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Recruitment Case Study – Going Off-Screen

High tech recruitment in Israel has become a real struggle in the last couple of years.

There’s an abundance of candidates but also ample competition, and most companies find it virtually impossible to stand against the giants like Amazon (which apparently offers more than double [Hebrew] than what other huge corporations do for some positions), Google, and the likes – its a David vs. Goliath style fight except David has asthma, Goliath is in a tank and god is preoccupied trying to beat the devil in Clash Royale.

Jokes aside, there’s also the issue of location – companies that don’t have their offices in the heart of Tel-Aviv or at least in its very near suburbs are almost automatically less attractive to most potential candidates regardless of the amount of time it would actually take them to get to the office since the city wasn’t planned with a high-tech boom, or more than a couple hundred cars for that matter, in mind (45 minutes of traffic inside Tel Aviv for your morning commute is pretty common).

If you’ve ever recruited people (while honestly having your company’s interest at heart and looking at the long term), you already know how difficult it is to find quality candidates that fit your existing team and culture that you have a good gut feeling about. It’s a tough needle to thread.

Like any challenge you face, if you can’t compete with the giant directly, you need to find a way to circumvent their strengths and make the most out of what you do have in your arsenal.

Playing to Your Strengths

Our team sat down and our CEO threw a simple question to the room – what does Persona.ly have to offer to a talented product manager (being the position we had the hardest time filling)? On a professional level, our product team said that compared to larger corporations they worked in at the past or their friends are currently working for, a product manager in Persona.ly has plenty of responsibility, while a product manager in a huge corporation can feel like a cog in the machine. Some candidates might consider this to be a disadvantage – and that’s fine, we wouldn’t want them to join the team with that mindset anyway.

Others mentioned that the team is fun, young, and dynamic. While all of these advantages feel true (based on my experience at least), we can’t pretend like they are unique to our company. Any experienced CEO in our industry understands that creating that fun environment, facing your team with challenges, and taking good care of your people overall is critical to your success as a business. A business provides a product or a service that is essentially an extension of your team and its quality is a direct result of their ability and dedication.

After the meeting we realized that what I described as a weakness in the first section of this article can also be perceived as an advantage – the fact that our headquarters are located outside of the heart of the bustling Tel Aviv means we’re certainly more attractive to candidates from our location and it’s surrounding cities, but, that we’re also attractive to candidates that live in Tel Aviv if they realize that commuting to our offices can be shorter than commuting internally in Tel Aviv since they would be going against the traffic.

If you’d allow me to be abstract for a quick second, I might be able to convince you that this realization is a bit poetic – as a company, we strive to be free to go against the current, or more accurately, create our own path if what we see others doing is inefficient (and sometimes flat out nonsensical), and if you ask me, communing to work within your own city for over 45 minutes and circling your house for hours on end to find parking is just that – nonsensical. Finding the candidates with this kind of mindset, trying to create their own path and to make the most of their time in general and their career specifically is what we should be trying to do.

Creating the Campaign

We know enough about targeting in online media to understand that we can’t really target that type of person in an online ad, and we started thinking where else we could run an ad outside of LinkedIn and Facebook.

I was positive our CEO Ofir was joking when he mentioned the idea of renting a billboard. Guess what? He wasn’t. After finalizing the bureaucracy to get the location we wanted, which was around 50 meters from our headquarters, on the side of the road going towards Tel Aviv, we moved to the fun part – working on the concept and the design.

With this billboard, we wanted to attract candidates who live nearby and aren’t aware of the opportunity right under their nose by highlighting both the quality of the positions we offer and the convenience of working close to home. Here’s what we came up with eventually:

Persona.ly's recruitment billboard

The background shows a busy road with traffic and angry drivers, contrasted to bicycle riders upfront gleefully enjoying their quick and stress-free commute. The sign on the office buildings in the back reads “Who said there aren’t any high-tech careers in Rehovot?” and the green traffic sign in the direction the riders are going to read “Science Park Rehovot” where our offices are located, and it actually pointed towards it.

We had to simplify the message, so we mostly focused on the visceral reaction people have to traffic and how working close to home would help them avoid stress. By using the wording “High Tech Careers” compared to “great jobs” etc. we tried to provide additional context about which positions we have to offer that we couldn’t really easily express in the illustration.

The Results

The landing URL got over 500 direct hits in a month and over 2,000 hits through social posts our team shared about the billboard, and we got over 200 C.Vs, and about 60% of them were relevant, one position was filled up until today and a few others are in the advanced steps of our hiring process.

The cost compared to what we would have spent to get the same amount of relevant C.Vs online is significantly lower, and we also learned through the interviews that a lot of the candidates weren’t aware of the opportunity till they saw the sign (hey, that’s pretty poetic too!).

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”

Oscar Wilde

While we wouldn’t pat ourselves on the back so quickly to say that our campaign can be considered “great”, we were surprised to see company after company create suspiciously similar campaigns, both online and offline. And we’re definitely flattered.

We consider the campaign to be a success, both in terms of ROI and branding, and we might just do another iteration of it in the near future.

Check out our open positions on our careers page.

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