• 02.01.13

When Recruiting The Best Candidate Means Taking A Chainsaw To An Owl

How far will you go to find the right people for your startup? Probably not as far as Shopify, which took “draw the owl” to a serious extreme for a YouTube job posting.

When Recruiting The Best Candidate Means Taking A Chainsaw To An Owl

On Friday, while your old-school HR department was putting up job postings on and sorting through the 6,237 yawn-inducing resumes that flooded in, Shopify launched this video on YouTube:


Internet meme as job posting: talk about creative recruiting. Fast Company asked Doug Tetzner, Shopify’s talent scout, how he managed to work a live owl and a chainsaw into the online store-builder’s recruiting efforts. Turns out, it’s more proof of the good things that happen to the creative brain on exercise.

“I just randomly came up with the concept while on the treadmill one morning. I thought…what if I take the owl concept just WAY too far? With all these ridiculous scenarios. I ran it by the team and they thought it was funny, so we set off creating it. The hardest part, of course, was finding the live owl, but I think the final product was worth it,” Tetzner said.

The video, which Shopify shot and edited over the course of a couple weeks, was its first deliberate attempt at HR with humor. But in general, Tetzner says, its in-house videos are effective in attracting talented candidates who aren’t necessarily looking for new jobs.

“Something about our culture or how we work will really resonate with them, and they’ll apply, whereas traditional job postings are very much targeted to job-seekers,” he says.

So yes, the video was about bringing company culture front and center. But it was also a signal about the expectations of what it means to work at Shopify–a serious lack of micromanagement and even detailed direction.

“We won’t tell you what to do. We hire people who love what they do, so they want to do it, and they do it well.” Tetzner said. “We hire people who can be resourceful and autonomous and make things happen. I just think the owl metaphor represents this so well.”


Has your company done any creative recruiting lately? Tell us about it in the comments or on Twitter.

About the author

Dave Kneebone is the latest addition to Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim's comedy powerhouse. He helps run their production company, Abso Lutely, and has also worked on Comedy Bang!