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Would you apply to this job?

If you were selling a product and wanted customers to buy it, wouldn’t you invest some serious effort in marketing it? You’d want to clearly describe the value it provided, why it was better than competitive products, suggest who might benefit most from buying it.

Then why don’t we invest the same effort in writing job descriptions?

Most job descriptions are terrible.

I mean, really really terrible. Braggy claims that this company is the BEST company who only hires the BEST people, where you’ll work with the BEST people. Paragraphs of generic text which could apply to any of hundreds of companies.

This, because I’m pretty sure most hiring managers say, “Hmm, I need to hire a designer. I don’t know how to write a job description. I’m going to go look on this jobs site for whatever other companies put in their designer job req.” Unfortunately those other companies don’t know how to write a good job req, either.

You might think your job description is pretty okay. Here’s how to quickly validate that:

  1. Pick a couple of people on your current team and ask them, “Who is the best designer/engineer/product manager/etc. that you know personally, that doesn’t already work here?”
  2. Have them send a note to that friend saying “I’m not trying to recruit you*, I promise. Can I get your quick feedback? IF you were looking for a new opportunity and you saw THIS job description, would you consider applying? What bits of it would sound appealing / are there any bullet points that would make you hesitate?”
  3. Read their feedback and iterate accordingly.

* It’s always best to start with “I’m not trying to recruit you” because talented people are generally inundated with clumsy recruiter tactics.

Though, as a manager, it’s worth asking separately, “would you try to convince that person to come here?” If the person says ‘no’ or looks uncomfortable, you need to suck up that sinking feeling you just got and figure out why. Maybe it’s because their friend would never consider relocating, or because they’re a cofounder — or maybe it’s because your work environment isn’t something that employee can freely endorse. In which case, you have a bigger challenge ahead of you.

Next post: I Wouldn’t Apply… And Here’s Why

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