Recruiters, wake up! Step up your content game
3 things to know and improve immediately in your job descriptions
This is not a guide on 'how to write a job description'; these are three quick fixes any recruiter can do.
I get it; hunting for new talent is hard. Recruiters, you have to update your content game to get seen and attract the right people. Time to be transparent and be real.
- Visual sexiness
- Leave out the obvious
- Personal contact matters
At the moment, nothing is as tear-jerking, boring, and outdated as the JD.
The usual format is to start with blah blah blah about your company and brand. You’re so sustainable, exists for hundreds of years, and you’re looking for staff. Duh… we know you are looking as this is a JD.
Followed by an impossibly long list of bullet-listed requirements, looking for the five-legged sheep.
After that, the ‘you bring’ list, preferably also in bullets.
Finally, again, the bullet listed the offer. Usually, some ‘industry standard payment’ descriptions and perks like an iPhone and laptop and statutorily obligated vacation days.
Did you fall asleep already? I know I did. In 2023 you need to step up your recruitment game. JDs with more bullets than words don’t make people tick, click or apply.
Why it matters
Getting the right talent in matters. We all know that. Keeping that talent onboard matters even more. Nothing as costly as a new hire who quits after a few months in. Speaking from experience.
It all starts with the JD.
How you present yourself dictates who applies. The more standard and boring your JD, the more dime in a dozen applicants you get. Not to mention, your social JD post will not stand out and get that desired reach.
1. Visual sexiness
How you look matters. Instead of a death-by-bullets list, insert some visuals, videos, or audio. Keep away from the polished corporate stock visuals and use real-time on-the-work-floor visuals from co-workers, the office, or the product. Use a snippet from a podcast. Or a short video from the recruiter. Be real.
Combine the bullets with some real copy. Rule of thumb:
- ~70 words per paragraph with a sub-header
- Stick to three to four paragraphs per JD
- Not more than seven bullets per listing. You don’t want a ‘checking off all the
boxesbullets’ applicant, do you?
And please, for the copy, write in human language. Next to leaving out the obvious, also leave out the jargon and the buzzwords. If you need these to fluff up the JD, you may not understand the job well enough.
Finally, the social preview. How your JD is represented if you copy-paste the url in a LinkedIn post. Often just the brand logo, sometimes a typical stock photo, and that's about it. Check out Oatly, leading by example, not only in changing the world, also in recruitment.
2. Leave out the obvious
No shit Sherlock. We know you’re looking for a marketer who does marketing and knows social. And who can type, and he or she knows how to handle Word, Excel, and can create death-by-powerpoint.
The same goes for empty descriptions such as ‘you’re enthusiastic and driven’. Not to mention the ‘you don’t have a 9 to 5 mentality’. If the latter is listed, by default, you know it is a burnout job with lots of work for little pay.
Please, describe the job to be done and how this job contributes to the mission and vision of the brand. Mention the challenges on the daily grind. If you, as a recruiter, don’t know, ask the co-workers or the hiring manager for input.
And be upfront about the payment and put it in the first view. Not at the end with vague ‘market-compliant.’ Then you know the payment is sh*t. People apply to earn cash, not for charity or entertainment. They work to earn an income and make a living.
Leading by example, Vodafone Ziggo opens its social JD with the payment and not-so-obvious perks. Job well done.
3. Personal contact matters
The last easy fix is to offer an option B to apply. Besides hitting the flashy shiny blinking ‘apply now’ button, introduce an option to have a personal, informal chat with the recruiter about the job.
More often than not, the applicant doesn’t tick all the five-legged sheep boxes or has some questions. Making it easier for the talent to contact you personally – instead of pushing them into the rigid application tool.
Easy does it; list the recruiter's name, picture, email address, or phone number for WhatsApp. Personal contact matters.
Last but not least, my personal frustration. Cover letters. WTF?
First, as a hiring manager, I never read them as they all state the same bullsh*t.
Second, as an applicant, I hate to write them as I feel thrown back into the 80s. I prefer a personal chat about why I want to work with that brand.
My resume speaks for itself. I devoted a sh*tload of time to making my resume reflect my knowledge, what I bring to the table, how I can help you, and let my personality shine. And me reaching out to the brand after reading a JD already shows that I’m interested in working for you.
Please don’t underestimate the power of having fun.
This also goes for JDs. Having a laugh, being a little mischievous, playing with words, provoking with visuals, and showing that your care are the main ingredients for success and get your JD out there.
Rule of thumb, is the JD your created something you would read yourself? And are you proud of the result? If it's not a hell yes, then it's a no – reconsider posting. If you don’t like it, how the hell will the talent like it?
Be inspired. Oatly nails it with the social preview of the JD and the application page itself, including the follow-up email after submitting. Email is not included in this post due to privacy.
Learn how to write a JD
Credits to Sam Topuzes, "Hiring is a bit like dating: in both contexts, you aim for a two-way match. It’s good to be clear about what you need, as well as how you could meet the needs of whom you want to attract."
She wrote an amazing step by step guide how to get the best JD. Check it out, and I'll come back to this in another post.
Credits where credits due: Michiel van der Blij for the inspiration and his work on defining the best practices on job descriptions in Dutch.
My personal frustration. Cover letters. WTF? First, as a hiring manager, I never read them as they all state the same BS. Second, as an applicant, I hate to write them as I feel thrown back into the 80s and prefer to have a personal chat about why I’m interested in working with that brand.