Writing Job Ads

Writing Job Ads

The other day I wandered into a debate about resume writing.  It was mostly about copy/pasting job ads as the resume.  Since I’ve really been on a roll with discussing hiring, I figured one more blog post won’t kill anyone.

Good Vs. Bad Writing

Are you trying to hire the person for the job you need done?  I’m going to throw out an idea that simply isn’t popular.  At least, not on LinkedIn. 

Are you ready?

You are hiring an individual. 

That person has a life, outside interests, and their own ideas about how the world works.  Over the years of being job seeker, hiring manager, and now a consultant, what’s become clear this isn’t how candidates are approached.  Anyone who’s looking for a job knows this.  From the generic job ads that don’t say anything about the role, to the 6 – 10 seconds a resume is scanned by a hiring gatekeeper, no one is approaching hiring as though there is a person that wrote the resume.

It’s become big business to hire % $ bullet points.

If you don’t believe me, run a search on LinkedIn for people who are ‘Project Manager’.  Then run the same search for job ads.  It’s all the same generic bullet points.  This is the sound bite that individuals have been reduced to.  

Job seeker forums are lit up with people looking for the secret to making it passed the hurdles.  The desperate outnumber the not so desperate.  On the exact same forums, recruiters offer sage advice on what not to do when looking for work. 

Yet the silence is deafening from companies that can resolve hiring problems.

Hiring is the crux of creating a good team.  The half-way approach of generic job descriptions, ATS, and skimmed resume reading are not cutting it.  While tech is approaching this in some fascinating ways; there’s still something to be said about old-fashioned.

Approach is Everything

My approach is very simple.  In fact, you might not believe how easy/hard it is.  And I’ve personally built dozens of teams for everyone from small businesses to corporations this way. 

I write to the person I’m looking for.

That’s it.  You can now pay me a kazillions of dollars for my sage wisdom gleaned from 1000 years as a hiring manager!

Seriously. 

That’s really it. That’s my starting point.

I write a job ad to speak to the person I am looking for.  I’m not copying and pasting an Indeed article.  I’m not using generalizations.  I’m not looking for $ % bullet points.  I’m looking for an individual with skills, brains, savvy, and sparkle.   

When you are looking for someone specific, you describe that person in detail.  When they see the notice, they’ll know it’s them, because it’s like looking into a text-based mirror.

Effective Communication is Key

All right, it’s not that simple, there’s more to it than just that.  I need to know what my areas of weakness are.  I must know what my budget is and then I tell what it is.  You wouldn’t believe it, but people value transparency!  There’s no guessing involved as to how much someone my want and they know the limit.  I also involve the crew in finding the right person.  They’ll be working with them, they need to have some input in it.  When it’s time to conduct interviews with the few people that apply, the team is right there.  Please note, I said few people, not thousands of people.  Thousands of people will not be interested in a detailed job ad that doesn’t speak to them.

Writing is an amazing tool if you use it the right way.  Remember what English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton famously said, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”  When you write to an individual you will get a response from that individual. 

Providing job descriptions that appeal to the right person isn’t easy.  It needs to be specific, clear, concise, and tailored to the right person.  Just like you expect the right person to be specific, clear, concise, and tailor their resume to your writing.  They’ll write back to you in a way that is meaningful.  How do I know this?  Because I tell them how to apply to me in a direct and specific way. 

Obviously, this isn’t everything.  But, it’s a pretty big start in finding the right ‘someone’.  While it’s low tech, it’s personal.  You aren’t looking for just bullet points or carbon copies.  You’re looking for people.  Write to them and let them know what you are looking for.


Anna Pilette is a geophysicist and technologist turned digital consultant.  Anna is a Cofounder of Atomic Dumpling.  You can contact her at anna@atomicdumpling.com.

Stories Need Change

Stories Need Change

Last time, I was talking about the art of the story and how it can draw someone in and form a connection. This week I want to point out that sometimes the story needs to change.

Pop Culture & Franchising

Saint’s Row is a satire game (Koch Media/Deep Silver).

It takes its cues from popular culture. It is irreverent, crass, smart and often bizarre. The first game out though was a very different creature. You as the protagonist didn’t even talk, something which all the later games mock themselves for. It was sold as something like Grand Theft Auto (GTA). Sadly, it was no GTA, since Rockstar had that niche firmly mastered and crowned king of the arena.

So, what do you do when you have a possible franchise that can’t compete?

You change.

This is what hold so many people back in everything from personal to professional life. Change is scary. Change is a risk. You could fail. Here’s the thing though. How boring is it to just tread water forever? In all things, you must change or die. Now I’m not suggesting that you do a complete 180 or that you should radically alter things all the time. No, I’m saying change is good, sometimes you need a little, sometimes you need massive amounts. It brings new life to your world and opens new doors. Yeah ice cream is scrumptious, but not for every meal.

Creative Context in Video Games

How does ice cream concern Saint’s Row?  It doesn’t literally. Metaphorically though, Saint’s Row stopped serving you ice cream and hit you with pie. They saw that they were not going to go anywhere with the original model, so they changed and adapted.

This is a huge part of creativity. They took a risk and tested the waters in Saint’s Row 2 and it worked, so then they decided to really push the envelope in 3 and it was fantastic.

Now, even if you didn’t like the game, you could see how they branded themselves as a unique entity. They were not just another copy or want to be, they kind of created their own genre. This is because they stepped back, looked at what they had and instead of giving up, they invested. Which is part and parcel of being creative.

Even if you have a set style, you should grow with it. You can’t regurgitate the same thing over and over. For example, Tim Burton has a very singular look and feel.  He never wants to tell the same story.  His projects have his style, but each one is unique.

I will always remember the one art teacher who said (or plagiarized someone smarter), that a sign of a great artist is what they do with their mistakes. The great ones use them or learn from them. They don’t let them hold them back. Creativity is not always easy and there will be failures. Just last night I tried to be creative with some lemon bread, even the dog wouldn’t eat it and she eats cat poop. However, I will continue to bake and make everyone taste it, because the pistachio bread was fabulous. Motley tried to sample some more on her own, luckily tinfoil makes noise when kitty teeth are trying to pry it open.

In closing, after much rambling, what I am saying is be flexible, be aware, and don’t be satisfied with just treading water.

Change.


Leigh-Alexandra Jacob is a visual effects artist and creative director.  She’s the founder of Atomic Dumpling.  You can reach her at leigh@atomicdumpling.com.