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Recruiting Lessons from THE BATKID

Written by Phil Roebuck | August 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

batkidMuch of the world watched, Tweeted and Retweeted as a 5 year-old boy’s dream of becoming a superhero came true. The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted young Miles Scott, whose leukemia is currently in remission, his wish with the help of over 11,000 local volunteers. For 8 hours, San Francisco became Gotham City and Miles became“Batkid.”

To imagine that you’ve stumbled upon this blog and haven’t heard the Batkid story yet is to assume that you live in a unique cultural vacuum and only type phrases like “recruitment blogs” or “hunks of executive search calendar 2014” into Google. That, or like me you were at a wedding in Tampa all weekend and you haven’t had a moment to catch up on your Twitter feed.

In any case, suffice to say that the Batkid is one spectacular story about a city-wide effort to soothe, inspire, and delight a sick child, and I wish you the best of luck making it through any of the recaps of the day’s events without tearing up. That kid is just too cute!

But as I dig into my Monday, there are several lessons from the triumph of Batkid that I can apply to my own business of helping hiring managers attract great talent. Here are a few:

Batkid was a great example of social recruiting.

Look, Batkid wouldn’t have happened in any other era. It’s so “2013.” Make-A-Wish coordinator for the event, Patricia Wilson, credited “the spirit of tech-savvy San Francisco, whose residents took to the idea immediately and began spreading word through social media,” according to the S.F. Chronicle.

Volunteers were recruited and mobilized using nearly every social media platform, including LinkedIn (the online Chroniclearticle alone had 116 LinkedIn shares as of this writing).

The original press release for Batkid’s big day was posted to the Make-A-Wish website on October 15th, one month before the actual event. Do you think you could really recruit a new hire in less than a month without social media? How about 11,000?

Which brings me to my next take-away.

Batkid was a great example of selling the “why” over the “what”

We mentioned in a previous blog that selling the “why” over the “what” to potential candidates- that is, describing your company’s purpose as opposed to simply communicating the job function you’re looking to fill or your company’s product – is so important.

Well, from the get go, Batkid was all about the “why.” How could it not be? Why else would thousands of people show up to City Hall with homemade signs? Why else would someone donate his Lamborghini to be the Batmobile? For 5 minutes of fame? No, they all wanted to be a part of this kid’s wish because they fully understood the “Why” of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

It’s a great reminder that every company with the desire to attract, whether it be good press, brand interest, or great talent, can do so by effectively communicating a purpose – long before discussing the product. The Make-A-Wish Foundation leads every story with the promise that a sick child’s wish is going to be granted, and that is far more compelling than any of the “what” – or actual details of any of the wishes- is revealed.

At the end of the day, San Francisco’s Batkid had a lot to teach us about humanity, but it also says a lot about our networked culture banding together for the greater good. And technology, speed, mobilization – these are all buzzwords in the ever evolving world of recruitment.

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