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How does Santa Claus recruit elves to work in his factory?
Everyone knows that there's a workshop up at the North Pole that churns out a good percentage of the toys, cookies and candy canes received every Christmas, but you may not have realised that as the world's population grows, more and more workers are needed in order to do this. Every year, agencies all over the world vie to be the official recruitment partner of Father Christmas, as he seeks to fill job roles like Toymaker, Chocolatier, Reindeer Keeper, and even Air Traffic Controller!
We take a look at some of the time-honoured, secret techniques Santa and his highly-skilled recruitment partners use to select the elves who create your presents. Only the happiest, kindest, most indefatigable workers in the world need apply!
Throughout history, elves have been renowned for their good nature (and are certainly not to be confused with goblins in this regard!). But when it comes to making presents for the world's children, there are certain qualities that Father Christmas requires of his workers. Each and every gift has to be crafted to the highest standards, be aesthetically pleasing, and above all be made with huge amounts of love.
Many others wait in the wings, wanting to spoil Christmas for everyone by sabotaging toy production, sneaking anchovies into Christmas chocolate, or even kidnapping Santa himself!
Whether they come from the rolling plains of Texas, the frozen tundra of Siberia, or the cloud-hooded mesas of Venezuela, Santa's little helpers are among the most selfless of all elfkind. This is important, as the man in the red suit has a strict 'no frowning' policy in his workshop - with anyone found to be breaking this rule subject to a diet of chocolate, rest, and recreation, until they are smiling again. With no time to waste, this means that recruitment is of the utmost importance up at the North Pole!
Roles that Father Christmas recruits for
Santa's recruitment process is actually so highly-tuned, that you won't find a single Quality Control Operative anywhere near his workshop! The North Pole elves are so highly motivated and competent, that there's never been a need for a Six Sigma Blackbelt or TQM Guru up there. On the other hand, our secret intel shows that Santa did recently recruit for the following roles:
A classic elfin role, Santa's Toymakers are true artisans - producing everything from dolls and toy cars to games consoles and quad-rotor drones with the highest quality imaginable. With their uncommonly good eyesight and nimble fingers, elves are well-suited to this role, but Santa seeks out only the best for his production line - with competency testing for manual dexterity and attention to detail likely to be on the agenda for any applicants lucky enough to be invited up north.
Santa's reindeer team has not grown since the addition of Rudolph on Christmas Eve, 1939.
Toymakers take some artistic licence in their role, but they can't go completely off-piste or there'd be chaos! For this reason, Santa recruits Designers to plan out how things are going to go together. To be a successful designer takes creativity, vision, and technical knowledge - and in order to demonstrate this, North Pole elves require a portfolio of quality work before they can be considered. Competition is often close here - as Santa and his recruiters try to work out who will create the next big thing!
The North Pole Workshop doesn't just make toys; in fact it's estimated that this is where around 67% of the world's candy canes are produced! Chocolate; cookies; sugared almonds; there's no end to the treats in cold storage out at the back of Santa's workshop! As well as Chefs and Cooks to actually produce sweet treats, Santa needs Development Chefs for his experimental kitchen, specialist Chocolatiers to create intricate delights, and of course Caterers to keep his small army of workers fed! Different skills are sought depending on the exact role in question, but many of these elves have top restaurant experience.
Despite being extremely good natured, Father Christmas has a multitude of enemies. Plenty of readers will be familiar with the Grinch and Oogie Boogie, but many others wait in the wings, wanting to spoil Christmas for everyone by sabotaging toy production, sneaking anchovies into Christmas chocolate, or even kidnapping Santa himself! In order to defend the fort against these threats, a specialist elf security force was created - drawing highly-skilled operatives from police and military units around the world. To succeed in this role requires a high level of integrity - and psychometric testing is employed in order to ensure this.
Another classic job role for an elf, Reindeer Keeper is a highly sought-after position, and as such, competition for this one is tough. This is also one of the least recruited positions in Santa's Workshop - because Santa's reindeer team has not grown since the addition of Rudolph on Christmas Eve, 1939. We have it on good authority that at least one new Keeper has been taken on this year, however. Qualifications-wise, a degree in Zoology will help - as does experience as a Stablehand, Zookeeper, or Veterinarian.
Then there's the small question of deciding who's been naughty and nice!
Another role that isn't often in demand but which is highly competitive is the role of Santa's official Sleigh Mechanic. This might sound like quite a simple task, but once you consider that: a) Santa's sleigh flies at nearly the speed of light, and b) it runs on magic, you begin to realise that it's really quite a complicated bit of kit. In order to keep his sleigh in working order, Santa requires experienced Mechanics, Engineers, and Aviation Technicians - with a degree in Mechanical Engineering or similar a definite bonus.
Although the North Pole Facility is commonly-known as Santa's 'Workshop', what many people don't realise is that Santa's Warehouse actually eclipses any other building in the whole enormous complex. Even the world's largest retailers can't approach this cavernous structure for complexity or size. Every year, legions of Pickers, Forklift Drivers, and Present Wrappers are drafted in to help keep Santa's Warehouse well-stocked and ready to go. 'Elf and Safety workers oversee the whole process. The key to success in this job is speed and accuracy - so again, competency testing is used to identify likely candidates in this case.
Procurement and Logistics
Santa doesn't need trucks or trains to deliver his presents - because he does all of that himself! But goods and raw materials still need to arrive into the Workshop so that his Toymakers, Chocolatiers and the rest, can work their magic. For this reason, you'll also find a small army of Buyers, Procurement Specialists and Production Planners at the North Pole, carefully managing the supply chain. These elves need an eye for quality, good negotiation skills, and a head for figures. Santa's recruiters look for elves who already have experience in junior roles, as well as transferable skills from jobs in Retail and Transport.
Santa very rarely recruits on a temporary basis, because gift-making is a year-round job.
Customer Service Operative
Given the high quality of the products produced at the North Pole, you'd be correct in thinking that there isn't much need for a returns department - but we can't forget the millions of children who write letters to Santa every year! Then there's the small question of deciding who's been naughty and nice! Because he already has a very heavy workload, Father Christmas employs hundreds of Customer Service elves to assist him in the mammoth task of keeping track of his favourite people. When looking for candidates to work in this capacity, Santa wants hard-working, empathetic elves - who he finds by using psychometric testing.
Air Traffic Controller
The Christmas Sleigh doesn't just get used at Christmas - in fact, it's Santa's chosen mode of transport in all seasons. Even in a sparsely-populated area like the North Pole, there is still quite a lot of air traffic, so Santa has to be careful that he knows where he's going! For this reason, Santa's Secret Base incorporates a flight control tower, where elves ensure that air traffic stays safely separated. As this is a highly-specialised job role, Santa tends to use a specialist recruitment agency to get hold of the right elves here.
We've already seen that Santa's helpers represent one of the hardest-working, best-motivated workforces around - and in order to keep things that way, there are a few specialist elves who endeavour to keep all the others in the organisation up-to-date and ready to go. These Training Elves are important in the task of keeping Santa's vision alive, and conduct regular courses and assessments to check that everyone knows what they are doing. In order to get the best training staff, the bearded one's recruiters look for elves with educational experience, expertise in their field, and / or a history of exceptional leadership.
What does Father Christmas look for in an elf?
As we've seen, there are a few different things that Santa looks for in his helpers - and a lot of it depends on the job role in question. But there are a few traits that are helpful in any elf - and anyone looking to relocate to the North Pole would do well to consider these.
Whilst Santa is careful to keep his workers happy and motivated to ensure that the qualities above aren't eroded, he needs to ensure that he's weeding out any bad eggs in the first place.
Firstly, you have to well be prepared to actually move to the North Pole! Whilst Santa provides a generous relocation package for all his workers - giving help finding a new home for them and their families, this is still a big move for most elves. This is especially true for those used to warmer climes, but the midnight sun that bathes the North Pole with light 24 hours a day at certain times of year - as well as the extreme cold - can be difficult for anyone to get used to.
The extreme climate of his chosen location - as well as his benevolent nature - means that Santa does everything he can to improve the quality of his elves' lives - and for this reason, you'll find a number of things at the North Pole intended to alleviate the problems associated with the local climate and other geographic factors. Santa regularly organises snowball fights - as well as snow sculpture and igloo competitions to keep his workers happy - and one area of his Workshop is even rumoured to contain an artificial beach, complete with a specialist lighting system!
This is especially important because although people commonly think of Santa's elves as working only around Christmas time, Santa very rarely recruits on a temporary basis, and gift-making is actually a year-round job. This means that elves are recruited for permanent job roles, and need to be sure that they are going to be able to manage up in the Arctic Circle on a long-term basis.
As we mentioned earlier, the qualities that Santa looks for in his workers are really just the qualities that elves are famous for in the first place. Happiness, kindness, and seriously good attention to detail are all great traits to have if you're going to work in the world's largest gift production and distribution facility. Whilst Santa is careful to keep his workers happy and motivated to ensure that the qualities above aren't eroded, he needs to ensure that he's weeding out any bad eggs in the first place - and that's where the expertise of his recruiters comes in.
What can we learn from Santa's recruitment technique?
You might think that there's not much you have in common with Father Christmas. After all, he's magical, quite possibly immortal, lives at the North Pole, and never seems to get angry! But if you've ever tried to recruit staff, then you've probably run into similar problems to the guy in red from time to time. Let's take a look at how these problems can be solved - or even turned into opportunities!
Nothing that takes place at the North Pole is part of a short-term solution.
The one stand-out factor in Santa's recruitment drive is that he doesn't scrimp on quality. Whilst the North Pole workshop is renowned all over the world - making this slightly easier than it might be if you don't have an established brand - there are still things that can be learned here.
The first one is that sometimes you just have to hold out for quality people. Depending on your industry, these people might be rare, and you need to have faith that if you are proactive and look in the right places, they will turn up eventually. Unless you are literally desperate for staff, it's usually better to do this than to settle for someone who's not right. Hiring the wrong person is an expensive process!
Secondly, it's advisable to follow Santa's lead and consider using a recruitment agency to find candidates to fill your vacancy. Not only will an agency be able to quickly access a broad range of elves for you, but they will also have a professionally-honed knack for spotting the good ones. It's this intuition which is worth its weight in gold, and will help you to find the very best staff to work in your organisation.
He wants to build a toy-making empire that will stand the test of time - and so far, he has done.
Once you've found good people (or elves), you need to keep them happy if you want them to stay with your organisation in the long term - and this is another area where you can take a leaf out of Santa's book. As the undisputed master of keeping people happy, Father Christmas was always going to be a good employer, but there are areas where you can easily emulate this.
You don't have to have company-sanctioned snowball fights or indoor beaches to keep everyone happy though - because there are a lot of ways you can motivate people without actually spending any money. You could even consider adjusting people's working hours. If you have a genuine drive to build a happy workplace, then you should be able to work with your employees to make that happen - it's really quite a natural process.
lastly, consider the fact that nothing that takes place at the North Pole is part of a short-term solution. Everything that Santa decides is done with the future in mind. He wants to build a toy-making empire that will stand the test of time - and so far, he has done.
Hopefully this article has provided you with some festive recruitment-based entertainment - but equally, we'd like to hope there are lessons that can be learned from the big guy in red's approach. By taking a leaf from Santa's book this year, you can help to ensure that your operation is a happy and successful place to work, and that your staff are the right people for the job.