First things first: creative people are not always fine artists, interior decorators, set designers or fashion moguls. The term "creative" covers a vast array of skills and qualities and, it’s fair to say, makes all the difference to a candidate’s suitability for a role.
There is a broad and diverse range of professional positions that demand a high level of creativity. Software designers, for example, need to be extremely imaginative to succeed at what they do. Event planners have to be able to organize all kinds of occasions: from million dollar product launches to intimate fundraisers; copywriters need to find unexpected and engaging ways to grab (and keep) their readers’ attention; and teachers...teachers of all people have to think outside the box to keep their students interested and inspired.
The trouble is, creativity comes in all shapes and sizes, so how can recruiters make sure they can spot the creative diamonds in the rough?
Traditional Recruiting Methods Kill Creativity
The tired old methods of recruitment positively defy imagination and originality. The traditional resume hardly lends itself to those candidates out there who may not have followed a typical career path by societal standards. They may not have a relevant degree. They may not have held a role in a company with a salary. With an increasing number of freelancers who are harnessing the internet to showcase and develop their skill (blogs for writers, personal websites for photographers, self-published apps for software designers), it’s pretty difficult for these individuals to make the typical application form work for them.
One potential solution: scrap the resume, scrap the forms...and just ask for a pitch instead.
Creative people will delight and surprise you if you let them. Open your inbox, open your mind and invite them to come to you. Ask for video submissions, a pitch on paper, a 500-word statement or images that let your candidates show you just what they can do.
Know Where To Look
The right person for the job may have no idea to look at the sites recruiters tend to use when trying to source new talent. By sticking to career sites, recruiters are limiting themselves to a restricted audience. Take the time to really think about who could suit a particular role and explore new avenues of communication. Social media is just one such avenue, allowing creative types in their living rooms, at exhibitions, or on a site-visit to instantly connect with recruiters and discover more about the role.
Better still, find sites with a creative following and post the details there. Put together a quirky video teaser and pop it online. Design a flyer and pin it around libraries, art schools, co-working spaces. This is minimal investment and that could bring in some truly extraordinary talent.
Ask The Right Questions
If that all sounds too much, by all means stick to the usual format of resume, shortlist and interview...but make the interview really count. Ask candidates questions that throw them, but will help establish their strengths and weaknesses and will highlight how they think ("If you had one day left on earth, how would you spend it?" or "Tell me about the worst working day you’ve ever had and then how you went back the next day"). Have a workshop day where candidates work together to brainstorm creative ideas, present to each other and give each other feedback.
By throwing the rulebook out the window, recruiters can ask candidates to come up with something new and exciting. And you know what? They will.
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This article was originally published in Laurie Ruettimann's blog in December 2022.
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