images, social media, and other new channels to stay relevant, rather than make a company a maverick in the industry. Today, IT companies regularly use hackathons and other events by organizing or sponsoring them to source and screen candidates. It’s clear that recruiting in IT isn’t as simple as posting a job ad anymore. Therefore the meaning of “new” and “innovative” is constantly being pushed to the limit, especially in IT, and we looked for those campaigns that really stood out.

We looked at quite a few companies that focused on attracting developers and saw a good number of really creative efforts. We tried to focus on the campaigns that would inspire and could be replicated or improved upon, so although we will mention some big names, we want to go into campaigns run by smaller companies in-depth.

Without further ado, let’s look at creative ways to recruit employees in tech which can be replicated in your business.


well technically Alphabet, (we really should do justice to its new name) has been ranked as the top employer for the past 5 years by Fortune. Since 2007 – the year that ranked Google as the top employer for the first time – its rank has remained there for almost a decade, being ranked 4th for only a couple of years. You would think that a company with such a reputation would never have to make an effort and think of creative ways to recruit employees. But boy, would you be wrong!

Google probably has the widest and most diverse approach to HR and there’s no lack of publicity on how they recruit – a movie, a book, over 21 million hits on “how Google hires”, and more. They set the bar both in terms of sourcing and screening their candidates, but also in retaining their employees, but they still struggle to get the best. To illustrate the extent of the problem of hiring quality developers, here are two campaigns that caught the attention of the public. Let’s take a look.

Why the Billboard?

image presenting creative ways to recruit employees from Google

The central task this campaign presents is by no means impossible to solve. It’s not a mathematical problem from the blackboards of the Good Will Hunting script. However, those who had successfully managed to obtain the site’s address have the necessary curiosity and initiative of a true problem solver – which on today’s labour market isn’t abundant. Notice also the lack of branding. That is, notice that Google decidedly refused to use the power of its brand to attract only those who are naturally curious to work out a task like this.

Another similar campaign presenting creative ways to recruit employees in tech that hits closer to home is the use of Google’s own search algorithm that placed carefully constructed, subtle ads when users constructed atypical search strings that indicated particular knowledge in a sector of the IT industry. Naturally, the algorithm supposes them to be outliers in the market, and a potential asset for the company, so it targeted them personally.

Another giant that hires a lot of tech, took to new avenues to find talent.


used the dating app, Tinder, to spark some love with potential hires. The truth of the campaign lies somewhere between recruitment and marketing, but nonetheless, it’s different enough in both respects to be on our list of creative ways to recruit employees.

Amazon web services in Seattle had a few of their employees create Tinder accounts to swipe potential candidates and wait for returning swipes. The campaign was met with mixed reactions according to Vice’s Motherboard, but its success cannot be measured exclusively in the number of hires it generated. Rather, it should be noted that it created a lot of buzz for the company’s effort, but moreover, it pushed the boundaries of recruitment once again. Some of Amazon’s Seattle employees took matters into their own hands to fill the niche first identified in this recruitment campaign resulting in a fresh dating app for geeks – perhaps in time recruiters will be looking to this app as a gold mine of potential hires, but probably not…

Amazon’s Tinder experiment isn’t the only time we’ve seen companies look for IT engineers in strange places; there are more.

Uncle Grey,

a company from Denmark turned one of their creative recruiting ideas with one of their campaigns when it employed gamers to serve as recruiters. The idea behind it was the following: their research indicated that developers spent quite a lot of their free time gaming. They decided that of those games, Team Fortress 2, was going to be their new source of candidates.

They paid several experienced players to add the company name to their profiles and put up recruitment posters all around the game’s map.

Unfortunately, the campaign’s designers are no longer with the company as its CEO told us, but we managed to confirm it’s positive effect. The campaign worked!

Atlassian (we’re actually their client, they’re pretty cool)

Here’s a company that gives new meaning to the phrase “going to new places” to recruit. Instead of just finding a new portal, a job board, social network, Australian Atlassian took to the streets of Europe with their “Europe, we’re coming to steal your geeks” campaign – with an actual goal of taking 15 developers in 15 days with them to Australia. And yes, they did it, winning themselves two HR awards. I say, creative recruiting strategies at their best.

picture with a smiling koala and caption you have the right koalafications and creative ways to recruit employees

Red 5 Studios

This example of a crazy recruitment campaign presenting creative ways to recruit employees in tech does not involve going into strange channels or flying half-way around the world and then driving around in a bus. It involves giving some love to all their potential candidates. Red 5 Studios was* a game-development company. When it comes to devs, that is a highly competitive market, and most senior devs will be either freelance or already employed. In order to leverage their company, Red 5 Studios decided to do something special: 100 iPods to the top talent they’ve identified in the market, pre-packed with their branding and a personal message from their CEO.

*its activity has somewhat slowed in the last few years, but their servers still run.


More recently another company ran a recruitment campaign and gave to their candidates. To attract people to apply, Luxoft ran a campaign together with a bunch of young designers to create unique t-shirts for each candidate to interview at the company. The campaign is interesting from a number of different perspectives. One, the company can probably count on some word-of-mouth between applicants, as the t-shirts aren’t limited, so long that the developers can perform a basic screen (anyone who landed an interview got one). Two, this campaign still allowed for a large number of people to be uniquely recognized and appreciated, and thirdly created long-lasting touch points with a good number of developers.

There are also those companies who believe that a bit of a challenge is a good starting point to a recruitment campaign.


Created a back-end hack challenge where programmers literally had to change the website’s code in order to submit their CVs. Much like the google billboard, it poses a challenge. This test, however, was a bit more hands-on. Rather than test the broad characterization of a problem solver, it literally made sure that only real, back-end developers are even able to get to the initial stage of the application process. It searched for something specific and it allowed the company to find such candidates creatively. Now they run similar challenges on Github:


Went another step further. Their search too was significantly specific. The UK based news portal was in search for a new SEO officer. They were also in search of a particular kind of SEO officer – a really geeky one. So, as you might imagine, for a widely read portal, publicizing the position wasn’t the challenge, but rather, funneling the huge number of candidates who would apply. Instead of sifting through the pile of CVs, DailyMail decided to hide the direction for an application in its “robot.txt”, effectively, allowing only the geeky-enough potential SEO who would look in the robot.txt section to even learn about the position. With:

“# August 12th, MailOnline are looking for a talented SEO Manager so if you found this then you’re the kind of techie we need!

# Send your CV to holly dot ward at mailonline dot co dot uk” which were the two lines of text written into the robot.txt file, they’ve funneled an otherwise endless stream of CVs. Rarely clever. And it worked.

Creative ways to recruit employees – key takeaways:

GIF with a happy dog carrying a paper bag picturing how good it is to design creative ways to recruit employees

  • Having a brand is not enough (Google)
  • Times they are-a changin’ (Amazon)
  • Think outside the ATS (Uncle)
  • Think outside… the continent? (Atlassian)
  • Leverage your company (Red5 Studios)
  • Invest a bit of special care in your candidates (Luxsoft)
  • Good preselection pays off (SeatGeek)
  • When looking for a needle in a haystack – use a magnet (DailyMail)

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