Recruitment Advertising Lesson From A Barbie Doll

What can the frustrations attached to helping a child dress up a Barbie doll teach you about effective recruitment advertising? It’s all about “Comfort Zones.”

Thanks to the children in our family, there are a lot of naked Barbie dolls lying around the house. Upstairs, downstairs, bedrooms, and playroom. Most, if not all, of the Barbie dolls are in some state of au naturel.


Because it is a major pain to dress a Barbie doll, that’s why!

Putting clothes on a Barbie doll takes lots patience and practice. Trying to fit long, lanky, and extremely stiff plastic limbs through tiny circular openings for arms and legs is enough to aggravate and exasperate even the strongest, most stoic of parents, grandparents, and pre-school teachers.

Which is why our house finally gave up and decided it really wasn’t that big a deal if Barbie lounged around clothed or unclothed. Defeated? Yes, but following the path of least resistance would save us from the frustration, irritation, and occasional scraped knuckle or broken fingernail that goes with trying to make Evening Gown Barbie look her best.

Then came the rainy Saturday afternoon that rocked our world. Forced to play inside, a group of three-year-old girls decided to stage a Barbie Fashion Show in the living room. We watched in amazement as these tiny Barbie doll savants whipped through an astounding number of costume changes without difficulty. These little master dressers made it look so easy. The girls flourished where we had failed because they were operating inside their comfort zone.

“You don’t know what you don’t know.”

Accomplishing tasks that require using the knowledge and skills inside your personal comfort zone is a rewarding experience.  Fear, frustration, and uncertainty begin to creep in, however, when the tasks require using knowledge and skills outside your comfort zone.  This is the point in the process where it becomes tempting to take the easy way out and hop on the path of least resistance.

The Lesson for Employee Recruitment Advertising

Employee Recruitment is all about SELLING. Selling candidates on the idea that your company should be their Employer-of-Choice. Effective recruitment advertising reaches, engages, and creates emotional-connections. It compels the target groups of candidates most likely to accept a job offer to respond to employers in a timely manner.

“Barbie Doll” Frustrations

Most HR professionals are not trained Sales or Advertising professionals. The skill-sets required for coordinating the administrative functions of an organization along with several other responsibilities are viewed more as being company-focused than “What’s-In-It-for-Me?” candidate-selling focused.

Forced to work outside their comfort zones we have observed that, when it comes to placing employee recruitment advertising programs, HR decision-makers tend to default to the media resources THEY are comfortable with and not the media resources most favored by their targeted groups of candidates. Why? Because as HR professionals have shared with us on several occasions, this is what they have been trained to do.

HR Directors, Hiring Managers, and Recruiters do not have an abundance of time to sit around pondering the most effective media resources and strategies for their individual workplaces. With workloads straining manpower and budgets to the limits, following the path of least resistance usually ends up being the strategy of choice. Whether it works or not.

Current Comfort Zones

What makes a media resource “comfortable” to an HR professional? Some of the reasons shared with me during our Beyond Post & Pray recruitment advertising training workshops:

  • Because this is the way it has always been done around here.
  • Because this is the way the Senior VP said it was going to be done.
  • Because this is the way all our competitors are doing it.
  • Because this is the way my HR colleagues do it.
  • Because this is the way the professional HR bloggers say to do it.
  • Because this is the way our professor taught us to do it .
  • Because these are the resources I personally use on a daily basis as an HR professional.
  • Because it has to be measurable in order to be successful.
  • Because digital is the only way to go in today’s workplace.
  • Because I can’t get fired for doing it this way, whether it works or not.

What is missing is the importance of selecting the media resources most consistently in touch with the targeted skill-sets AND creating the strategies designed to reach candidates as they go about their normal daily routines.

Doing this type of candidate-focused research and analysis is a big part of what we do. After reviewing the results of a Mitton Media® SPOT-ON-ASSESSMENT® Media Usage Survey given to his staff, one of our skilled-workforce employers commented, “Not everybody looks for work on a job board.”

Are you ready to “Flourish?”

As demonstrated by those little Barbie doll dresser savants, just because a task is outside your comfort zone doesn’t mean it can’t be done and done well…by somebody else.

The secret to enjoying a less-stress/more-success approach to employee recruitment advertising is to:

  • Recognize where your Comfort Zones end.
  • Acknowledge “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
  • Allow a recruitment advertising savant to take the lead.
  • Begin to tap into candidate-focused, best-fit recruitment advertising strategies that will provide competitive separation and establish your workplace as an “Employer-of-Choice.”

Are you ready to flourish? Then please get in touch with Shana Reinhart at Mitton Media.


“We do the work. You get the credit.”®


Blending the knowledge of a Behavioral Psych degree with life-lessons learned as a professional tour caddie on the LPGA golf tour has helped mold John Mitton into one of the most innovative consultants in today’s employee recruitment industry. Recognized as the “Founder of Broadcast Classifieds,” putting job ads on Radio and Television, Mitton Media® has gained a national reputation in a variety of industries for creative, multi-media recruitment advertising programs that generate unparalleled response from target groups of quality candidates.

A Pinnacle Award winner, Mitton co-authored and teaches the highly entertaining and informative HR training workshop, “Beyond Post & Pray: Effective Recruitment Advertising Strategies for Today’s Multi-Generational Workplace.” He is the creator of the popular JOBS PIPELINE® podcast series and speaks frequently to professional, industrial, and university organizations.

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