Posting vacancies online is not the right way to find employees, according to Claudia Leischner. Instead, the General Manager of gyro Munich advertising agency relies on social media, recommendations and personal meetings she calls “Beer & Greet”.
Haufe Online: What exactly is your “Beer & Greet” recruiting format all about?
Claudia Leischner: The name really describes what’s on offer that evening: beer and the chance to get to know each other. We introduced this format about two years ago. It developed out of the emergency situation we’ve found ourselves in: the job market in Munich is extremely tight. We are always hearing from other agencies in our network about the tough competition for talent in places like Düsseldorf, Hamburg and Wiesbaden. But in Munich the situation is significantly more challenging – just like the housing market. The unemployment rate in Bavaria is currently at 3%. That pretty much says it all. Furthermore, it isn’t easy for us to attract applicants from other major cities to Munich.
Haufe Online: What conclusions did you draw from this?
Leischner: We thought about what to do if classical job ads and headhunter commissions didn’t bring in enough candidates. Our solution is based on social media, personal contacts and direct approaches. Candidates we find this way receive an invitation to a “Beer & Greet”. We need 4 to 6 weeks to prepare. We set a date within the team and give them the information about the positions we want to fill. The entire team is then charged with combing through their networks. Who knows people who are looking to change jobs? Who knows someone he believes would be a good fit with us? The candidates we find this way are approached on a personal level and invited to the evening event. Even when candidates have questions before the event, these are answered personally by the employees who made the contact.
gyro Munich advertising agency uses social media to find applicants and invites them to a #Beer&Greet.
Haufe Online: What happens at these events?
Leischner: They begin at 5 or 6 p.m. There are free drinks and catering, as well as a relaxed atmosphere for conversation. No one from our team receives instructions on how they should behave. Rather, everyone is focussed on getting to know the candidates and introducing the agency. There is, however, a secret. None of the candidates knows beforehand that we are inviting more candidates. It can happen that we might have two, three or four applicants for one position. In the beginning, that made me a little queasy, but it has never been perceived negatively by the people we’ve invited. What usually happens is that the candidates connect on social networks and open an exchange with each other. Sometimes spontaneous parties get started on these evenings. The table tennis board is set up or someone suggests a round of beer pong – whatever happens naturally. Of course, the candidates also come to talk to me. In the past two years there was only one candidate who didn’t want to talk to me.
Haufe Online: How many participants come to the events and what do the agency employees say about it?
Leischner: If we have three positions to fill, we make sure we invite between six and nine new candidates. On the agency side, the entire team participates – except for anyone who’s sick or on vacation. That’s about 35 people. The employees are curious about who’s coming to the event and they can actively contribute to how the teams are staffed in the future. Our people always look forward to the events because they know it means someone is coming in soon to share the workload. That’s why I can activate them so quickly to take part in an event. We don’t have them that frequently, either. There might be two or three “Beer & Greet” evenings per year. It always depends on business development and the employee demand that goes with it.
Haufe Online: What kind of feedback do you get from the participants?
Leischner: Most say that they really appreciate how unconventional the events are. In a conventional recruiting process, they get an appointment for an interview, they arrive at the agency and have to wait. Then they’re shown to a meeting room where, depending on the size of the agency, they may speak to management, human resources and maybe someone from their department. The only impression they get of the agency is what they see on the way to the meeting room. That often leads to uncertainty about the decision. Do I fit with this agency? Are the people there nice? Is the equipment good? This uncertainty is eliminated with our recruiting format.
“With our #Recruitingformat #Beer&Greet we eliminate many uncertainties for our candidates”, C. Leischner from gyro.
Haufe Online: What happens after a “Beer & Greet”?
Leischner: I ask the candidates to contact me over the next few days and share their impressions. If I get a signal that they are interested then I arrange an interview. It works very well. After a “Beer & Greet” evening we usually have an acceptance rate of 90 to 95 per cent. We reject 30 to 40 per cent of the participants because they don’t match our profile or they have too little experience. For the last event in July we announced four positions, invited nine candidates and received acceptances from all participants. We hired four candidates.
Haufe Online: How do the candidates react who don’t get accepted?
Leischner: We maintain good relationships with the people we don’t hire. It often happens that they come back to us some time after the event and say, “Last year I wasn’t experienced enough, is there an opportunity now?” We recently hired a consultant who didn’t have enough experience two years ago and contacted me again this summer. He explained what he had done in the past two years and addressed the points that were criticised last time. We reached an agreement that he still didn’t fit 100% with us, but that we wanted to develop together. He starts with us in December.
Haufe Online: How do you keep contact with the candidates you don’t hire after a “Beer & Greet”?
Leischner: With further invitations, for example. We regularly hold a “Band Evening” where we invite newcomers in the Munich music scene to give a concert in the agency. We invite clients, partners, future employees and former candidates who found our “Beer & Greet” evenings strange or who made a negative impression on us. This is because they were recommended from personal networks.
Haufe Online: With traditional employee recommendation programmes, anyone who recommends a new employee gets a bonus. Is that also the case with you?
Leischner: We have not introduced that yet because our employees are intrinsically very motivated to suggest candidates. They are aware of what’s good for the agency and they think entrepreneurially, which means there has never been a request for a bonus. They are also proud when they contribute to finding a new employee that is a good fit with the agency. If the request for a bonus did come from the team, however, I would answer it with a clear “yes”.
Haufe Online: The way you recruit principally takes place on a personal level. That is really only possible in small companies with flat hierarchies. How well could your recruiting strategy work in larger, traditional companies?
Leischner: It can also work well in mid-sized companies. It might be feasible in large companies at the department level. I see it as challenging, but I wouldn’t exclude it. The important thing is the right conditions. I have an anecdote about this. Last December, just before Christmas, there was a “Beer & Greet” that I couldn’t attend. I was travelling, but we didn’t want to move the date just because of me. When I returned, I telephoned the candidates. On 27 December I had an interview with one participant who said he was already convinced by the agency, the scope of duties, the team and the equipment. He wanted to get to know me, and if he could imagine working for me, he would quit his job at the end of December. We talked for an hour and afterwards he signed the contract. That is only possible because we always have the contracts completed in advance so the decision can be as quick possible.
The interview was conducted by Daniela Furkel, Redaktion Personalmagazin.
Claudia Leischner is the General Manager of Werbeagentur gyro Munich (Dentsu Aegis Network).