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‘Stop Kony’…..and start storytelling

Posted by: Marc

Blog Images (Marc)

By Marc Denholm Co-Founder of The Talent Hive

On March 5th 2012 a 28 minute film made by an American Charity, Invisible Children, was released and within three days it had been watched on You Tube more than 20 million times. The film was about the plight of children in Uganda at the hands of a warlord by the name of Joseph Kony. It was very well produced, the story was gripping and emotionally powerful and included a clear call to action at the end.

The producers knew who their target audience was (teens and young adults) and they pitched it perfectly to that demographic. The video became an almost instant viral success, dominating Twitter worldwide and having one of the fastest ever take-offs on You Tube. For most of us, the last we heard about the campaign was ten days after the video had gone viral, when Invisible Children’s founder, Jason Russell, went on a naked, expletive-laden rampage on the streets of San Diego.

Ok, so it didn’t end so well for Jason and as far as I’m aware Kony is still at large but this was a classic example of the power of story and how a well-designed social media campaign can have a significant and immediate impact on its audience. Good stories still surprise us. They have compelling characters, they make us pause and think and with a well told story it is possible to move hearts and minds. Purpose driven passion can be very compelling as evidenced in the Stop Kony campaign. Just don’t take your clothes off and do the naked funky chicken walk once the hard work is complete!

One of the most challenging aspects of a recruiter or hiring manager’s role today is grabbing the attention of passive candidates. You know, those candidates that are happily employed with companies that they enjoy working for on a pretty good salary with reasonable career prospects ahead of them. Those candidates that are never on job boards looking at job ad’s and rarely respond to the multiple connection requests they receive through LinkedIn on a daily basis.

It can be hard to connect effectively with those candidates but these are you’re A-grade targets and it’s worth investing some time to connect effectively with them. Storytelling is a great way to connect with potential candidates in a powerful and meaningful way. Take some time to really look at your business and quantify what it is that makes your company a special place for your employees. What does the organization stand for? How would you describe the culture? How would you describe the engagement within the business?

As with the Kony film, if you know who your target audience is it’s much easier to create your pitch and make your story resonate with your ideal candidate. Once you’ve identified who your target candidate is and what makes your company a great place to be, you can then create your strategy. Enlisting some of your key people to execute your strategy is crucial. It will increase engagement internally but also add significant authenticity to your message which will resonate with candidates looking at career opportunities within your business.

Businesses that have mastered the art of recruiting via storytelling use it to showcase their culture and values in a way that makes potential candidates interested in learning more about them. Stories help us persuade and in a contestable candidate market the art of persuasion is an increasingly important skill.


Marc is a Director of The Talent Hive and leads our IT recruitment practice. Originally from the UK, Marc has been living in Christchurch, New Zealand for ten years and working in the recruitment sector for just as long. Marc has worked as an in-house recruiter and within multinational recruitment consultancies and independent SME recruitment businesses.

At The Talent Hive we specialise in connecting IT & Engineering professionals with the right career opportunities. We encourage collaboration, socialising your success and sharing industry insight and expertise. Start the journey, connect with The Talent Hive today.

Categorised as: Talent Search & Management