When it comes to job advertisements, the fun is over. Hardly any company tries to find the right people with wit and irony. The Munich-based consulting company Cocodibu is an exception. A while back, she tried to attract talented people with loads of stupid work, 60s office equipment, and balls instead of foosball. Has it been possible?
Mr. Faltin, how did you come to the job advertisement for trulli PR or PR-fuzzi?
Christian Faltin: When we exchanged internally about the job description at the time, we were annoyed that all job advertisements are basically the same: all companies claim to have a flat hierarchy and all offer roughly comparable benefits. And everyone is looking for team players who can learn. In short: there are no major differences in the content of job advertisements. In fact, there is no need to write anything about the requirements, as the standard of job advertisements is widely known. Who wants socially incompatible and incompetent new people? That is why we came up with the idea to simply communicate the opposite and ridicule the stereotypes of our industry.
Job description with a difference: in 2018, the Cocodibu team was looking for a PR fuzzi or a PR trulli.
How did people react to the unusual text?
The public’s response was enormous. We received many requests from radio stations and newspapers and magazines. This was certainly mainly because we not only posted a job advertisement on social media but also posted it online – in other words, in real life.
Have you also received more submissions than usual?
Yes, there were many more applications. Among them, however, there were many people who do not belong to our target group. Most of them also revealed it: They wrote to us that they found the job advertisement incredibly fun and would love to apply to us – even if they knew they did not fit our grid: For example, there was a retiree who wrote that his previous job would meet all criteria and is therefore suitable. Unfortunately, many others lacked basic job skills, such as a good writing style or understanding of how the media works. Of course, we also received some serious requests. However, I would say little more than other job advertisements.
Were the serious applications at least more creative than usual?
Some of them took the trouble to apply in our job advertisement – à la “I don’t really feel like it, but I need money …”. Some implicitly referred to the advertisement in which we asked, inter alia, about 150,000 followers on Instagram and “spelling”. They wrote, “I only have 2,000 Instagram followers, but still can’t write.” Sometimes we felt that some people accepted the ad gratefully, just to show their creativity and at least once write a different app than usual.
Were the interviews you had with candidates as fun as a job advertisement?
Some of the conversations were really fun and there was a totally relaxed atmosphere right from the start. It usually takes a few minutes for us to reach this level. We didn’t want to have as entertaining conversations as possible. However, a job advertisement proved to be a good start of an interview and an opportunity to meet in the most relaxed atmosphere.
Have you been able to see the difference in the personality of the people you interviewed?
We had the impression that there were more than usual people who had a similar mindset to ours. That was our goal. With about three dozen letters, we didn’t have as many uses for us to statistically prove our impression.
How would you describe this way of thinking? Does humor play a special role in it?
I believe that as a company – and also as individuals – we have a good dose of humor and self-mockery. We are convinced that in our work it is helpful to observe our own actions with a bit of self-esteem. This is by no means the norm in the agency scene, and communication about humor is, of course, a matter of opinion – as is humor itself. On the one hand, as an industry, we always operate fairly freely, which is also reflected in the widespread informal culture. On the other hand, the communications industry is very simple and sales-oriented in external communications. Autokine is not one of the strengths of people in advertising and PR. We try to use it to our advantage.
As a creative communication agency, do you have an advantage in approaching job advertisements with a sense of humor?
I do not think so. There is creativity in every industry. In exactly the same way, it was also possible to search for IT specialists, interns for a glass workshop or traders. However, it is important to look at a specific industry to find out what makes it unique and what is required there.
However, there have not been too many fun job postings in recent years …
Many companies avoid self-mockery and humor. Because it takes courage. It also requires an appropriate internal culture. For example, if I have a very authoritative company culture – which, according to job postings, doesn’t exist anywhere else – then a funny job posting will have an effect because it just doesn’t fit the atmosphere in the company.
It’s also been a long time since you posted a job for yourself. Why was there no repeat?
From the very beginning, we did not consider re-posting the same job advertisement as it would seem too little ingenious for a communication agency. It was difficult to increase this format. But we shot, for example, an image video in which we completely thwart our positioning as a modern PR agency for the digital economy: a black and white silent film with a fat and silly appearance. We’re still asked about this video during job interviews. And most consider it really good.
Are you generally not posting jobs anymore?
Yes, we still post job advertisements – even if the advertisement format is largely outdated in my opinion. Especially since about 85 percent of the content is removable.
What is your application for a fun job posting?
Apart from the fact that through the advertisement we found a very good and creative friend, she certainly brought us fame. That is why we would be doing recruitment measures over and over that fit this category – humorous, self-irony. But not too often! It should also be in keeping with the spirit of the time; a fun job advertisement is no longer an option for us.
What alternative measure would you choose today?
We’d probably do a really bad Tiktok video where my partner and I would mercilessly embarrass each other and then say, “You definitely can do better. Join us and make cooler Tiktok videos!
To the interlocutor:
Faltin Christian is the founder and managing director of the Munich-based communication agency Cocodibu and employs 14 people. Prior to founding the company in 2007, the communications scientist worked as a journalist for various business and marketing media, and was also head of corporate communications at Kirch New Media.
This article first appeared in the print edition of Humor. You can order a brochure here.