How Recruiting Quality Employees is Similar to Playing “Pokémon Go!”

Sep 21,2016
How do you Pikachu?

“Gotta Catch ‘Em All!” Doesn’t that feel like the truth? Recruiting a top notch employee is similar to that of playing the latest viral sensation.

Recently while on vacation in Northern Michigan, I was happily lounging in the hammock outside our cabin when my teenage sons approached.  They wanted to go Pokémon hunting.  And they wanted me to go with them.  My knowledge of the game up to this point:  None.

As we walked, I asked tons of questions and my boys gladly explained why we were going to a particular PokéStop, what exactly they were looking for and the names of the ones they caught.

Because I have spent my entire career in staffing and recruiting, this search for Pokémon (especially the one that looks like a squirrel – turns out, it was actually a rat named Rattata) had me thinking how I search for talent.  Where are my PokéStops? What am I looking for and why?  Of course, I use many of the same tools as other recruiters:  job boards, ATS systems, aggregators, LinkedIn, referrals.

But how do I find that “Purple Squirrel,” as we say in recruiting? Or, if we’re truly using Pokémon terminology: what I would assume looks the most like Rattata but is equivalent to hunting for Mewtwo?  You know, the Sr. Business Analyst with 15 years’ experience, a Master’s Degree and only need to have worked in Healthcare with Agile.  And be Bi-lingual.  And is willing to take $20 less per hour than market rate, because it is a really cool project….

In Pokémon Go, there are three Pokémon which are rare, part of the original 151 from the show, and ultimate finds: Legendary birds, Mew and Mewtwo. Legendary birds is a collective term used to refer to the trio Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres who each represent a certain team. It is said that Mewtow is the genetically altered, more enhanced clone of Mew, who could not be legitimately obtained in the original games. It is believed that Mewtwo, who is stronger than Mew but his successor, is the ultimate find. As players go through the game, one of their goals is to capture one of these three Pokémon. I relate to the game like this: I need Mewtwo. I need a recruit that, with enough preparation and determination, is legally obtainable and will be the most successful once employed.

What do I have to do? I get out and call everyone, both people I know and don’t know.  I talk to as many people as I can while I pipeline and pocket those candidates I may be able to help in the future.  And I keep hunting.

So, we walked around Mackinac Island in search for Jigglypuff for over two hours.  And when it started to rain, I wanted to go back to the cabin.  But the boys were steadfast and not ready to give up—true to that of a recruiter. Personally, I realized a few things on the adventure with my boys playing their new favorite virtual game that I can relate to daily as a recruiter:

  1. To catch the “Pokémon,” you have to be in the right place at the right time.
  2. Like the recruiting industry, you have to have something great (lures) to engage people and build your network to work for you.
  3. You have to know how to bring in the right “Pokémon” based on what you have to offer. It takes more than just throwing a Pokéball.
  4. Though it may feel like I need to “Catch Them All,” I need to catch the right one that will make the biggest impact.

Catching “Pokémon”, just like seeking the “Purple Squirrel,” takes energy, resources, time, effort and connection. Literally, going that extra mile could take you further in the “game” than you ever expected.

By Anna Bielawski | Sep 21,2016