I’m a student of language.
Not like, an honours student, but a student nonetheless.
I love me a good pun, I think word play should be celebrated, and the only thing I appreciate more (linguistically) than a double entendre is a triple entendre. Come to think of it, that statement would have been much cooler if I had come up with one there, but meh.
I think it’s safe to say that no one in the history of the universe actually enjoys being talked at or bombarded with jargon and fluffy nonsense.
I think it’s also safe to say that we’ve entered a time where it’s becoming more normal for individuals to build a significant audience via their platform of choice, and achieve ‘influencer’ status in a very short period of time.
The end result of this perfect storm of inspiration meets empowerment, meets content, fuelled by technology and our zombie like hunger for new information, sadly, for the most part is… noise.
Noise coming from people.
Noise coming from organizations.
Noise that never seems to stop, but gets louder every day.
Working in the people business – more specifically, the recruiting business – I’m not that innocent in this regard, nor are many of my peers in the talent acquisition space.
Take something as simple as job postings for example.
I haven’t actually counted the number of “Apply now!” posts in my LinkedIn feed at present, but I bet those nuggets of joy easily comprise 50 % of the content that LinkedIn tosses up in front of me every day.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to seeing the content.
I’m just annoyed that most of the content is garbage.
Just to be clear, I’m referring to job postings; NOT job descriptions.
If I just lost you and you suspect I’m splitting hairs here, buckle up.
Job postings and job descriptions are entirely different things.
Job postings are advertisements; job descriptions are HR documents.
To me, job postings serve three primary purposes:
To humanize an organization’s brand as an employer.
To engage job seekers in a temporary, one-way conversation.
To elicit an emotional response.
Notice I didn’t say collect job applicants.
Sure, job postings yield job applicants, but when it’s normal to have 100 people apply to a job, 10 of which are qualified for the role, and only 1 (or fingers crossed, maaaaaybe 2) of them are hireable, something is seriously wrong.
I don’t care what the #MondayMotivation folks say, delivering 99 fails for every success story shouldn’t be acceptable when you’re in the people business.
Considering I’m dangerously close to sounding off on a rant without providing a solution, what are the key components of a job posting then?
Let’s revisit the primary purpose of a job posting in the first place.
1 - To humanize an organization’s brand as an employer.
A job posting is often the first personal touch point that individuals have with any given organization. Knowing that people and organizations are at their best when they share a common sense of purpose, meaning or belief system, what better way to start the relationship than by articulating what your organization stands for, and why?
As Simon Sinek said...
Instead of starting out a job posting with “Reporting to _____, the _____ will be responsible for _____”, consider starting out with “We believe _____ because _____”.
There is a reason why you are willing to wait in line at an Apple store for 3 hours to buy their latest gadget. It’s not because it’s the best in the market. It’s because you believe in what Apple represents.
Content is no longer king.
2 - To engage an audience in a temporary, one-way conversation.
Temporary is the keyword here.
Organizations have a very short period of time to capture the attention of job seekers and that timing is heavily dependent on the first impression.
Once the first impression is made, another hurdle presents itself:
Keeping the job seeker’s attention.
As a side note, I rescued a cat about a year ago. We’ve named her Coco Chanel No 7 because she has 7 digits on every foot. She’s scared of her own shadow, but she’s cute as hell.
That information is about as relevant to you and your success in hiring as filler statements in job postings like “Must have strong communication skills”.
Being able to communicate is a given requirement for the vast majority of roles today and statements like this do nothing to differentiate one role, or organization from the next.
To make your job posting stand out and actually speak to your ideal future employee, stop talking at job seekers with nonsense statements that anyone with a pulse would assume is required. Instead, give job seekers a clear view of what success looks like for your next hire, how you’re going to evaluate potential in your job applicants, and what they can expect after hitting ‘apply’.
Remember, you don’t need 100 job applicants; you only need to attract the people that fit your profile.
Which brings me to point number 3.
3 - To elicit an emotional response.
No matter how elaborate Siri’s algorithm gets, what separates people from machines is our ability to feel emotion.
Instead of only trying to excite job applicants about the potential of joining your team, you should also focus on turning undesirable job seekers away. You can do this easily by facing the reality of your present state, and owning your warts as an organization.
Have some brutal employer reviews on Glassdoor?
Awesome! Provide a link to them on your job postings.
Do you have a horribly drawn-out selection process that provides an atrocious candidate experience?
Great! Tell job seekers to expect headaches during their courtship so they can decide if they really want to work for you.
This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s important to give people full transparency about what they are getting into before they throw their hat in the ring.
If you own your bad as much as you promote your good, you’ll quickly find that those who share your WHY will forgive your failures because they believe in what you believe, and are willing to wait in line for you if they have to.
Remember, emotion drives behaviour and hiring isn’t a popularity contest.
Although I thoroughly enjoy unfollowing people on LinkedIn that seem more interested in being seen and talking at me than providing value (and start each day by doing so), it is truly an incredible time to be alive.
We all have access to an infinite amount of information at our finger tips, and I myself am just as hungry for new information as you.
Given the pace of technology and how easy it has become to blast our ‘thought leadership’ out to the masses, I don’t expect the quality of our content to change for the better overnight.
Frankly, it’s to my advantage for it not to.
As someone that works in the people business however, I feel that it’s important to recognize that the content that we create is intended to be absorbed by other human beings, and no one likes to be talked at.
My plea to you all:
If you are in a hiring situation - if you find yourself complaining that you are not getting enough quality job applicants and are having a hard time hiring the people you need for your business to be successful, it’s not your job applicants' fault.