A Very Particular Kind of unicorn

Say you’re looking to hire someone with a particular set of skills.

Your company has an open position and you want to attract applicants who are trustworthy and brimming with work ethic. Someone who not only meets the qualifications of the job but supplies strength to the team and matches up with your company culture.

You craft the job announcement with glee, visions of the perfect unicorn candidate prancing before your eyes. The virtual “help wanted” signs go up on the top job sites, and the resumes start trickling in.

But as you dig into the stack, your eagerness turns to gloom.

There’s not a single unicorn with work ethic among the lot.

One candidate submitted a collage consisting of pictures of her face instead of a resume. Another boasted of his ability to “make people happy with his sick beats,” while acknowledging he had none of the skills you need. One notable cover letter made it apparent the job would simply be a side project as the applicant pursued their dream of full-time competitive ferret racing.


They say good help is hard to find. But even though that was probably first muttered by a caveman looking for a hand starting a fire, it doesn’t have to be that way.

The workplaces that consistently attract the best candidates have a common strategy: they tell people who they are, and they do it in a way that makes them look like a cool, meaningful place to work.

Prospective employees, especially younger generations, want to be able to identify clearly with the meaning in their work. And everyone wants to be cool.

How to be cool. And meaningful

First, buy a leather jacket. But it has to be meaningful, so buy a vegan pleather jacket.


Start by thinking differently about your company’s branding, because it’s not only for your customers.

Good branding is the key to being meaningful to future and current employees. Your brand tells potential employees what to expect from their work experience with you. It helps solidify their perceptions of you by sharing your story and your working environment.

But how to be cool ? We like to say that excellence attracts excellence. That means using professional, adaptable visuals and powerful, concise words that provide a punch and speak straight to the type of people you want to attract.

When you establish those intangibles that provide meaning and a coolness factor with clarity and consistency over the long-term, your company’s reputation and visibility will improve. The unicorns with work ethic will be curious. They’ll notice that their own values match up with yours. They’ll want to join in. They will prance your direction.

But how can you tell a unicorn with work ethic from others in the stack? We want to share a fantastic free resource that we use ourselves.

The three overarching characteristics you want to look for in a possible employee is someone who is hungry, humble, and people-smart. These characteristics are outlined in the book “The Ideal Team Player,” by Patrick Lencioni.

The book is worth reading for any hiring manager, but there’s a set of free interview questions that give you the specifics of what to ask and what to look for during the hiring process to accurately suss out the unicorns who’ve applied. Check them out.

Don’t watch this video

A disclaimer. If you don’t want to disrupt your entire life’s plan to take up a new vocation laying sewer pipe, you’re going to want to skip this video.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

One of the biggest challenges facing Bettis Asphalt was recruiting new construction crew. Though the leadership of the company truly saw themselves as secondary to their boots on the ground and their love for their people was genuine, none of that was reflected in their branding.

But we got to channel that authentic energy into the work we did for them. Since rebranding, they’ve seen a marked increase in their visibility and ability to recruit qualified workforce in an industry where attracting talent is a tremendous challenge. All it took was bringing out the cool factor and emphasizing the values of the organization.

One microsite. Big difference.

One recruiting campaign that got incredible results was commissioned by the City of Larned in partnership with Pawnee County, Kansas. Community leadership wanted to bring new attention to the wonderful quality of life offered in the area and the abundance of jobs available at Larned State Hospital.

The community rebranding campaign included new visuals and logo, key messaging, a website and video. Additionally, we created a microsite focused solely on recruiting for positions at the state hospital, which is the lifeblood of the community.

The microsite invites applications by making an appeal at an emotional level. The site positions the curious job seeker as a hero and someone who can make a difference.

That strategy is a key takeaway for anyone who writes position announcements because job postings are valuable real estate for branding. Bring out the meaning in the work and entice new applicants by showing them how they’ll wake up every day to do a valued, important job in an influential environment.

A single Facebook post featuring this video brought over 1,000 new visits to the microsite, which resulted in 112 new job inquiries and applications over three months. For a workplace with 150 openings that had never attracted much interest before, that was a game changer.

We’re grateful we got to help both Bettis and the Larned Community bring out the meaning and the cool factor in what they do. To us, that’s what it means to Make Gold.

If you want some help making your own recruiting gold, we’d love to help. Hit us up!

Moving day video

Don’t watch this video if you don’t want to move anytime soon.

Kidding.  Watch this 45 second window of pure joy for a look at our new building!

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