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How to Attract Candidates Using Emotional Triggers

Say you’re riding the bus and a stranger sits next to you. She is a 60-year-old lady of average height with dark brown hair. Will you notice her? I mean will you really pay attention to her? Will you stop what you are doing and spend time looking at her features, her smile, her eyeshadow?

How about if it’s a 55-year-old man with blonde hair and two inches taller than you? Will you stop and observe him?
Chances are you’ll continue your own business, listening to Spotify and reading your book.

How about if he’s 2m tall with long purple hair and whistling a tune? This might make you turn your head and spend some time on him.

This is because he is awkward, weird, unique maybe even crazy or scary… In any case, he is different, he stands out from the crowd.

In today’s world, being different should be our starting point. Of course we have to plan, of course, we have to execute and of course, we have to measure and improve. Nothing stands however without first figuring out how to stand out.



Choice and selection have become so abundant that most of us run on autopilot most of the day. We have to narrow our focus and ignore the world around us only to cope with our daily routines. If not for our ability to filter surrounding stimuli we would all be in a state of constant distraction. People can only remember so much. They can keep only so many products, brands, ideas and so on in mind at one time. People cope with complexity and choice by assigning mental space to each of the relatively few items they allow into their minds.

So back to the tall guy with the purple hair… This is what we have to do with our sourcing too! For better or for worse, recruiting is not sheltered from the onslaught of choice and abundance. Recruiters must realize that half of our job is attaching something interesting to each position. Making it unique and different.



Three tips on this:


  • People don't like confusion – The recruiter needs to keep the message uncomplicated. Use simple words to give straightforward answers and information.
  • People are emotional – Candidates decide for various, difficult-to-explain reasons. They may continue to stick with a company they understand and remember even when other vacancies offer a better future. They tend to look to others for guidance or reassurance. This is why testimonials are so important.
  • People don't change their minds easily – As a general rule, it is nearly impossible to change people's minds. As with any general rule, there are exceptions. But the factors above help explain why, once people have made their minds up, they are reluctant to go through the whole process of rearranging the ladder, coping with confusion and wrestling with emotions again just to make their minds up a different way. People rely on others for guidance. Changing the minds of a mass of people may be even harder than changing an individual's mind – but since the individual looks to the mass for guidance, part of the challenge is changing his or her mind.


Let’s narrow our focus on recruiting ESL teachers. This is especially tricky because ESL teaching is a young person’s game…

Yes, plenty of newly graduated optimistic youngsters hop on planes and have amazing experiences. They were born the day before yesterday, or so it may seem. Millennials have no memory of a world without the World Wide Web, cell phones, or personal computers. They have come of age during a time of dramatic technological changes in our society. Just consider the fact that the cell phone has become the fastest-adopted invention in the history of humankind. For many of them, texting and instant messaging have become the chosen methods of communication. Perhaps most of all, they have been plugged into one or another electronic device since they were toddlers.



It doesn’t help that there are more English teaching jobs open across the world than there are teachers to fill them.

Getting their attention is not easy at all. So here are a few suggestions:


  • Emphasize warmer weather if you can: Better weather is the top reason people decide to work abroad, according to the latest poll conducted by Alliance & Leicester International (ALIL). So include words about the weather into your description is a must. eg. "Come to work in shorts, even in December!"
  • Remember to research and emphasize tax advantages of working in your country: Becoming a citizen of the world has many perks, including financial. Not spending too long in any one place, a person can reduce taxes, avoid civic duties, and increase personal freedom.
  • Help the candidate weigh up the local cost of living: High salaries are not always everything. Ultimately it has to do with how much one can put aside after covering their expenses.
  • Be specific in your descriptions of your package. For example, something like "Room in a fully-featured, western-style apartment" will clarify your offering.
  • An authentic writing style in your job description will help the candidate relate: Words such are "You, Your, Yours" makes the ad personal. Bold your keywords. Add an image of your office or people. Be specific, use bullet points where possible.
  • Make sure to show candidates how education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world! The best thing about teaching is that it matters… Teaching is one of the noblest and most respected professions out there… Teachers are the only people who lose sleep over other people’s children.
  • Use FOMO every chance you get: Promote your vacancy with urgency and scarcity by attaching a time limit to it!
  • Always be transparent about duties and responsibilities: Low-quality job boards have caused candidates to become very distrustful about employers. Focus on how you can demonstrate that you can be trusted.
  • Remind candidates about the great experiences they can have during their off time. This goes together with reminding them that the job usually requires only about 35-40 hrs/week leaving plenty of time for exploration.
  • Remind your candidates that being a teacher does not mean you are stuck in the same career for all your life... Following a teaching stint, there are several cool career paths possible such as Foreign Service Officer, International Corporate Trainer, Linguist, Translator etc.



The common view of emotions in recruiting is negative. "Don’t get so worked up," people will advise you. Or they may say, "You need to keep a cool head" or even, "Let’s not let our emotions carry us away here. We need to think rationally."



At Movinhand we all believe this is bad advice. We believe that to ignore their role, to deny the wisdom of your own emotions and those of others is to invite failure as a person, as a recruiter, and as a leader.

Emotions are key especially for the ESL recruiter! Learn how to use the above triggers and you’ll see more engagement from candidates from day one.