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Uber-Aggressive Recruitment Techniques

By August 28, 20142 Comments

I’ve been seeing a bit of stuff about Uber on the news wires this week. Uber are the ride sharing business that has disrupted (a word significantly overused these days, but highly appropriate in their case) the taxi industry across many cities globally.

They came to Auckland not long ago, I’ve used it, it’s great most of the time. And today they got some free PR from Vaughn Davis on Marcus Lush’s radio show who announced their opening in Wellington, something sure to please our own industry commentator Paul Jacobs who was inspired by their disruptive tendencies in this recent post.

But making far more noise this week has been the rolling out of Uber’s new driver recruitment campaign, labelled on their own blog as SLOG (Supplying Long-term Operations Growth). As a company quite at home with disrupting an industry, and battle hardened by the predictable turf war they have to engage in every time they take on a new city with it’s regulated local taxi cartels, they have taken an almost blasé stance to the disruptive nature of their recruitment techniques.

Suffering from a talent shortage of good drivers, they have decided to poach ready made ones from their US competitor Lyft, by having their own recruiters pose as riders (taxi customers), jumping in a Lyft car and, if impressed by the driver, persuading them to switch allegiances over to Uber.

It’s caused a bit of furore online, which is exactly what they were probably looking to achieve. But you know what? I like it.

More and more we see the hackneyed expression “War for Talent” being bandied around by recruitment agencies seeking to justify their point of difference or in house recruiters making excuses for their latest crappy hire to their hiring manager. But in reality, at least here in NZ, we are seeing the response to this “War” as an increase in job postings online, rather than anything more direct, more innovative, or more clever.

It’s like World War One where the main tactic seemed to be to throw more and more bodies into the fray, over the top of the trenches, and into the void that most of our online job postings disappear to. That’s not a tactic. That’s a lack of imagination, and hardly the kind of reaction to “War” that’s going to gain many victories.

It’s got me wondering if there’s many examples of this kind of recruitment approach in our own market here in NZ? Or are we just a bit too polite to countenance this sort of aggression in our industry here?

I remember recruiting in Australia where recruiters in our Sydney office would occasionally ring the competition in response to their job ads, pretending to be a candidate in an attempt to find out what client they were recruiting for. If there really is a War for Talent in our midst then what will you do about it? How far would you go?

If you were looking to increase head count of your recruitment team, would you send in your own recruiters for spurious interviews, posing as candidates and actually faking an interview with a targeted recruiter to see if they’re any good, then persuading them to join you firm instead?

Now there’s a thought…

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • Crispin says:

    I totally agree john, also creates great PR, I managed a campaign for Vodafone UK where we parked an ad van outside the Orange offices when we heard they were merging with T Mobile, got loads of PR in the industry press. We were often parking vans outside competitors offices, sponsoring coffee cups in nearby cafe’s, really worked!

  • Fantastic!! I feel excited and optimistic just scanning through all the links and getting a glimpse of how far UBER reaches. It is bold, they don’t make excuses for what they do, they are effective, clearly contributing to economy bringing unemployment down… Up to speed with a modern work life / giving employees the power to really excel if they wanted to and seeing the benefits. Clearly doing it right if you look at how many roles they are advertising – building a strong professional machine behind it all… love it!