Debbie McGrath Debbie McGrath

Mad Men and HR Recruiting Strategy: 10 Unexpected Common Themes

September 1, 2014

Posted to by Danny Kellman, The Human Capital Centre of Expertise

If you have watched the roaring success of the television show Mad Men, which revolves around advertising, office politics, workplace conflicts and success, you know by now that the main character Don Draper would make for a great recruiter—should he ever give up advertising. Here are ten things in common between Mad Men and HR recruitment strategy:

1. Company policies: A good recruitment strategy involves giving employees who have just been hired all of the details of the company policies—do’s and don’ts, conditions and conflict-of-interest clauses, to avoid trouble later. When the Mad Men accounts person (Ken Cosgrove) doubles as a science-fiction writer during his off-time, he is pulled in by the boss who brings up conflict of interest and threatens to fire him.

2. Insider fraud: Companies are vulnerable to insider fraud such as embezzlement of funds, leaking out details for money, or hacking. When Lane Pryce forges Don Draper’s name on a check belonging to the company; he is caught and fired. The episode brings into focus the importance of having a proper firing/termination policy for fraudulent employees and how bosses handle insider fraud, keeping in mind the discrimination laws. A good fraud-detection and prevention policy is crucial; so is employee verification, background checks and internal/external auditing.

3. Employee engagement for lower turnout: Draper’s longtime pupil (and whipping post) Peggy eventually cannot take any more humiliation from him. A new, talented youngster (Michael Ginsberg) is hired by Don, despite Peggy’s concerns. Peggy eventually leaves to take a position at a rival firm.

4. Good talent management: Pete Campbell is an asset to the ad firm, but because of an ineffective talent-management strategy, he’s all at sea. There’s no one helping him with his career. Companies need to invest in employees with great potential.

5. HR with an emotional connect: How do you ensure your employees develop bonds with your company? Seek to create emotional connects with people. When Draper has to discuss the ad pitch for a new slide projector, he makes a passionate and sentimental bond with the product by calling the device a “time machine” that lets people travel to a place called home, where we are loved.

6. Great work environment: Companies should invest in a good workplace atmosphere, where employees feel happy and comfortable. Draper’s corner office is a lesson in recruitment strategy. Appearances matter a great deal to attract potential employees.

7. Right person for the right job: Draper is a great hire for the position of creative director, with his constant ideating and need to reinvent himself. In fact, he confuses his boss and bulldozes his into getting hired. Roger, one of the company’s partners, does not initially show interest in hiring Draper, but is eventually convinced. Sometimes, your best hires happen by accident.

8. Hiring different personality types: Hiring people as varied as Draper, Peggy and Pete can pay off, because differing personality types provides multiple approaches to handling issues.

9. Dressing the part, being the part: If you are a recruiter, you need to turn out well. A boss who conducts interviews in a bad, wrinkled suit may not attract many employees. Notice how Don, Peggy, Pete and others dress the part on Mad Men.

10. Staying flexible: A new employee may be very good, and yet not suit the role for which he was originally hired. HR managers should move such a person to another position to capitalize on his strength. The biggest Mad Men example is Peggy, who originally joins the firm as a secretary and moves on to become copywriter. MF
Industry-Related Terms: Checks, Corner
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms

Technologies: Management


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