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A few days ago Astronaut Barry Willmore, and Cosmonauts Elena Serova, and Alexander Samokutyaev were blasted skyward in their Soyuz capsule, off to stay for 6 months on the International Space Station.  A small team of ultra-competitive high achievers, crammed into a tight space, cut off from the real world and normal communications for days on end… a bit like recruitment?

This got me thinking about what Recruiters and Astronauts have in common, and importantly what lessons recruiters can learn from them!

Know the importance of good PR, and how to spin a story!

“We came in peace for all mankind”

First off Recruiters need some lessons from Astronauts.  They need to know the importance of good PR. Even though they do important work, recruiters suffer from a pretty bad (undeserved) public image. Recruiters also have to attract both clients and talent, so PR should not be overlooked. What can astronauts teach us about PR? That you need to be creative and harness the power of social media!

The Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield commanded the International Space Station for half of 2013, and he quickly managed to build himself a Twitter following of over one million people whilst in space, hosted one of the most successful Reddit AMAs of all time, and created a popular tumbler blog. Hadfield thought outside of the box, got his guitar out and did a rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ which has over 22 million views on YouTube.  Via the use of social media he became the most famous astronaut since the moon landings. (Now a recruiter with a guitar on YouTube… there’s a USP!) 

As well as this, NASA knows how to spin a story to make itself look good, and recruiters shouldn’t be afraid of doing the same. Despite being at war in Vietnam at the time, America’s plaque left on the moon read ‘We came in Peace for all mankind’. When the conflict in Vietnam is long forgotten, that plaque will still be on the moon. A timeless reminder of how to handle your public relations!

Take Risks but Minimise Them

“Okay, Houston, we have a problem”

The Recession made Recruiters risk-averse, scared of investing big sums into upgrading their systems. This is starting to change as the economy improves, but Recruiters still need to take a lesson from astronauts in risk taking. 16 astronauts have died in space or on their way to it, space flight is after all, an inherently risky business, but there is no shortage of willing volunteers. This is not to say recruiters should seek out risks (or that they should be willing to die for their candidates).   Just like astronauts they should plan everything meticulously to reduce risks as much as possible, but they also need realise that some risks are worth taking.  And what kinds of risks could recruiters take in 2015?  Another blog for another day…

Take Training Seriously or Crash and Burn

“Failure is not an option”

Astronauts train meticulously for every step of their missions, putting in thousands of hours and going over every move in a spacewalk in advance. Recruiters need to take training seriously too, whether it be learning how to best utilise social media, getting advice on how to write job adverts, or how to use their lovely CRMS. Your clients and candidates are hot on your tails.

Competitive but Collaborative

“I feel fine. How about you?” – Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, when asked how he was doing.

Recruiters also need to be both competitive and collaborative.  The recruitment process has never been more disruptive and littered with tech and candidates who go awol (and back door). Many teams of astronauts train for each mission and only the best are picked to go to space, so they have to be competitive and push themselves to be the best, just like recruiters when they are trying to meet their sales targets and fulfil assignments. Teams of 6 astronauts and cosmonauts spend 6 months in a tiny space ship together, they don’t choose who they fly with just like recruiters don’t choose who they work with, but they have to make sure to all get along, because there is no such thing as down time with your up in orbit!

So Recruiter’s, look to the stars and learn from the brave spacemen and women whizzing over your head. Dare to take risks, but train rigorously to minimise them. Get creative in promoting yourself, and think about your public image. And, last but not least, live long and prosper!

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