Not long ago a friend of mine, who’s also a copywriter, sent me a job posting that had infuriated her.
It was for a writing position and included a list of appropriate qualifications like strong editing and writing skills for the organization’s website, promotional materials and advertising initiatives.
However, It also included a list of excessive qualifications like knowledge of Illustrator, Abode and other design tools.
Oh and production – you needed knowledge of production.
As a copywriter myself, I was offended as well. Did they not understand just how much skill, training and talent goes into engaging audiences? Did they not grasp just how much brand awareness and sales can increase from hiring an experienced copywriter?
In addition, did they really think that just anyone can do design? As someone who’s spent years in advertising, I can tell you that design isn’t just about adding nice colors here and there. It’s highly strategic. Ask a good designer why they chose certain elements and I guarantee they’ll give you a strong rationale behind every font and line.
Dear employers: there is no superman!
The job description my friend sent me was for one candidate, but it encompassed four jobs: copywriting, design, print production and administration.
In trying to find someone who can do it all, they likely turned off some real professionals and attracted “jack of all trades, masters of none”. That means they’d get one person to do everything not very well instead of getting key people to do everything very successfully.
Because I write LinkedIn profiles and provide consultations on how to market yourself, I see this mistake often. Sometimes candidates contact me because they’re desperately trying to find a way to respond to an ad that with no real hook or core priorities. Sometimes it’s an employer who has asked me to review their postings because they aren’t attracting the right candidates or, worse still, because they’ve had a series of bad hires that have cost them both financially and in terms of staff morale.
Not long ago, a reporter who was doing research on traditional versus contemporary job search methods, asked me to weigh in on mistakes employers make. This led me to compile my top four marketing tips for crafting a job posting:
1) Define your target
All good advertising is designed to appeal to one primary target group. This is an effective marketing basic. So, if what you’re looking for is a skilled designer, then keep your headline and ad focused on design.
That said, if you’re looking for someone with a broad range of skills then make sure your headline states that upfront.
For instance, in the case of someone who needs to know everything from design and copywriting to invoicing and filing, you might consider a headline that says “Marketing Support Staff”.
In addition, be sure that you understand the position you’re trying to fill. There are all kinds of lawyers, designers, writers, nurses, musicians etc. So be specific and attract the right type.
2) Understand your target
The reason why I revise LinkedIn profiles, but don’t write them from scratch, is because people know the ins and outs of their position better than I do. This is a fact that employers need to grasp too. Once they do, they’ll recognize the importance of truly understanding their target so that they can craft the ads in the most effective way.
I once helped a high-tech company revise their job postings. It was a well-funded start up, with an energetic entrepreneurial spirit, looking for people the world over who loved technology.
The problem was that the candidates they wanted – and how they addressed them – didn’t line up at all. The postings were dry. They positioned money and bonuses above emotional motivators (like a passion for all things high-tech and new). They also made the city sound uneventful even though they were hoping to get big talent to pack up and move there.
So, before helping them write the ad, I interviewed key members of their staff who were considered good examples of their ideal candidate. I learned what mattered to them most and then I revised their ads in a way that made the position and the city sound irresistible.
It’s surprising how many employers don’t truly understand the position, skill set and type of employee with whom they’re trying to engage. As I mentioned previously, one position can have a number of specialities. For instance, consider just how many types of lawyers there are!
3) Set realistic objectives
If you’re hiring someone who has spent years perfecting a specific craft, then don’t expect that employee to know a lot about everything else. If you’re hiring someone with a broad range of skills, then don’t expect them to have mastered specific ones.
On that note, do you really think someone with 2 or 3 years experience fits a job description with endless skills listed? That’s another unrealistic objective that I see far too often. I’ve also noticed numerous postings with the magical “7 years experience” which is has somehow become the equivalent of a senior position. In fact, generally, someone who’s been working for seven years is more in an intermediate range in terms of qualifications and interpersonal skills.
Keep this advice in mind when it comes to salaries too. Don’t hire someone at a low salary and then be surprised that they aren’t as qualified as you thought. Or, consider hiring for two positions, but on a part-time basis. That way you get expertise in two areas.
In other words, hire realistically and don’t set yourself – or them – up for failure. Keep in mind too that, if you hire a lot of juniors, then invest in mentors – even on a part-time basis (oh look…a good place to plug my monthly mentor service)!
4) Make the salary clear
Too many job postings neglect to mention salary range. Do you know what that says? That says you want the perfect candidate and then you’ll try to negotiate them down. That’s it. Everyone knows you have a range in mind. The only reason you’d withhold it, is because you’re trying to get everything you want at the lowest price.
True or not, that’s the message. Is that the way to begin a relationship?
Instead, provide some indication of the salary and, if you need be, add a qualifier like “dependent on level of experience”. At the very least make the level clear by saying what years of experience are required. If you want someone with two years, then someone with twenty won’t bother to apply.
Don’t begin a potential relationship with an “us against them” mentality.
A final note about engaging the “one”.
One job posting can elicit countless responses. The amount of time wasted on sifting through hundreds of unsuitable resumes is shocking when you consider the cost of that time. To top it off, companies then go through an inordinate number of hours wasted on interviews. A staggering amount time and money can be saved just by following these fundamental marketing principles or by hiring a professional writer to create the ad for you.
Yes, there I go plugging my copy and content writing services again.