Paul Bogaards is an EVP, Director, Public Relations, Knopf Doubleday, a publishing company. He's looking to hire a publicist, and so he wrote what looks like an extremely creative job posting and published on Tumblr (not, as he says, on the official Knopf job's page). It's brilliant. It begins like this:

The Executive Vice President, Director of Publicity and Media Relations for the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (@paulbogaards) is seeking a Publicist to dazzle the industry and world with their work and brio and warm good humor providing day-to-day support and counseling for authors (a lot of counseling) in a blistering-paced, internal and external facing (internal = editors = suspicious, external = agents = sometimes mean though they will describe their behavior as outcome directed), detail-oriented (seat 2A not 12A), data-driven (blah blah blah) environment working with dying legacy media professionals, social media pioneers, brand ambassadors (FML), booksellers (️), and other half-crazed publishing desperados.

The whole posting is like this, adding that "The job is a grind. No one is capable of doing it for very long," and "As a publicist, editors will complain to you about the New York Times (what the f*ck are they doing over there?) and then become agitated and disgruntled and dismayed and threatening when one of their books is overlooked by that outlet." 

Here's the thing about this job posting: it's not creative.

Oh, it's creative in the sense that it's not like the usual job postings. Here's some information from a job posting for an Advertising and Promotions Assistant at Penguin Random House. These are qualifications they are looking for:

  • Genuine interest in book publishing and campaign analytics
  • Excellent organizational skills and strong attention to detail
  • Proven ability to prioritize and meet deadlines in a fast-paced environment
  • Strong follow up skills
  • Ability to work well under pressure

I have to think that Bogaards' description is a more accurate reflection of what the job is actually like. And that's what we need.

We spend so much time trying to make jobs look good that we forget to post what they are really like. We manipulate language in an effort to check off boxes and get our keywords right (SEO matters to hiring managers and recruiters as well). But what we do is creatively take out the actual description.

Let's stop being so darn creative and be honest. "You'll spend most of your time in meetings," and "while your job is X, you'll find yourself doing a lot of  Y." These things are easy to put together if you ask the person who currently does the job to write down what they actually do every day. What are the ups and downs? What are the things that drive you crazy?

Bogaards' says no one lasts long in this job. Does this mean it won't be filled? I mean, with all this honesty who would take it? Well, I suspect a lot of people because of this other dose of honesty:

Generally, the Publicist can expect career advancement provided they do their job without committing actionable offenses on social media or installing a joy button under the desk in their office or threatening to kill someone because they wrote a bad review (editors do this all the time. First, they threaten you. Then they threaten the BRE. Then they write a drunken email to the reviewer). Do not be led by their bad example.

I once had a job interview where the hiring manager said to me that her boss was a nightmare and would yell and scream for no reason. She went on to clarify that she would try to protect me, but couldn't guarantee it, but in exchange for the rotten boss, the pay was awesome. I took that job, and it was one of the best decisions of my life. Honesty for the win.

Let's put aside creativity in job postings and try some honest descriptions of what the job is really like, and you'll find it easier to find a match. Everyone who reads Bogaards' description and applies knows precisely what they are getting into. And that is a great thing.

Published on: Apr 6, 2018