Someone recently sent me this link to a job posting as an example of a company that finally got a job ad right. What's awesome about this ad is that you can actually read it and understand what the job is all about. There's no incomprehensible jargon, no sentences that sound like they were lifted out of a poorly-written internal processes manual at the most bureaucratic company imaginable. It's just ... someone talking like a normal person about what the job is like, who would be good at it, and why you might like it.

In other words, it's both everything a job ad should be and the exact opposite of what most job ads are like.

To illustrate my point, here are some real quotes from the first page of search results I pulled up on Monster for jobs in my local area:

"Develop and leverage key relationships with stakeholders that enable collaboration across the enterprise"

"Coordinate with applicable business areas to define/implement remediation activities"

"Design, develop and manage proprietary Electronic Data Capture (EDC) system's electronic Case Report Forms (CRFs) and implement Case Report Forms that adhere to company standard operating procedures"

Do these excite you?

Job descriptions like these are a sign that someone in that company has lost sight of the whole point of a job posting.

When you're advertising for a new hire, a job posting is a marketing document. You're trying to attract people who will be excited about the work; potential candidates shouldn't have to wade through heavy jargon and overused buzzwords to try to figure out what the job is all about.

The great mystery of all this is that most managers can talk enthusiastically and compellingly about a role they're hiring for--what its impact will be and what it looks like when done right--but for some reason all that life gets drained out of the job posting. Managers need to start refusing to let jobs on their team be represented by deadly dull, dense, and semi-incomprehensible job descriptions.

I hereby challenge every manager out there to start using these three principles to write job descriptions that don't suck:

1. Stop losing sight of the fact that your job posting is a marketing document, something that needs to, you know, market the job. You want strong candidates to imagine what it would be like to work in this role, at this organization, with these people--and to be excited about it.

2. Drop the jargon. And there are no extra points for using extra words. You should write in clear, simple language that someone outside your organization would easily understand. It's fine, even desirable, to be relatively informal and conversational. Don't write "the communications manager is responsible for all communications-oriented operations for external audiences" when you can write "the communications manager runs the show when it comes to public outreach."

3. Figure out why someone would be enthusiastic about the job, and talk about that. Maybe the position is an opportunity to change the lives of students, or a chance to be mentored by a successful leader, or an opportunity to work with cutting-edge technology. Say so or candidates won't know.

In other words, talk like a normal person and think like the candidate you're looking for. You'll attract better candidates, and they'll come to you with a baseline understanding of what the job actually is.

Published on: Jun 10, 2015
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