HomeFinder’s Clever Recruitment Technique

Looking for technology experts to join your team? Why not fish for them in a small but densely populated pond, or in this instance a parking lot, with a lunch truck as the lure? Though referred to as a ‘trojan horse’ approach by ChicagoBusiness.com’s John Pletz in the below article, one must admit that it is a truly ingenious way of recruiting. Armed with free food and insulated lunch boxes to give away to potential candidates, property portal HomeFinder.com started recruiting from a Duck N Roll truck.

When a Duck N Roll is a Trojan horse

A small army of food trucks parks along Larrabee Street on weekday afternoons to serve lunch to the workers of 600 W. Chicago Ave. Techies from resident businesses such as Groupon Inc., Belly Inc. and other Lightbank startups start filing out before noon to line up at food trucks such as Duck N Roll, which serves Asian-inspired food and is run by former GrubHub Inc. and Classified Ventures LLC staffer Amy Le.

Today, Duck N Roll is giving away bao tacos and also serving as a sort of five-spice-flavored Trojan horse: Internet real estate listings company HomeFinder.com, a Classified Ventures spinoff, is using Duck N Roll as its base of operations to host a tech recruitment fair starting at 11:30 a.m. HomeFinder moved out of Classified Ventures’ Loop offices in December and into a new space at the Civic Opera Building.

HomeFinder CEO Doug Breaker expects to expand his 70-person staff by more than 10 percent this year, and the food-truck event is part of his plan. He tells Crain’s contributor Steve Hendershot more about the event.

Crain’s: This is a pretty unique recruiting tactic. How did it come together?

Mr. Breaker: Up until December, we still used Classified Ventures’ recruiting department, so we just did whatever they did. Now we’re moving out, and we decided to take over recruiting ourselves. We asked, “What can we really do to differentiate ourselves and show people how unique it is here?”

A tote created for the event

We had a friend who runs the Duck N Roll food truck, and we thought this would be a really cool way to get our name out there and do something different that is pretty cool for tech workers in Chicago. Everybody hates coming back to work in January after the New Year for the two darkest months of the year in Chicago, so we decided to do something fun for tech employees who may be looking for a job in Chicago: Let’s give them some free lunch and make a positive out of the dark, dreary return to work.

Are you concerned that Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky will take this as an act of war? Between Groupon and Lightbank, those two are employing a lot of the tech employees in the building where you’re setting up.

We asked (Duck N Roll’s Ms. Le) where she has a great following and gets a ton of foot traffic, and she mentioned that area. So hopefully people don’t take this as an assault on their employees, because that’s certainly not what the goal is. That being said, if there are people who are unhappy or looking for their next thing, or just people who want free lunch, they can check us out.

What will be your sales pitch to prospective employees?

We think of ourselves as a grown-up startup. A lot of us came from startups and have played that game, and HomeFinder has a really nice mix of great benefits, good pay and good work/life balance, but you still get to come in and have a big impact and do lots of fun stuff like you have in a startup environment.

Everyone on our management team and a whole bunch of employees are startup refugees. We’ve been through the craziness of working 80 hours a week for less pay and the promise of stock options, and none of us has made it rich from that. So as we build and run HomeFinder, we want it to be a really great place that has the really cool things about a startup — a really cool office space, lots of authority to do your own thing, lots of leeway to build great stuff and do really cool things at your job. But we also want that to be mixed with good pay and great benefits and things like a really solid 401(k) match. That’s the grown-up startup experience — you’re not taking this huge leap and taking on a lot of the risks of a startup, but you do get to do the fun things about a startup.

The above article by John Pletz on ChicagoBusiness.com can be found here.

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