A thought on job ads

If I ever post a handful of Tweets on one topic I feel they should have been a blog post. You remember blog posts. So, a thought on job ads.

I occasionally receive emails from recruiters who have “viewed your page on Github”, or “reviewed your LinkedIn profile”, or whatever. The jobs always sound very dull. Most jobs probably are dull. But these supposedly enticing descriptions are unnecessarily dull. They’re always blandly generic.

This is mainly because recruiters anonymise the company they’re recruiting for, withholding any identifying information. Presumably because they don’t want you applying directly to the company and denying the recruiter their percentage. But making something sound as un-special as possible seems a terrible way to sell it.

(An aside: I’m very picky. There are, of course, many people who will apply for any job that sounds remotely like they have a chance of getting it. And the exact language used in the ad probably isn’t high on their list of priorities. But, while I’ve been sort-of-looking for a proper job for a long time, years of freelancing tells me I can make an interesting living without one. And I can barely imagine working in one company for years any more. So I’m not desperate for any job right now. I’m job-curious.)

Occasionally I go and look through job ads on the web and those that are most appealing are those that appear to be written by someone interested in finding the right person for their own team. They don’t go over the top with buzzwords and making the place sound AMAZING. They sound human. They try to convey a sense of what the company is like as a place to work, and what the role would be like, both initially and in the longer term.

This is important to me because, once past the bullet-points of required and desirable skills, I want to imagine whether I’ll fit in, and whether I’ll like being there and doing the job a couple of years in the future. Does this sound like someone I want to work with/for? Beyond the technologies, does it sound like the kind of work I can do and will want to do every day? Is the company my ideal balance of informal but without the worst excesses of start-up-world? Is it exactly the right place for this special snowflake?

Writing appealing job ads must be difficult. And that’s if you’re part of the company and trying to attract people to you. If you’re a third-party recruiter who’s dashing out loads of these things for clients, and anonymising them, it’s easy to see why the emails aren’t appealing. How can I possibly get a feel for this “innovative Fintech start up” or that “multi award winning agency” when I have nothing specific to go on?

I guess there’s a level of specialised, high-level recruiter that doesn’t work like this. (“Headhunters”? I guess that’s the thing?) And that I shouldn’t be surprised these out-of-the-blue emails are as unappealing as generic spam. But it seems like a waste of everyone’s time.

(This blog post is based on a Twitter conversation with @ClareBurr.)

Commenting is disabled on posts once they’re 30 days old.

7 Mar 2016 at Twitter

  • 5:39pm: “Actually, the clocktower is called Big Ben’s Monster.”
  • 11:44am: @r4isstatic I’m sure :) It seems amazing anyone finds it a good way of hiring. But I guess there are no good ways, so they try anything.
  • 10:54am: Following previous Tweet(s) I wrote a blog post about recruiters’ job ad emails: gyford.com/phil/writing/2…
  • 9:55am: @ClareBurr Yeah - the urge to make it sound AMAZING can make people write like an advert rather than just be human.
  • 9:53am: @ClareBurr Good luck (genuinely, not sarcastically) :)
  • 9:52am: @ClareBurr I guess, as well as bullet points, I want a *feel* for the place & people… which an anonymous, recruiter-written ad rarely has.
  • 9:51am: @ClareBurr …it’s little things that make a position/place appealing. Some times it’s simply the tone/language of the ad feeling right.
  • 9:50am: @ClareBurr It’d help. Ads must be tough generally - so much of the language is very similar for every ad, and so if one is able to be picky…
  • 9:46am: @ClareBurr As much info as you get in a normal ad on the web, but I assume recruiters don’t want to be merely a conduit for job ads!
  • 9:35am: Another problem with recruiter emails is the companies and jobs are so anonymised there’s nothing interesting or special about them.
  • 9:21am: @DiscerningBrute My pleasure!

7 Mar 2016 in Links