Insights to help you build an extraordinary team.
There are a lot of good reasons to use an executive search or recruiting firm, such as the desire to hire the best candidate possible whether or not that person is actively looking to change jobs. But don’t use our services to find candidates that you could have hired on your own if only your job post was more enticing.
I have read job postings where three-fourths (or more) of the page is dedicated to describing what the company wants from the candidate rather than what the company or the job has to offer. If someone is really motivated to find a new job, or if your company name is Google, people will read through your boring, laundry list job post. But what about that person who is just casually skimming through the job postings? Or what about the person who after two lines will realize he or she is not a fit and move on. What if your interesting job post got the person’s attention long enough to generate the thought “This is a really great job! Maybe not the right fit for me, but I should share this with my network.”
When you post a job, you already have a limited pool of people that you will reach. Why limit this even more by not making the most of the opportunity. Instead of a list of requirements or even a list of duties, start with a description of what makes this a great opportunity. If this was your company’s home page and you wanted to attract potential customers, would you start by listing the requirements for becoming a customer?
Hopefully, you would get into your customer’s head and ask the question, “What will pique the prospective customer’s interest?” Right? Why not the same on a job posting?
I happened to look at a job posting for a Sr. Software Engineer posted by my client, DogVacay, and it turns out to be a great example. Before listing the job requirements and technical details, here is the opening paragraph:
At DogVacay, our engineers are encouraged to use the tools that will get the job done versus forcing them to follow a set path that might stifle their creativity. We like software engineers who take pride in what they do and understand the importance of building code that is testable. We value the principles of Test Driven Development and Service Oriented Architecture. We believe in writing software that can be scaled independently and we favor asynchronous communication where possible. We believe in teamwork and collaboration and encourage all our engineers to communicate directly with the business owners. We believe in investing in the growth of our engineers and we like engineers who code because they love it and not because it is a means to make a living.
Obviously the person who wrote this has talked to an engineer before. The right candidate for the job is reading this and saying, “Yeah, yeah… that’s me!” On the other hand, if the person reading this does not identify, then that is a good indicator that he or she is not the right culture fit and need not apply.
Here is another example from DogVacay – not a job posting but an excerpt from an email I’m sending to target candidates. In this case, since I am reaching out directly, my email takes the place of an intro found in a job posting:
The Director of Marketplaces Development role represents an exciting opportunity to have real impact as part of the newly formed Marketplaces Development team, working closely with former leaders from groundbreaking marketplace companies such as eBay, Airbnb and Uber. The people sought for this team are ambitious leaders with a progressive history of accomplishment and rolling up their sleeves to deliver results. As an early team member and vital contributor, you will have opportunity to help shape your role and contribute to defining team objectives.
This is the right role for someone with a solid grasp of strategy and analytics who not only finds deep satisfaction from getting the puzzle right and solving big problems, but also has a compelling need (and impressive ability) to execute and see tangible results!
Before you write a job posting, ask these questions:
When writing a job post, brevity is fine. Sometimes I think people create the laundry list job postings in an attempt to deter unqualified applicants. Trust me, you are going to get responses from unqualified candidates no matter what you write. What if you saw the job posting as a conversation starter rather than as an attempt to control the responses? This approach doesn’t mean you need to have a conversation with everyone who responds. A brief “no thank you” will do. Yet, why not increase your opportunity to have conversations with people who are truly motivated by what your company and your job opening have to offer.
Remember, think in terms of offering an opportunity, not just a job.
PRO TIP: If you company has a marketing leader, get her or his input on the appeal of your job posting to your intended audience.
I love helping startups build great teams — even when there isn’t a fee involved. If you are a startup founder ready to post a job or with a job posting that is not performing well, I will be happy to critique this for you and give you some pointers! For free!