Rogue Recruiting & Other Creative Guerrilla Recruiting Tactics

Rogue recruiting and guerrilla recruiting tactics

A couple of weeks ago I spent about an hour interviewing with a magazine publication.  We discussed social media recruiting and hiring practices. Our discussion drifted towards rogue recruiting and guerrilla recruiting tactics I often employed as a HR Director for big box retailers where I was responsible for multiple locations.

What are Guerrilla Recruiting Tactics?

Rogue recruiting is a guerrilla recruiting tactic that takes no prisoners.  Companies or head hunters employ creative practices that are often unorthodox to find talent in strange spaces. Sometimes the internet happens to be the most effective use of a rogue recruiter’s time like dating websites, chat rooms, and forums in addition to tradition social media.  While I am a proponent of social media and online recruiting to find top talent, the market is getting crowded.  So for many of us, it’s back to basics using old school guerrilla recruiting tactics to find talent and fill specialty roles IRL (in real life) instead of relying solely on the internet.

Top Job Headhunters Go to the Candidates

With rogue recruiting, I go where the candidates are.   That means head hunting sales executives by phone, kitchen designers in top show rooms, or engineers at local professionals meetings and associations.  I infiltrate the front lines, start casual conversations, build trust, and go in for the kill.  Sometimes rogue recruiting is easy, but often guerrilla recruiting takes real work.  Here are some ideas to get you started and on your way to finding talent in creative, unusual, and unconventional locations.

Become a Guerrilla Employment Recruiter

Go Beyond Online Recruiting and Put Yourselves in the Shoes of the Candidate.

Go where your talent is — external as well as internal to re-recruit.  Look for businesses, meeting locations, and places where your target candidate frequents.  This means calling in favors and asking the right questions.  With a little research I learned that real estate sales professionals, often frequented a local coffee shop.  A few lattes later I had new friends and a handful of leads.

Go Shopping and be a Sales Recruiter.

Working in retail it was often easy for me to go where the candidates are.  My managers and I went guerrilla doing what I called “shopping for associates.”  We’d visit the locations of our competition walking the aisles looking for employees who demonstrated great customer service and specialty skills. If the competition didn’t value their employees and were not able to  use employee retention strategies, then so be it.  Sometimes that meant bringing in detailed kitchen design plans or sharing a couple business cards with friendly employees.  Being removed from the building was a best case scenario.  With the office grapevine in full effect, it was the best possible form of advertising.

Recruitment Referrals are King (or Queen).

With rogue recruiting, it pays to be creative with your recruiting tactics.  Some of the most effective recruiting strategies involved a simple email sent to 300 professionals and the offer of an iPod.  Any hires made as a result of referrals from friends of colleagues would be entered in their chance to win an Apple iPod.  For a couple hundred dollars I often had 15 hires which was very cost effective especially for mass hire situations.

In the end, use guerrilla recruiting tactics as a valuable addition to your recruiting tools and the top job headhunters will have noting on you! Go rogue and get those people to work!

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Erik Karff says

    I agree that social media should be part of an overall strategy. Recruiting and employer branding shouldn’t end at LinkedIn. I’m curious what social media tools are your favorites. We have been having a lot of fun with Brazen Careerist and Talent Reef!

    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says

      Thanks for the comment Erik. While I am a proponent of social media, it’s important to use a number of different channels, tactics, and strategies when recruiting. Not only do you want to continue to establish new relationships with candidates, but you also want to keep your competition on their toes.




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