Aug 6, 2013

Employee-centric hiring notices

Many months ago, I was asked to draft a hiring notice for a position in my group. Now, I've been working in teams whose raison d'etre is 'innovation', so it is reasonable to assume that we not only do innovative things, but also are seen to be innovative (i.e. creative/different/novel/better/more effective) in everything we do.

I don't like most job postings, especially in the tech world - they are never candidate-centric. The average job ad will give you a dry list of expected skills and tell you something about the group looking to hire. They don't give you even a fraction of a hint as to what it would be like to work there, and why you would consider it worth your while in a life-changing way to work there.

They don't market the job in an engaging manner and they don't treat you as a human, or at least a human that thinks beyond keywords.

So I drafted what I thought was an engaging note, trying to succinctly describe what it would be like to come work for us, what someone could reasonably hope to achieve, and why someone should consider all this in the first place. Especially, since we were a off-beat team (or so I thought) that was both 'cool' (in theory) and 'challenging' (not being run-of-the-mill).

The ending of this story isn't hard to foresee: the notice went up to my supervisors who, in their wisdom, edited most of it out and in the end, we were left with a desiccated list of keywords. And yes, we did hire someone eventually (it's always hard to say if he was the best man for the post - time will tell), so it wasn't as if that was ineffective. But I thought we lost an opportunity to signal so many intangible attributes about who we are and what we do. Perhaps the people in charge of the notice didn't share those feelings with me.

A job notice is perhaps the first engagement that a candidate has with a hiring manager or a group or a company. First impressions are a great way to strike a chord. Don't lose that opportunity.


Vcat said...

Agree. I'm sometimes tasked with creating such posts, for very specific positions. They pass. :)

Siddharth said...

I get the feeling that at large companies (with the exception of Google, Amazon, Facebook and the likes) technical roles are not encouraged to be described as ones that require multi-faceted, polymaths who are not mere technicians but who live a life that is a continuum of work and pleasure; art and science, for fear that these sort of individuals won't be good at "getting the job done". This is sad because technology change agents generally are these dynamic characters and could be turned away from a drab job description.

On the other hand, I have come across extremely talented and innovative people who would not apply to Google or the likes because they feel intimidated by the job postings which sound like they need their applicants to be almost superhuman in talent :).

Siddharth said...

While on the topic of hiring, this is a pretty interesting technique:

George said...

all this and no screenshot or extract? All soda and no drink?

Unknown said...

Confidentiality prevents, alas.