Anybody who has ever posted a job ad online knows the frustration: hundreds of resumes, yet only a precious few worth consideration. To amplify the problem, the coveted talent behind those worthy few is inevitably off the market by the time your umpteenth call triggers a ringtone instead of a voice mail. The money wasted buying ad space and time lost sifting through second-rate resumes is nothing short of maddening.
So why don't “quality” candidates ever respond to your job ads?
Because you’re posting the wrong content – that’s why. Many people don’t realize this, but there’s a distinct difference between a job description
and a job ad
. A job description is a business document created for internal use (i.e., candidate assessment, legal compliance, performance reviews, etc). Conversely, a job ad is marketing collateral used to attract applicants to a job opportunity.
The problem is that everybody is posting job descriptions and nobody is posting job ads. That’s why cyberspace abounds with dull job requirements and is devoid of compelling job opportunities. Is it any wonder the response rate from “quality” candidates is so dismal? It’s like a business trying to attract customers with its market analysis instead of with a demographically targeted and creative advertising campaign. How effective would that be?
Here are the three major drawbacks of posting job descriptions instead of job ads:
The Dreaded Laundry List
Job descriptions read like an arduous laundry list for what employers want and say nothing at all about what career-minded individuals want. The high caliber of talent you want to hire is not inspired by boilerplate job descriptions and endless bullet points of must-have requirements. While requirements are an essential component of a job description, they have no place in a job ad. I have covered this topic in great depth in my post aptly titled: Nix the Laundry List: Job Descriptions That Kill
A Bland Format
The format of a traditional job description doesn’t pique the curiosity of passive candidates. The most important decision-making criteria to them are nonexistent or only vaguely hinted at. It requires a herculean effort in reading between the lines to speculate how having the job might translate into a career upgrade. Because a job description is a business document intended for internal use, its format obscures the value proposition inherent in the opportunity. In short, a job description masquerading as a job ad speaks to the wrong audience.
The Wrong Audience
Remember, a job description is a business document. It doesn't have any “curb appeal” for your career-minded target demographic. It doesn't describe what these individuals care about most: what your opportunity has to offer them
. During the recruiting outreach stage, you're the seller
(and usually a desperate one at that); and the individuals you seek are the buyers
Sellers don’t make demands on buyers; they pitch the value of what they have to offer. They tout how what they have to sell (a job) will benefit the buyer (a career advancement).
It's a candidate's market and always has been for top talent. So your job ad must appeal to their (the buyer’s) emotions. Top performers already have a job; they don't need
a new one. So the onus is on you — the seller — to make them want
a new one — yours! If you succeed, the table turns; they become the seller and you become the buyer. If you don't, your job ad will only attract desperate applicants who only care about one thing — a paycheck!
As with any well-conceived marketing strategy, you have to understand the buying patterns of the demographic you’re trying to influence. With job advertising, you want your offer to appeal to top performers. Luckily, what top performers want is predictable — it’s etched in stone. Every top performer looks for the following criteria in a job opportunity — otherwise you are not talking to a top performer:
They want a Challenge
They want Important
They want major Responsibility
They want a roadmap for Success
They want Recognition
They want to join a talented Team
They want to join an excellent Organization
How many job ads have you seen lately that represent an abridged version of this criteria? Probably not many!
Next up, in my third and final part of this “job ads that kill” series I will walk you through the process of transforming a dull job description in a compelling job ad that elicits a response from QUALITY candidates.