9 Recruiting Lessons From Santa Claus 

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Dec 23, 2019

If you’re a recruiter celebrating the Christmas season, this may be a slow period for you. But it should also be a time to learn. So why not use any extra time to consider a few recruiting lessons from Santa Claus?

Now, you may snicker, but Santa Claus is an individual with arguably the most positive brand in the world. This is a quick read, so take a moment to review these nine tips based on the actions of the “fat man” with an almost perfect brand image.

  1. Santa knows precisely what people want, and he delivers it. Obviously, just like Santa, you can’t make your candidates happy if you don’t make a list of precisely what they want in a job. And in recruiting that means that you must be candidate-centric and ask your top candidates directly to list their job-acceptance criteria. You must know precisely what it will take to get each candidate to say yes, as well as tailor your selling approach and your final offer to candidates’ needs.
  2. Attract and retain based on the impact of the work. Santa knows how to retain his staff of elves, who have been with him continuously over the decades. Santa also knows (and all recruiters should know) that often the No. 1 attraction and retention factor for elf candidates is knowing that their job makes a difference. Recruiters need to learn to sell candidates on the impact of their work, which also means that during the interview process, great recruiters find a way to let top candidates see, feel, and experience their exciting impacts.
  3. Giving makes workers happy. Being an elf doesn’t pay very well, but you get to spend all year giving to the community. So if you are a recruiting leader during this slack time of year, why not give your recruiters some free time to volunteer and give back to their community? This helps the community, makes recruiters feel better, and builds loyalty and retention.
  4. Santa keeps his promises and meets all deadlines. Santa is well-known for “no excuses,” keeping his promises and delivering on time no matter what his workload might be. Recruiters need to realize that no matter how large their req load, candidates view the recruiting process as a mirror of the company’s culture. Therefore, a recruiter’s failure to meet every promise and candidate deadline essentially becomes a message to top candidates that they will likely encounter the same degree of false promises when they’re working on the job. Even though they are often stressed, recruiters need to learn from Santa’s helpfulness, authenticity, and smile because those are the things that help build a relationship of trust that makes people “believe.”
  5. Santa knows the value of powerful brand-building stories. There are many major holidays. But clearly, because of Santa’s carefully sculptured brand, he is the most well-known and loved holiday icon. One of the primary reasons why Santa has such a powerful brand is that his kindness and actions are continually reinforced through multiple stories and story-based songs. Stories are the most powerful selling tools. Recruiters can make sure that their organization’s brand is equally as powerful by helping their firm build a story inventory. Not only will stories build employee retention and loyalty but recruiters and hiring managers can use those stories during recruiting, while every employee can use them when seeking referrals.
  6. Seek out people with exceptional and diverse capabilities. Clearly, Santa is an advocate of teamwork as he relies on his reindeer and elves to get things done. However, he also realizes the extremely high value of those with diverse capabilities. Therefore, he recruited Rudolph and then used him and his unique capabilities on that foggy Christmas eve. Smart hiring managers also realize the value of diverse team members and innovators. So they will develop data-driven processes designed specifically to increase your firm’s chances of hiring exceptional, diverse recruiters and employees
  7. Great results should be rewarded with more than milk and cookies. Santa gets milk and cookies at almost every house as a small but important recognition for his hard work (while Scrooge made being a tightwad an infamous role during the Christmas season). However, most corporate recruiters get no performance-based bonus at year-end, even though executive-search and agency recruiters receive significant performance incentives. So perhaps the time has come for smart corporate executives to realize the value that comes from rewarding exceptional performance in recruiting.
  8. Develop and use checklists. Because Santa needs to be accurate, consistent, and fast, he makes lists and checks them twice. I have found that the simplest and quickest way that recruiters can improve their hiring is by using checklists. Checklists have such a huge impact because they not only remind recruiters of common process errors; they also force them to use objective and validated assessment criteria. Recruiters should have checklists for résumé screening, interview assessment, CRM messaging, and candidate-experience processes. Santa advises you to stop relying on your memory and intuition and to instead use checklists for every important process. 
  9. A global capability is essential. Kids around the world have now learned to expect Santa Claus to deliver no matter where they live. Meanwhile, in our well-connected business world, even medium-size organizations now need to recruit talent globally. So recruiters need to be capable of finding, assessing, and selling candidates no matter where they live. That generally requires a “one-size-fits-all-one” strategy that ensures some degree of global uniformity, while at the same time allowing for unique local recruiting needs.



December is a month dominated by the spirit of Christmas, but it’s also near the end of the year. It’s an ideal time to reflect and learn about how to be a better and jollier recruiter.

Author’s Note: If this article stimulated your thinking and provided you with actionable tips, please take a minute to follow and/or connect with Dr. Sullivan on LinkedIn and subscribe to ERE Daily.

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