Would you buy this car?
The Jeep Wrangler is a series of compact and mid-size (Wrangler Unlimited and Wrangler 2-door JL) four-wheel drive off-road SUVs, manufactured by Jeep since 1986, and currently in its fourth generation. The Wrangler JL, the most recent generation, was unveiled in late 2017 and is produced at Jeep’s Toledo Complex.The Wrangler is arguably an indirect progression from the World War II Jeep, through the CJ (Civilian Jeeps) produced by Willys, Kaiser-Jeep and American Motors Corporation (AMC) from the mid-1940s through 1980s. Although neither AMC nor Chrysler (after its purchase of AMC in 1987) have claimed that the Wrangler was a direct descendant of the original military model…
I wouldn’t buy this car. Not because there is anything inherently wrong with it, but because, based on this Wikipedia description, I don’t see any compelling reason to even consider this car.
Sadly, this is how we present the majority of jobs to the talent pool. At least Jeep has a bunch of marketing people who make it look and sound like the quality ride it is. Not so recruiters: many of them deal with database-generated job descriptions that basically have nothing at all to do with the role, but everything to do with having been approved for use sometime around when that Jeep was rolling off the line in 1987.
Case in point: One time I was hiring a content marketing manager. I went through the tedious online requisition system and when it was time to put in a job description, I was allowed only to choose from a dropdown of the existing approved descriptions.
Job Descriptions and Job Postings are Different
Apparently, we had never hired a content marketing manager before so I rang my recruiter and asked what to do. “Oh, just pick one that’s close; it takes months to get anything new approved.” I picked through dozens of marketing manager descriptions, each less relevant to the role than the last. I finally settled on a horrible generic description with an approved date of six years earlier (meaning it predated Facebook, LinkedIn and probably Xbox).
I naively believed someone would call me and we’d tweak the thing. No such luck. Two days later, to my horror, this six-year-old piece of rubbish was sprayed across the recruiting landscape. Its inaccurate content drove the keywords, the job boards, the applicant screening and the algorithm the automated system thingy used to decide which resumes to push through for my review. Needless to say I ended up with a pile of useless resumes while excellent candidates went elsewhere to work. I ended up recruiting someone through my network using a clandestine posting I wrote myself.
Even if that job description had been accurate and current it probably still would have missed the mark because, well, it’s a job description not a job posting. Job descriptions have their places but recruiting isn’t one of them because they don’t actually address the things candidates want to know. Things like:
- What is the workspace like?
- Will I be forced to eat slab cake twice a week?
- Who else works there?
- What are the conditions like?
- Do I have to stand all day?
- What kind of culture can I expect?
- Can I wear jeans?
- Is it loud?
- Is it an open office?
- Are there a lot of stairs?
- Is there a kitchen where I can explode an entire trout in the microwave and then walk away?
People want to know. That’s why the first place applicants go is to a review site like Glassdoor or Indeed. They’re not just looking for social proof; they’re looking for the qualitative data most job descriptions omit.
Job Postings Need to be More Visual
The other problem with job postings is that they’re all words. In case you missed the memo, people under about 40 years of age are much better with pictures. According to TechSmith, 64 percent of Millennials say they understand visual information much more easily than they do text, and almost as many (58%) remember it better.
Good job postings should focus on communicating culture, working conditions and employee experience, versus qualifications and skills. The more video you can use, the better. For example, your recruiting site should at least have some generic employer branding videos to showcase culture and leadership styles. I’ve been working with some clients lately to create video job postings for individual roles, which not only allows us to show the workplace, but we can include some peer testimonials.
Here are a few other thoughts about fixing terrible job postings:
- Separate job postings from job descriptions – the former is marketing; the latter is compliance
- Hire a writer to clean up your most frequently used postings and to write you some excellent generic introduction text
- Grab some testimonials from your employees to include in all your recruitment content
- Invest in visuals – photos, organization charts, videos, to show the workplace and the workforce
- Cut the length way, way back – if your posting is longer than a page, it’s boring
- For roles you fill a lot, consider doing a video version of the posting
Next time we will take a look at what to do with those awful reviews.