I have read a lot of job postings lately. I mean, a lot.
For the most part, it takes only the first two sentences for me to start daydreaming about liquidating all my worldly possessions and hitting the road to live out my days as a gypsy, selling tiny novelty sweaters, knit out of pocket lint. Or something like that.
I think that job postings are often written in a slap dash way because the hiring manager simply has more pressing priorities–which is precisely why they’re trying to find help in the first place. So you can see the conundrum: too much work, need to hire, not enough time to craft a thoughtful job posting. But what does that get you? Piles of so-so applications to sift through, lots of frustrated time spent and wasted wondering where all the good candidates are.
This is all based on my own personal experience, of course. I confess, I’ve tweaked a few old job descriptions in the past, just to get the thing done as fast as I can. Job postings, like creative briefs, should be written with the intention of inspiring the creative team, enabling them to put their best thinking forward. Similar to creative briefs, however, more often than not they’re shot over to the agency, without sufficient thought or effort, in fear of the slave driver of timing.
I think I’m a good candidate. I mean, who doesn’t? I would like to feel excited and inspired by the job posting, so if I could get my way, here’s what all job postings would look like:
BREAKING: I’m human. And so are you. I don’t think in terms of “identifying opportunities to improve marketing ROI and making recommendations to enhance these efforts” or “developing and executing innovative and engaging communication content”. Or I don’t want to anyway. These are actual lines from an actual posting that I obviously won’t be applying to now that I’ve mocked the poster. Describe the job in everyday language. And don’t give me a task list. Instead…
Describe the Challenge
Give me a high level description of the problems that your organization is trying to solve. These might be your existing departmental goals, or perhaps specific targets for an ongoing project. Or, tie it in to your company’s mission. Let me know what I’m up against.
Get a Little RACI
Give context to the work by telling me for what I will be Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. This sets the boundaries for the role and lets me know what the expectations are. Although, if I’m a candidate worth my salt, it also lets me know how to go above and beyond by thinking outside those boundaries.
Toss the Skills Grocery List
I’ll need to know how to use Word and Excel? Really? Duh.
Don’t tell me what skills I’ll need to have to get the job done; let me tell you. If I am indeed well-qualified for the job, then I should be able to explain what tools I will need and that includes soft skills, in order to solve the problem you’ve already described so nicely before.
This will allow me to customize my résumé and give me material for the cover letter I should be writing for the specific job. Then during the interview stage, I can show you my personality, while giving you some past examples of how I have handled the job as described. We can also talk about some of the ideas I have on how to approach the challenges you’ve laid out. Side benefit: even if you don’t hire me, you might get some new perspective on a problem you’ve been trying to solve.
In short, if presented in this way, I’ll be applying for the job you’re posting–not just any job–and from start to finish of the hiring process, we can have a relevant conversation, specific to the role, that will result in getting the right person for the job. Because you haven’t lost them to the gypsy lifestyle.
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My friend Joel wrote this job posting that really stood out to me as different and how I wish more postings were written. It made me want to work for his company, Softchoice, and got me excited about the job. Now, working alongside a longtime friend — that’s a different issue. But I think I’ll save that for another post.
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