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Our Favourite Christmas Adverts and their Recruitment Lessons

Off the back of the Christmas adverts we’re now seeing all over our TV’s we’ve been thinking about the deeper meaning behind each one.  In fact, each of them relates quite well into the world of recruitment and what we should be thinking about throughout the year.

“The Gift Givers” – John Lewis – 2010

Lesson: Show your candidates that you care throughout the process

This advert was all about the gift givers, and those who really care about showing their friends and family how much they care.  In the recruitment process, we find again and again it’s those hiring managers who put in the extra effort for their candidates that win the top talent.

80% of candidates make career decisions about companies based on their gut feeling.  If interviewers are kind, communicative and responsive throughout the process candidates are much more likely to accept your offer.  So, in recruitment too it’s all about showing that you care.

“1914” – Sainsbury’s – 2014

Lesson: Collaboration over competition, it’s a great selling point when it comes to recruitment and standing out in the market

A few years ago Sainsbury’s told the story of Christmas on the front in 1914, and how the Germans and the allies took a break from killing each other to come together, find common ground and play a game of football.

While this reminds us that the problems we are facing today are so minimal in comparison to what they were facing, it also reminds us that competition is not always a good thing.  Collaboration is just as important.  What are you doing to work with your competitors, this could be through events, partnerships or charity work.  This attitude can be a really great selling point when it comes to recruitment and standing out in the market.

“English for Beginners” – Allegro – 2017

Lesson: Invest time into developing skills and interests outside of your day to day job

Allegro launched their advert in 2017 which shows an elderly gentleman in Poland learning English, he takes up classes and consistently expands his vocabulary.  It is not explained why he is learning until the end when he packs up his house, says goodbye to his dog and heads to the Airport.  He then lands in the UK and sees his son and daughter in law who have just had a baby, he kneels on the floor and introduces himself “Hello, I am your Grandfather”.  It’s a touching, under-rated advert which pulls at EVERY heart string.

When it comes to recruitment, we’re taking from this the importance of additional skills alongside your experience.  Having an additional language, coaching your kids sports team, having a hobby are all factors that hiring managers consider, they make you a more rounded person and can often help hiring managers imagine themselves working with you.   There are also soft skills demonstrated from these ‘extra-curricular activities’.  Alongside this, I guess we could also take the message it’s never too late to take up a new skill.

“The Long Wait” – John Lewis – 2011

Lesson: Good things come to those who wait and recruitment/job hunting isn’t always as quick a process as you would like

This little boy is the epitome of impatient in the lead up to Christmas, he huffs and puffs and clock watches his way to the big day (because he’s excited to give a gift to his family *Sob*).  Patience is a skill this child will have to pick up when it comes to both hiring and job hunting, quick turn arounds can happen but are unusual and you have to be respectful of the process.  So don’t worry if the process comes across slow or you don’t find the right job or candidate straight away.  Equally, if your favourite candidate is on a three month notice period don’t let this put you off, they could be transformative to your team.

“The Boy and the Piano” – John Lewis – 2018

Lesson: Do what you’re passionate about

This tells the story of Elton John, Elton has fine tuned his craft and built a career around it.  If you find a company and a career that excites you, that you’re passionate about and that you want to work hard at you will be incredibly successful.  When you’re looking for a new job it’s important to make sure the opportunities that you are applying for tick these boxes, or has the potential to do so.

“The Greatest Gift” – Sainsburys – 2016

Lesson: Taking a break over Christmas, and letting your team take a break could be positive for your performance in January

James Corden’s song about Christmas was an absolute triumph in 2016.  We love the message around the greatest gift at Christmas being his family and loved ones rather then the job he’s been giving all his time.

As much as you might feel like you have to get your head down and graft throughout the year, whether you’re job hunting, or just working as hard as you can in your job, this isn’t always the case.  Perhaps this is the time to give yourselves (and your teams) a break, strong mental health is a powerful selling tool and family and friends are actually meant to be one of the best things for your mental health (although after a few days with your in-laws you might challenge us on this!).

If job hunting is making your stressed take a break from it, tackle it in the new year and work on upskilling yourself in other ways and building relationships with recruiters.  In the same way, if your team are exhausted why not give them a little break over the next few weeks, enjoy the festive season and they’ll come back refreshed in the new year.

“The Bear and the Hare” – John Lewis – 2013

Lesson: Timing is everything!

John Lewis brought us this highly emotive animated advert in 2013.  It describes a bear who struggles to stay awake for Christmas and eventually goes into hibernation, then how his friend, the hare, wakes him up on Christmas morning with a new alarm clock so he doesn’t miss out on the celebrations.  A simple message we can take forward into the recruitment process, time keeping is everything…be early, be on time just NEVER be late.  This advice is both for the interviewer and for the candidate, leave the best possible impression.

“Mog’s Christmas Calamity” – Sainsburys – 2015

Lesson: Work together and help each other as much as you can!

When childhood hero Mog, the cat, has an absolute disaster at Christmas and almost burns down the house we see the families whole neighbourhood come together to put everything right, bring their own contributions and enable the family to host an even bigger Christmas.

Personal networks are incredibly important when it comes to job hunting, and if you know someone who is unhappy in their role or actively looking for a new opportunity make sure to do what you can to give them a hand.   This doesn’t mean you need to give them a job (don’t worry!) but even something as simple as providing some CV advice for them or passing on their details to a recruiter like ESP can really help them out.

“Excitable Edgar” – John Lewis – 2019

Lesson: Turn your weaknesses into strengths

The dragon in this year’s John Lewis advert gets overly excited whenever he thinks about Christmas and shoots flames in all the wrong places causing havoc in his village.  Edgar, with the help of his friend, harnesses this excitement and channels his flames into something positive, lighting the Christmas pudding for the village.

Turning your own weaknesses into strengths is a fine art but an important one to learn, we coach our candidates on how to answer the question ‘what is your biggest weakness’ in interviews without it being detrimental to the impression they leave on their interviewer.