Friday, February 8, 2013

This is NOT Your Average Application Process!

By Mary Salvino, Career Coach

It is not a secret that companies will receive hundreds of applications from hopeful candidates for every advertised opportunity.    In an effort to cull the number of applicants, some companies have opted to use Applicant Tracking Software [ATS] that may or may not allow the job seeker to feature his or her skill set in an optimal manner.  Some job seekers have worked around this hurdle by ferreting out and using the contact information of the person in charge of hiring for the position and sending their applications directly to that individual.

As the ATS systems evolve, so do the methods for culling the number of applicants efficiently.   Some companies choose to advertise on niche job boards only after they have advertised the opportunity of the company’s website and still others will create ‘prohibitive’ job descriptions that give job applicants the opportunity to self-eliminate from the competition. 

One of the more creative methods used to cull applicants has been used by a music school in Frankfurt, Germany.   This music school, the University of Hannover Academy of Music, is an elite school for musicians.  Hannover sought to recruit people who had a very specific skill, i.e. those with ‘perfect pitch.’ If you are born with perfect pitch, it means you can identify a specific musical note without any other external assistance or context.  Some studies suggest that less than 3% of the population have perfect pitch, i.e. only one in 10,000.  [As a comparison, 98% have absolute colour recognition.]

The University of Hannover’s Music Department designed an application process that included placing audio advertisements on the radio. Given that people with ‘perfect pitch’ can identify every note on the musical scale, the Hannover School of music communicated to them in a way only they would understand.  In addition to the written copy, the advertising also included musical notes to spell out the school’s e-mail address.  This ingenious advertising campaign did two things:

One: It gave the school heightened awareness and spoke to the creativity of the school.
Two: This commercial became the first entrance exam.

The advertising campaign was a huge success for the university.  Given that only those with perfect pitch would pass the test by emailing the school, the university was successful in their efforts to woo the most talented crop of new students into their program.

Granted that the University was looking to recruit students for their program, there is certainly no reason why this same sort of creativity cannot be used to attract job candidates with a very specific skill set.

Have you been involved in a ‘creative’ job interview process?  What was the criteria?

Copyright © 2013, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved. Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2013, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of the author, Mary Salvino. “Career Matters” is a blog authored by Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant for SMART Career that is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. This blog is also dedicated to those who stand a little taller each time they picked themselves up after failing and those who gained the wisdom and humility from those experiences to help others do the same. For any questions or comments that are better addressed privately, please feel free to e-mail Mary directly at