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Lessons We Can Learn about Recruitment from Some of Our Favorite Movies and Shows


Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, famously said, “Hiring the right people takes time, the right questions, and a healthy dose of curiosity.”

With how technology and the pandemic have changed work dynamics, the old strategic functions of talent acquisition have also changed. While we often look for inspiration from great leaders in the real world, we decided to also take a look at recruiting strategies from characters in a few of our favorite movies and TV shows for some lessons we can learn. While your organization may not be a fictional organization like S.H.I.E.L.D., or have the same problems, like dealing with aliens or the multiverse, here are some ways “top recruiters” in these movies and shows behaved and things we can learn from them.

The Avengers

When watching any of The Avengers movies or other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and looking for recruiting inspiration, we can look no further than Nick Fury. Nick Fury is a spy, the former director of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the creator of the Avengers. Despite his closed-door management approach, Fury is a formidable recruiter and motivator.

Let's take a look at Fury's toolkit to see what we can learn.

Recruit Actively:

Fury didn't wait for Iron Man to come knocking on his door; instead, he went out of his way to find him at the end of Iron Man as soon as Tony Stark had established himself as a prominent figure. Fury recognized potential talent, and while he didn't instantly "employ" Stark, he did add him to his talent pipeline as a consultant in Iron Man 2. Later on in The Avengers, Fury knew who to call when a new employee – particularly, a new member on a response team to combat an alien invasion – was needed.

Focus on the Individual:

Hiring clones of yourself or clones of your top performer(s) may appear to be a good idea, but you'll only exacerbate the competency gap. When it came to recruiting team members for S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers, Nick Fury didn't just try to find those that would imitate other members, but instead looked for recruits who would complement the team.

For example, Steve Rogers' soldier-like leadership style, sense of duty, and strong ethical values somewhat contrasts with Tony Stark’s pragmatism and occasional willingness to compromise some morals to achieve results, and Clint Barton may not be the one issuing instructions, but his unique perspective allows him to solve problems creatively.

Squid Game

A talent acquisition specialist in Squid Game is tasked with finding certain applicants to play the game. When we look at this show from a real-world perspective, it's actually not that different from how modern businesses conduct recruiting, except that you are hiring candidates for an actual organization and not a competition.

Even if you don't use overly intricate games and colorful playgrounds to evaluate winning candidates, you might have noticed a talent acquisition strategy in Squid Game that you can actually use.

Recruiting Should Not Be a One-Person Job

In order to recruit 456 players, there needed to be multiple individuals united for the same cause, making sure that their future recruits would be apt to play the game. Even though Squid Game is a sci-fi show, we can take the lesson that in order to successfully recruit top talent, it has to be a team effort.

Recruiters and HR managers should approach departments that are hiring from the beginning and include them in the recruitment process. They should collaborate to develop processes and pool their knowledge. They ought to form a group. They will both profit as a result, and recruitment will be more successful!

The Office

Even though The Office has plenty of ridiculous scenarios, there are definitely a few things we can learn about recruiting practices and what not to do throughout the show, like in season 9, episode 13: “Junior Salesman.”

Give Internal Candidates a Fair Chance:

In this episode, Dwight is entrusted with filling an available position for a junior salesperson to replace his long-time coworker, Jim. Despite the fact that one of the current employees, Clark, indicates interest in the position and signals that he wants to take it, Dwight gets many of his acquaintances (and even a family member) to come in for interviews.

To make matters worse, Dwight eventually finds that none of the external candidates are a good match for the job. Instead of telling them personally, Dwight tells someone else to deliver the bad news to the candidates.

What we can learn from this scene is that not only should recruiting managers give internal candidates more than just a glance but they should also engage with HR professionals to ensure that their job descriptions are appropriately aligned and that they follow best practices. This ensures that the top applicants are brought in for roles that best fit their knowledge and experience, both internally and externally.

Besides the afore mentioned tips, hiring managers should be flexible with their calendars, leave your calendar open so that interviews can be easily scheduled. Currently there are multiple calendar tools in the market that can aid you with easy scheduling. Additionally, have a leaders panel to help you with hiring, this will help the process to be much faster and efficient as the cycle between interview and offer is shortened.

Keep reading more about recruitment hiring by reading 8 Common Hiring Mistakes in Health Care and How to Avoid Them or click to learn more about Viventium’s HR and full HCM suite.

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