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!


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.

American Hiring Practices

American Hiring Practices

The Problem

Companies have become reliant on the Field of Dreams idea, “If you build it, they will come.”  What do I mean by that?  I’m saying the ideology of the candidate doing all the initial work is wrong.  That’s 20th Century thinking and unsustainable for modern business.

Using generic write ups for job descriptions that look like someone robbed Wikipedia at gun point isn’t winning your company any awards.  With generic job posting, then the hot mess of copy/paste onto job boards, you’re effectively turning off everyone who isn’t desperate for ‘anything’ and willing to be strung along. Thus, killing your real potential candidates. 

Don’t use a generic posting.  Whoever started this needs to be given a stern talking to.  If your company isn’t going for vanilla, don’t post job ads that read like the company is where careers go to die.  You are looking to a person, so write to that person.

What the Hiring Culture has Become

I like to say that the hiring culture in the United States has become a gauntlet run.  You don’t know what to expect, who the contenders are, or whether you’ll make it.  You just know that is starts with a Guillotine and ends with a Catherine Wheel, and inside is an unknown maze.  If you make it through the instant disqualifiers, your prize is there for the taking.

Harsh?  That’s the reality for Americans looking for work with employers across the Nation. 

Candidates consider rewriting their resume seven different ways a time waste.  Why would this even be a thing?  Think about what your presenting as your initial introduction to an employee that’s going to do amazing stuff for you.  You really want to start out on the ‘busy work’ with an application process more complicated than getting a job at NASA?  Don’t believe me?  LinkedIn is a hotbed of candidates with tales of whoa about your company and its sad hiring practice.  That’s just the start of the mess that’s coupled with applicant tracking systems (ATS) and HR managers as a double whammy stage gate, creates the gauntlet.

Are You the Gatekeeper?

The HR Manager isn’t Zuul, Gatekeeper of Gozer.  Why are you treating them as such?  Your HR manager is far more effective with your hiring manager and provide them information and being in on interviews as extra ears and eyes for the team.  Otherwise, a candidate has no successful means to navigate without an insider guiding them every step of the way.   Candidates will be working with a team, the people they need to be referred to is that team.

Now I’ve been on both sides of this coin.  I’ve been the hiring manager and the candidate.  I’ve worked with recruiters and I’ve bypassed them all together.  I can also tell you that I’ve been successfully building, managing, and leading crews all over the world and there’s not a lot of guess work on what’s worked and what hasn’t.  Nineteen years of managing people give you a little bit of perspective on those types of things.

While that’s all pretty common sense, this isn’t being done.  That leads us to discussing a much-needed paradigm shift in hiring practices.  While it’s true you can keep ‘doing things the way you’ve always done them’, the competition and 21st century are changing the game.

The Fix

The start of the shift is recognition of poor practices.  The next step is to move away from passive practices and stage gated systems that don’t immediately involve a team knowledgeable in the positions you are recruiting.  Creating a strategy for a modern marketing stylize recruiting methodology will help build a better system. 

Whoa, what does that mean?  That means actively searching for the right people using every tool available to you.  Beyond that, you need to embrace change of the hiring system like you did when you threw out the old fax machine… you did throw out the old fax machine, right? 

We’re here to guide companies into creating better strategy for their business.  It helps we’ve done it a few times.

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.