Getting Great People

The agency’s doing well, which means we’ve got more than enough to do, and not quite enough talented people to do it. The talk around town is everyone needs more talent, and there isn’t enough to go around. As an art director one of my responsibilities is hiring, so I often ask myself how to spend less time sitting in interviews with people we don’t want to hire, or more positively, how to get really talented people knocking on our door. Bribes seem to be a good idea.

A freelancer friend recently told me that he was offered 5,000 bucks as a start bonus, and while that might help to motivate, it’s rather expensive and doesn’t say much more than “we want you really bad.” Red 5 is a new game developer started by Mark Kern, William Petras, and Taewon Yun, some of the old World of Warcraft team, and they’ve got a better idea. So far the response seems to be pretty damned positive. Red 5 reports an almost 100% response rate.

Game developers all over the place received a beautifully designed package, a series of boxes in boxes. Each box displayed a little snippet of text, with each new box revealing more and more of the story. The last box contained an iPod Shuffle, engraved with the recipient’s name and a code to access a page on the Red 5 site, and a personalised audio track explaining everything. (Photo borrowed from Senzee 5)

Red 5 Pitch


Who’s going to start a new job for an iPod Shuffle I hear you ask? A rookie maybe, but I doubt any rookies received one. No, the gift does a few different and much more interesting things:

  • The story is pure branding and gives the recipient a feeling for who Red 5 is, i.e. what it might be like to work there.
  • The package sets Red 5 apart from the competition, who at best bore most potential applicants with their pitch.
  • The personalisation — “I came across your blog on the net” — shows that Red 5 is really interested in you, and not just someone. We all like to feel special.
  • Who doesn’t like to receive packages, especially gifts? It’s Christmas and Red 5 is Santa.
  • A few people get iPods, they talk to a few people, who talk to a few people, etc. Buzz without end, which has surely led to even more applications.

It’s an employee’s market at the moment, and Red 5 obviously knows how to deal with it. It’s clear to me now that we’ve got our work cut out for us if we want to catch the attention of great people and convince them that the best decision they can make is to join our team.