Recruit Like a Pirate

Recruit Like a Pirate


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

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

Unless your candidates just don’t understand your employer brand and the value of working for your business. If you fail to intentionally spread your employer brand story, you either are currently having or will soon experience problems recruiting top talent for your business.

You’ve heard the term “employer brand” and have probably thought it is something for large companies. Every company needs an employer brand and it can be the differentiator between you and your competitors. Ignoring your employer brand can cost you time and resources when you recruit. The biggest hurdle is to find your clear, simple message.

Let’s borrow some ideas from pirates to build your employer brand. Grab your recruiting materials—job descriptions, job ads, core values, mission, and vision, and use the next three steps to make your brand, lighter, faster, and better understood.

Step #1: Lose All Unnecessary Details into the Sea

A confused candidate will pass you by for your competitor who has a simple, clear brand. Candidates who have to weed through facts, figures, and unfamiliar terminology will jump ship. While company history and products might be interesting to you, candidates want to know what’s in it for them. Tell them a story that allows them to envision themselves playing a role in your company. Candidates care about the work they do and their ability to make a difference. They want to know about the impact and results of their work and how your company values align with their personal values.

Step #2: Make All Jargon Walk the Plank

We’ve all rolled our eyes or been irritated by cliché terms. You know which ones I’m talking about—team player, add value, cutting edge, and so forth. Those terms are vague and may mean different things to different people. And, jargon is boring. If you are serious about attracting great talent, find new, memorable, and wonderful ways to tell your story. Think about what makes your company and your jobs attractive to your ideal candidate. If you need some help crafting your story, ask your current employees what they like most about working for your company. What makes your company a great place to work? What are some things that might drive your ideal candidate crazy working for your competition? The answer to these questions is your basis for a job ad that will attract your ideal candidates because you understand their needs

Step #3: Cast All Unnecessary Words Overboard

Candidates are time-crunched just like you and are not interested in reading an essay about your jobs. You have about two to three seconds to grab the attention of your candidates. Make every word count and use the first two sentences of your job ad to grab your candidates’ attention and draw them into your story. If you are using a lengthy, boring job description as your job ad, stop right now. Try using an image instead of a text-based ad. Here is a great example of using an image and simple, clear words to appeal to your candidates and make them want to know more.

Creative recruiting ad

Set Sail

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” —Einstein

Simplifying and clarifying your employer brand story will go a long way towards getting more qualified pirates (candidates) on board who may otherwise have overlooked you. Once you have your core story, you are ready to express that in every job ad, social media channel, your website, and conversation with candidates. You will find your recruiting pirate ship runs faster, lighter, and more smoothly than ever before. You will easily outrun other pirate ships (competitor) on the high seas who are still over-complicating their employer brand.

In my upcoming book, The YOLO Principle: The Ultimate Hiring Guide for Small Business, you will find more tools and resources for attracting the right people to your business. Simply text RECRUITER to 44222 to get a free sample of The YOLO Principle™.

Of course, you can always ask for personalized help. If you need some insights to get started, schedule your insight session today, call mesend an email. And, the best part is that it’s FREE!

Rebecca Barnes-Hogg, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, is The Small Business Hiring Expert and works with small business owners and entrepreneurs who want to end their struggle to hire the right people. She is the author of the upcoming book, The YOLO Principle: The Ultimate Hiring Guide for Small Business, and a co-author of Rethinking Human Resources. She can be reached at 843-779-YOLO (9656) or