Especially when your job posting is bland and formulaic.
Your goal is to hire that one great person, which means communicating to that one person in a way that makes them really want the job and to become a part of your team.
I know: Sounds great in theory. But what does that level of clarity and transparency look like in real life?
This recent job posting from Basecamp for a director of engineering could be the ideal template for your next job posting.
1. Pay, work conditions, and reporting structure are clear.
Let's start with salary.
"What did you earn at your last job?" is a question many employers love to ask during job interviews, sometimes even during initial screenings, to determine the salary they will offer a potential employee.
If the job's salary range is $48,000 to $65,000 and they know you're currently making $50,000 a year, they'll may offer $52,000 or $53,000. Whatever they feel will be just enough to entice you to take the job -- even if they were willing to pay $60,000.
And even if $60,000 is fair compensation for the value you bring to their business.
Why is that a problem? What a prospective employee earned at a previous job has no bearing on their value to a new employer. Maybe they took that job to gain experience. Maybe they liked the short commute. Maybe they didn't recognize their value. Whatever the reason, it's their reason.
The pay level they were willing to accept at their last job has no bearing on what you should be willing to pay them. Ultimately, an employee's pay should reflect their value to you -- and to Basecamp, that value is $324,450.
As for work conditions? The job is "fully remote," and the candidate must live within a four-hour overlap with U.S. Central Time. The reporting structure is also clear: The candidate will report directly to the CTO and will initially be in charge of four lead teams, and up to seven or eight by the end of the year.
Clearly laying out the salary, work conditions, and reporting structure sets the perfect tone. Candidates know how much they will earn. They know where and how they will work. They know whom they will report to, and who will report to them. Some of those variables might not work for certain candidates.
And that's OK. Upfront clarity and transparency may disqualify some otherwise great candidates, but that's a lot better than hiring a person who later discovers that a fundamental aspect of the job is not right for them.
2. The hiring process is clear.
"We're accepting applications over the next two weeks, and seek to have our pick start before the end of March." Once applications are received, candidates who make it to the second round will be notified in early February. (Which, admittedly, isn't as good as promising that everyone who applies will hear back, but it is a step in the right direction.)
Granted, setting a time frame may be problematic, especially if you're concerned it might take time to cast a net wide enough to attract the perfect candidate. But that's also OK: If you need to expand the time frame, revise your job posting and explain you still haven't found the perfect candidate.
Maybe that will cause the right person, one who initially didn't feel they had a shot, to go ahead and apply.
Even if it doesn't, setting parameters ensures job candidates know what to expect.
And, speaking of expectations ...
3. Performance expectations are clear.
The job posting's "About the Job" section provides a thorough description of expectations, duties, and skills. Programming language. Development methodology. New products and projects.
And, most important, expectations. Minimizing bottlenecks. Setting priorities. Developing employees in specific ways. Overseeing the process of hiring 12 to 15 new employees. Developing certain internal capabilities. Meeting specific performance targets.
And then there's this: The job "demands a career of deep technical expertise, so you can engage with our team leads on the specifics and weigh the tradeoffs with proficiency. But the day-to-day work is focused on people over code. The broad technical and architectural direction is set by our CTO."
That section is key. Candidates who want responsibility for determining the company's technical and architectural direction need not apply. Candidates who want to program all day need not apply.
"The day-to-day work is focused on people over code."
Which means people who want to lead -- people who want to accomplish things by motivating, developing, and working with other people -- should apply.
4. And then there's this ...
A potential elephant in the Basecamp room involves the company's ban last year on social and political discussions on work platforms. Basecamp took some public heat, and a number of employees resigned in response.
The job posting tackles that issue head-on:
We respect everyone's right to participate in political expression and activism, but avoid having political debates on our internal communication systems. Basecamp as a company also does not weigh in on politics publicly, outside of topics directly related to our business. You should be at peace with both of these stances.
If you don't agree with those stances, hey, don't apply. Companies have a right to create and try to maintain their own culture.
The key is that every prospective employee understands the Basecamp culture up front.
And that every prospective employee understands the unique aspects of your culture up front -- because the right candidate will want to be a part of your culture and your team.