No such thing as a free lunch

by Rose Sneyd15 Feb 2013

A new recruitment trend in the US involves companies luring potential job candidates with the offer of a free lunch in exchange for their business cards.

The recruiting company rents a food truck, parks it near a stream of foot traffic, and has HR people or senior management meet the flood of hungry workers face-to-face. Lunch is offered for the price of the worker’s business card. Hiring companies can be quite bold about the tactic, even parking their food trucks right outside those competitors whose employees they’d like to steal.

Microsoft was an early pioneer, recruiting engineers for its Kinect for Windows team in 2001 by parking ‘The Swinery’ food truck near Adobe and Google offices, Talent Management reported. The truck, which served pepper bacon with – brace yourself – spray cheese, maple syrup, and chocolate sauce, was staffed by recruiters. In another venture, Risk Management Solutions in Silicon Valley rented the ‘Bacon Bacon’ food truck and strategically placed it outside a cloud computing conference to collect contacts.

A third example involved online public relations software company Vocus. Unable to find the 300 employees, whom they wanted to expand, they offered pizza and soda to workers in Washington DC, the Washington Post reported. As in the Microsoft example, the truck was staffed by recruiters who talked to each customer and invited them to an open house event at Vocus’s headquarters.

How successful are these ventures? Cal Shilling, VP of HR at Vocus called the event, which garnered 130 business cards (and 87 potential recruits), a ‘steal’ at $1,500. He told the Washington Post that he planned to run similar future events.