Memes and recruiting: Irony as a tool for attracting potential candidates

Memes and recruiting: Irony as a tool for attracting potential candidates

“When it comes to work, I recommend seriousness!” Of course, it is true that a professional approach is required in work contexts, but sometimes in some aspects, a certain dose of irony can work in our favour. Even in recruiting.

A case in point might be social recruiting in the broader context of recruitment marketing, that is, the use of typical marketing techniques with the goal of attracting and engaging potential candidates.


The challenge of (candidates’) attention

As Prof. Luciano Floridi has often pointed out, today we live in the age of onlife, in a dimension where real and virtual become one, we are always with our smartphones at our fingertips and we make use of them for much of the day. We are constantly receiving messages and notifications that in the long run have impacted our attention level, as we tend to be easily distracted. It is as if we have developed a kind of banner blindness that prevents us from reading any kind of message composed only of text characters.

And this is even more true within social networks, where candidates are constantly bombarded with stimuli and attracting their attention becomes a challenge.

The worst social recruiting post

“How to share a job offer on LinkedIn?” – a recruiter asks himself every day.

Unfortunately, oftentimes of choose the most mundane and least creative solution, leaning toward ineffective post texts such as “I’m hiring,” “Our companies are looking for you,” “We’re growing,” and the like.

Why don’t these types of posts work? For 2 main reasons:

  1. They feel like they have been seen before, and therefore do not stop the endless scrolling common in social media
  2. They do not answer the question, “why should I care?”

Memes in recruiting

Recruiters must therefore explore new possibilities that can know how to engage the generations of tomorrow who do not necessarily use the same social platforms or communication channels we have been accustomed to. As a result, the communication style must also be re-calibrated.

A concrete example to address the issue outlined above would be the use of memes as part of a social recruiting strategy.

The satirical background of this type of communication predominantly consisting of captions could capture more attention than a standard content that we may have invested much more time in.

Why do memes work?

First of all, because they are real. They emphasize elements of reality in an ironic way, but always tying themselves to reality. As a result, those who see them, after smiling, think to themselves, “It’s true!”

Due to the humorous vein, it is also useful for downplaying those aspects that might actually make us angry because they are typical of a certain circumstance. Thus, they allow for conveying messages otherwise communicable with extreme difficulty.

Examples of memes in recruiting

Let’s look at some of them.

When a candidate emails you three days after accepting the offer

What strikes us: this meme tells about the experience of the Search and Selection consultant. In a dynamic job market like ours, a candidate who calls you 3 days after accepting the position can mean one thing: he may have accepted another one. And that to the recruiter could mean work done for nothing and client fees to return. Enough to break a cold sweat.

When candidates don’t respond

What strikes us: it happens more and more often that a candidate ghosts a recruiter. Those in sales know that those who solicit then bring the result home, and this is also true for a recruiter. This meme is a light-hearted way to say “respond,” without making the candidate feel pressured.

Should I follow the data or my gut?

What strikes us: this is a question many data analysts will have asked themselves, which is precisely why the meme works. It emphasizes an experience that the candidate has actually had, and because of that, it gets his or her attention.

Until the end

What strikes us: persistence is one of the key characteristics of a successful recruiter. And when selection processes are long and difficult, even the best candidates can lose motivation. And this is where the recruiter comes in, who must constantly support the candidate and the client company to keep the process going expeditiously-even when there are 6 selection interviews!


Irony then becomes the tool to turn a point of possible weakness into strength, capable of engaging.

In the New World of Work that runs at a rapid speed, a recruiter should approach it with the spirit of the Pioneer, driven by the courage and curiosity to venture out to discover the new. It is necessary then, to always have a wide-ranging vision to try to anticipate change and thus experience it as a protagonist, adopting professional strategies that are also “out of the ordinary” as that of the meme is.

The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence itself, but it is facing it with the logic of the past – Peter Drucker

Valerio Lalli

Community Manager in ELIS. Mi definisco un “brand enthusiast”, da sempre interessato alle attività di Employer Branding e sviluppo della cultura organizzativa all’interno delle aziende. 
Spirito di squadra e senso di appartenenza ritengo essere gli elementi fondamentali per poter dire davvero di essere parte di un’organizzazione.

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