in Work

Your job descriptions are terrible

Can we talk about job descriptions for a second? If there’s anything the internet age hasn’t gotten rid of, it’s terribly written, nondescript job descriptions that fail to really drill down what you’re looking for or what you want out of a person.

People don’t do a great job of asking the right questions when they apply for a job, but part of that is not knowing whether after weeks of waiting for a reply whether they’ll get a callback or not for even the most pedestrian of offerings. There are two sides to this discussion, but I’m just talking about it from the perspective of a startup denizen who has had to actually hire people and has managed success doing so.

I ran a consultancy called Synonym and we posted an ad on Authentic Jobs that yielded an impressive list of candidates. So much so that after we dissolved — economic crash was not our friend — a few of my team members suggested I’d be a great recruiter. I do think I’m pretty good at bringing people together, but in this case it was simply one ad on one site that wasn’t even as big at the time as it is now.

So what did we do right?

  • We   made sure it was short.
  • Didn’t ask for a resume (it was optional. Some folks sent them anyway.)
  • Specific about our needs.
  • Made the process relatively painless for the person replying.
  • Included a link so they can find out more about your company or at least, an email where they can reach out.

A lot of what worked for us, would be a lot harder for a larger company. You only get a few words to give people insight into who you are, what you’re looking for and why they’d want to come join your team. The other thing I learned is, you’ll usually get your best candidates in the first 10% of the emails you receive in response to your job ad. This isn’t a scientific study, but it’s happened enough time that I tend to believe it. I’m not sure why this happens and sure, I’ve seen good people come through a few days after seeing the ad.

The most important tenet is getting rid of the superfluous noise that proliferate most ads. Heck, you can even dispense with the stuff you’ll never pay attention to. Resumes? In 2015? They’re still needed in a lot of cases, but given how little people read them, it’s a wonder we’re still asking for them as anything more than an exercise.

I’ve been in interviews where people are actively reading the resume during the interview trying to glean things from it. Worse, I’ve been hired for jobs only to have bosses later come back and ask me critical things that made it clear they’d paid no attention at all to my background.

Know what your organization is looking for before you start, so when the search process begins you’re not just posting a job, but filling for a position on a team.