The Best Way to Attract the Worst Candidates

Most job descriptions suck.

job-description-jeff-hymanI mean they’re truly awful. (In most cases, they actually drive away the best candidates.)

When it comes to hiring new employees, most execs craft and publicize job descriptions that highlight the specific requirements they’re looking for in potential candidates.

Instead of creating a compelling ad to attract the best people.

Let’s face it… most job descriptions put candidates to sleep before reaching the end.

They’re focused on what the employer needs, but not what they can provide to a Rockstar candidate. They read as if they were drafted by a humorless attorney.

With unemployment at a 50-year low, that won’t cut it.

You’ll need to poach talent already in positions they find satisfying. To do so, you need to create a compelling job value proposition to entice them to even consider making a move.

And it’s not about the almighty dollar.

In 25 years of recruiting, I’ve found that the best candidates seek thee things when first considering a new employer:

  • An understanding of the your company’s culture
  • Insight into what it’s really like to work there at your place
  • Some personal connection to your brand (even if you make and sell shower curtain rods)

If a Rockstar candidate is already fairly happy in her current role, you’ll need to use a Job Invitation to communicate how your company contributes to her living a better life, even outside of work.

With this in mind, your Job Invitation must speak to the entire person, not just the candidate for the job at hand.

Before outlining the major differences between a job description and a job invitation, it’s important to understand that even small distinctions can dramatically impact the quality of candidates funneling into your pipeline.

A strong job invitation screams:

“You’re going to love it here! You’re going to do the best work of your life! You’re going to have an opportunity to do things you care about! You’re going to be challenged!”

Because of this, you’ll attract people who are passionate about your company and role—not just people looking for any job that will help them pay their rent this month.

The difference between a job description and Job Invitation is subtle but vital.

At their most basic, job descriptions are concerned with stringent requirements. They list out a certain level of education the candidate must have, years of experience, and so on. In many cases, the combination of all these things is a Catch-22 for those coming from other industries or fresh out of college who simply haven’t had the time or opportunity to accomplish all of these things.

Studies have shown that most candidates (particularly women) lacking an advertised requirement will simply not apply for the job. It is a shame to miss out on people that could be Rockstars in your company, just because they don’t hold a degree in an arbitrary subject.

Remember to focus on things that are actually predictive of success. And education isn’t one of them. Remember: Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates built world-changing companies even without a college diploma.

Here’s the thing: a Job Invitation isn’t always a public job posting (though it certainly can be.)

Since many Rockstars are currently working, your Job Invitation must make it clear that the conversation will be confidential.

Because of this, it’s much more than a boring job description that prompts candidates to get in touch via an “Apply” button (“Let’s Talk” has a much better ring to it.)

And unlike a job description, a Job Invitation is two-sided. It makes sure to detail necessary elements from a candidate for a given role, but it primarily focuses on what your company can provide to the candidate.

Challenge, career path, and the like.

With this in mind, you’ll need to communicate each compelling reason someone might want the role. Be sure to list out things like equity, career trajectory, your CEO’s track record, the ability to work for a great manager, unique aspects of the culture, or the fact that it’s a high-growth industry.

Here are a few additional components that a Job Invitation should contain:

  • Be clear about your company’s identity and what it’s truly like to work there.
  • Ask your current Rockstars to help create a compelling message. Why did you join us? Why do you stay? What’s the most unique part of working here? How would you describe the experience?
  • Hire a copywriter, engage your head of Marketing, and include links to videos of current Rockstars sharing their experience to add color to your Job Invitation.
  • Give the position a creative title. Rockstars want a title that reflects the importance of their work.
  • Make the “Careers” section of your website engaging. It should tell the story of who you are and what people can expect if they join your team.

A job description asks, “What must the candidate offer the company?” while a Job Invitation builds on that, adding, “What does the company offer the candidate?”

It’s important to create a thorough Job Invitation, as you’ll refer to it throughout the entire recruiting process: from job posts to phone screens, then interviewing and making an offer.

It’s worth investing the time. If you need an amazing copywriter to craft your Job Invitations, let me know and I’ll hook you up.

Jeff Hyman

Jeff Hyman

Jeff Hyman launched his recruiting career at Heidrick & Struggles and Spencer Stuart, the preeminent global executive search firms. Today, he’s Chief Talent Officer at Chicago-based Strong Suit Executive Search. Along the way, Jeff created four companies, backed by $50 million in venture capital. He currently teaches the MBA course about recruiting at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and hosts the five-star Strong Suit Podcast. Jeff has been featured by Inc., Fortune, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Bloomberg, and other media outlets. He holds a master’s degree from Kellogg School of Management and a bachelor’s degree from The Wharton School.

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