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Writing Creative Job Postings

Put Your Job Postings to Work for You

I am always telling people to think outside of the box when working through human resources issues. For some reason, we have gotten ourselves stuck in the box in several area, including job postings, which is no fun and not helpful to our organizations.

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I was reminded of this the other day when a colleague sent me a very creative job posting for an HR director. I found myself reading the ad and actually laughing out loud at my desk. Then, I thought to myself, “How often do you laugh at a job posting?” And then I thought, “Why not?”

I was also reminded of a session I went to at a local strategic HR conference in the Seattle area. The VP for Talent at Microsoft was speaking about recruiting and he said, “Your strategies need to be as varied as your candidates.” He said, “For example, one of the positions we have challenges hiring for is a data miner. So, when we are recruiting a really talented star we have Bill call them.” (If you live in Seattle, you only need Bill Gates' first name). He said, “It’s a small thing, but you wouldn’t believe the kind of impact it has.”

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We have to stop doing things the same old way and wanting different results. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? So, let me propose that as a first step you let your job postings do more for you. Put them to work and maybe you’ll catch the attention of talented, high performing individuals.

Writing Good Job Postings

When drafting your job postings think about how you can:

1. Let candidates know a bit about your culture. We talk about having qualified candidates who also fit the values and culture of the organization. Well, let’s tell them what the values and culture are. Don’t be afraid to be brutally honest. There is nothing wrong with painting a realistic picture of what it’s like to work at your organization. Here is a portion of the ad that I mentioned earlier:

“Accept this challenge and your dry cleaner must suffer, because we wear jeans pretty much daily, except in summer (yeah all 6 weeks of it) when corporate policy dictates shorts and flip-flops. But, wait, there is real work do be done.”

2. Talk about the challenges and the opportunities that exist. Again, going back to being brutally honest, why not tell candidates what the real deal is? If you are looking for someone who can work amidst chaos and without clear direction, why not say it? If you are looking for a candidate that can follow rules and put up with a long decision making process, say it. There is no value in hiding this information from a candidate until they find out once they are on the payroll.

Every work environment fits with a different personality type. Instead of relying on the interviewer to figure that out – let the candidates have the information up front and let them self select in, or out, based on what they know about themselves. You still have to do your part because a lot of people are looking for work and may not be as concerned with work environment, but it’s a start. Back to my favorite ad. Here is another portion:

“Must be able to work independently with minimal direction and supervision – ability to be proactive, prioritize work and handle multiple assignments simultaneously. We don’t micromanage, besides you’ll report to the CEO (that’s me) and I have attention deficit disorder so you can’t expect me to keep you on task, I have myself to worry about.”

3. Be honest about compensation. When I talk with graduating college students the number one question I get asked about is, “How do you answer questions about salary?” There are all sorts of theories about giving a high number or a small number. My answer is, “Always, tell the truth.”

I tell them, "Do your research, be realistic about your qualifications and then tell them what you think a fair salary is, always stating that the overall package is important to you. So, it would also be dependent on all the other conditions and benefits of the offer."

I’m asking employers to do the same. If you have a budget and there is no way that it can be exceeded, why do you post “Dependent on Experience/Qualifications?” First of all, that’s not really true. What if you have a Ph.D. apply for an entry-level job? Are you going to pay him/her for their qualifications? I don’t think so.

Post your salary range. Give people an idea of what the job pays. If you have unlimited budget and you are willing to pay for the experience and qualifications of your top candidate, then stick with DOE/Q; Otherwise let’s tell the truth.

I hope these suggestions get you thinking outside of the box, when writing job postings. These might not be the right strategies for your organization, but what is most important is that you find creative ways to solve problems and challenges in your organization. This can be done in a manner that saves you time and energy – even better.

My challenge to you is to do something different and see if it works. We’d love to hear from you. Post a comment here – or on our Linkedin Group: Compensation Today – HR Best Practices.


Stacey Carroll
Director of Customer Service and Education

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