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4 Reasons to Turn Your Talent Search Into a Contest

Need to hire but dread the process? Let the crowd do the dirty work for you.
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If you're looking for talent you can either hire a recruiting company or suck it up and post job descriptions yourself. But here's a third option: Holding a contest.

Twice in the past year the online crowdfunding platform GiveForward has offered a choice from a wacky collection prizes to anyone who refers someone that the Chicago-based company ends up hiring. Incentives include things like a year's worth of burritos, the person's face on a billboard for 30 days with the caption "best human in the world ever," a mystery prize (which could be a boat, the company teases), or plain old cash.

GiveForward CEO Ethan Austin says there are several benefits to hiring this way. Here's why:  

You own the story

Part of a recruiting company's job is to make sure a job description accurately communicates the roles and responsibilities of a certain position. But when you carefully craft one yourself you can let your company culture shine through. "It attracts people and it keeps the boring people out," Austin says. "Our job descriptions tend to be a little weird and goofy, and it kind of acts as filter to keep people who probably wouldn't be a culture fit from applying."

More applicants

You'd think it would be more difficult to fill an executive position when you're fishing a smaller pool of talent, but Austin says when the company was putting out feelers for a marketing VP, the contest yielded 197 applicants. Compare that with an entry-level customer service position that drew 116 applications without a contest. 

Millennials

Nearly all of GiveForward's employees are millennials, so Austin knows a thing or two about how they think. He says that they want four things: To work with smart people whom they can learn from, to make an impact on the world, to make an impact on the company they work for, and to like their co-workers. GiveForward addresses all these elements.

Great PR

When holding a hiring contest, GiveForward sends its job description to well-connected investors, posts it on Facebook, and emails it to employees and personal connections. Once it's passed on to people who may not have a relationship with the company (and thereby aren't inclined to help), the incentives keep them sharing. Meanwhile, all these people are reading GiveForward's company story.

Austin recalls a woman who became a fan of the company after reading a GiveForward job description. She became a GiveForward user when her company laptop was stolen and she needed to raise money for another. "Sharing what you believe in and showing people what you stand for turns out to be an opportunity to attract people who would actually use our site," Austin says.

GiveForward, which launched in 2008, recently surpassed $100 million raised on the platform.

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IMAGE: Corbis
Last updated: May 30, 2014

CHRISTINA DESMARAIS

Christina DesMarais is an Inc.com contributor who writes about the tech start-up community, covering innovative ideas, news, and trends. On Google+, add her to one of your circles. Have a tip? Email her at christinadesmarais (at) live (dot) com.




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