Wednesday, 02 May 2018 13:56

Recruit Like a Pirate

Written by Rebecca Barnes-Hogg, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Recruiting is often a bold adventure that can feel like a pirate sailing the high seas. Like recruiting, running a pirate ship has lots of moving parts. It needs skilled professionals to sail it well and must always be on the lookout for other pirates (aka your competitors) who are also searching for bounty on your high seas (pool of candidates).

Pirate captains (hiring managers and recruiters) want a tight ship to outrun rivals and keep their destination on the horizon. With a clearly communicated employer brand and an accurate map, it will be fair skies and following seas.

Unless your candidates don’t understand the value of working for your business. Your employer brand is the differentiator between you and your competitors.

Let’s build your employer brand with a little help from the pirates. Grab your recruiting materials—job descriptions, job ads, core values, mission, and vision, and use these three steps to make your brand lighter, faster, and better understood.

Step #1: Lose Unnecessary Details into the Sea

A confused candidate will pass you by for your competitor who has a simpler, clearer brand. Candidates who have to weed through facts, figures, and unfamiliar terminology will jump ship. Tell candidates a story that lets them see themselves working for your company. Show them the impact and results of their work and how your company values align with their personal values.

Step #2: Make Jargon Walk the Plank

 Clichés are annoying. You know which ones I’m talking about—team player, value added, and cutting edge. Jargon is boring. To attract great talent, find new, memorable, and wonderful ways to tell your story.

Step #3: Cast Unnecessary Words Overboard

Candidates are time-crunched just like you. You have two to three seconds to grab their attention. Make your words count and use the first two sentences of your job ad to grab your candidates’ attention and draw them into your story. Consider using an image instead of a text-based ad.

Set Sail

Now you have your employer brand, express it in your job ads, social media channels, website, and conversations with candidates. Your recruiting ship now runs faster, lighter, and more smoothly than ever. You’ll easily outrun other pirate ships (competitors) on the high seas who are still overcomplicating their employer brand.


Want help? Click this link to schedule a time to talk with me.

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Rebecca Barnes-Hogg, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, works with organizations who want to hire the right people to be more efficient, effective, and profitable. She is the author of The YOLO Principle: The Ultimate Hiring Guide for Small Businessand a co-author of Rethinking Human Resources. She can be reached at 843-779-YOLO (9656) or

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