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I wouldn’t apply, and here’s why…

Earlier this week, I wrote about beta testing your job descriptions – essentially asking representative folks, “Would you apply to this job?”

I suspect many people read that and shook their head, saying something like “We’re in such a hurry to hire, we can’t afford to waste time on extras like this. It’s not like we’re not getting applicants…”

So here are some of the feedback bits I’ve gotten over the past few years when I did this exercise:

We’d deliberately left out a “X years’ experience” bullet point because I firmly believe that some people in some environments learn more in one year than others do in five. “I wouldn’t apply because I don’t see anything about how much experience, so it’s probably a very junior role.”

How’d we fix it? We went wordy to specify experience but also give a clue about how we think about it: Have designed multiple products that lots of people use and love (depending on the size and type of companies you’ve worked at in the past, that could translate to anywhere from 2-5+ years’ experience)

A bullet point emphasizing our focus on rapid iteration. “I wouldn’t apply because whenever I see ‘fast’, I think ‘sweatshop’.

How’d we fix it? We put some context around the ‘fast’ — And the way Yammer works—fast, data-informed, centered around customer needs… and also added a final sentence — We believe in sane work hours, using our vacation time…

We honestly don’t care what titles people prefer, so we had an introductory sentence that said we were looking for ‘product designer, interaction designer, visual designer’. It was meant to convey that we aren’t bound by strict job roles. “I wouldn’t apply because it sounds like this company might not know the difference between these disciplines. Which probably means they’d try to hire one overworked person to do everything.”

How’d we fix it? We tried to clarify that we were interested in talking with all kinds of designers, not that we wanted all the skills in one unicorn package: Visual designers, interaction designers, and product designers. If you are any or all of those things, we’d love to hear from you.

A bullet point listing the tools we use (i.e. Photoshop, InDesign, OmniGraffle). It was meant to convey that we don’t care what tool you use as long as you get the job done. “I wouldn’t apply because I don’t know all these design tools.”

How’d we fix it? We took it out. Instead of specifying our tool-agnostic stance, we opted to use that room on more general philosophy: At Yammer, we do that by hiring a diversity of smart people and trusting them…

A bullet point about questioning / dissenting (because we value people who are willing to share their perspectives). “I wouldn’t apply because this sounds really aggressive and I don’t want to work somewhere really aggressive.”

How’d we fix it? We realized that we were inadvertently signaling for the wrong traits. We didn’t need loud people, we needed people who were curious and who communicated well. So we made two separate bullet points: Love to ask “Why?” and enjoy the problem-solving aspects of design and Can explain the reasons and thought process behind their design decisions

Seemingly small changes like these make a huge difference in the caliber — and diversity — of applicants who show up. It’s worth the time!

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