Tell me how your company’s opportunity is different

Why do you waste your time looking the same?

But, our company has a yellow door! It’s unique. Really!

I never spent much time in my 1st act career looking at job listings. As you may have read in my past stories, I don’t believe in applying for jobs through the typical process. All of my corporate jobs came through entirely different channels. The best ones? The hiring manager contacted me and said that he or she wanted to hire me. That works exceedingly well, as you might imagine.

But now that I often help my clients find, evaluate, and interview for new jobs, I’m seeing a lot of career pages and listings. Wow! They all start to look the same.

It’s kind of pathetic. For example, the market for designers and engineers is very tight in Silicon Valley. If a “me too” job listing thrown up with three pages of bullet point requirements is the best you can do, you’re in trouble.


All of these things are just like the others

Sing it with me… This is a question for all of you hiring managers and recruiters out there:

Why does your job look like every other job?

I want you to guess which company this is. Can you tell from the role description?

  • Demonstrate a passion for web and mobile design, user research, persona creation, and using new tech.
  • Demonstrate a track record of delivering your design work on time, exceeding requirements, with great craftsmanship.
  • Be the leader on any project in which you are involved.
  • You are a key person in strategic planning and making recommendations from a usability and user experience perspective.
  • Mentor your colleagues.
  • You need to be a “people person”.
  • You need excellent communication skills, the ability to support large cross-functional teams, and have a friendly personality.
  • Own the solution and deliver a win for your client, our team, and yourself!

This looks like 99.9% of the other design job listings I’ve read. I know that there is a standard pattern for job descriptions for various types of roles. You think that you have to describe your open design position the same way you described the last design position. You think that you have to list the requirements for your product management position the same way your competitor does.


Here’s a radical idea

I know this is crazy, but remember that your job listing isn’t the final stop for interviewing and hiring. It is simply a lead generation tool to capture the attention of potential candidates. You don’t need a laundry list of vanilla requirements. Be smart, work hard, deliver quality, care about the customer, be a team player! Blah, blah, blah.

What if you left out all of the basic crap that we all assume is part of that type of role? Don’t tell us anything that isn’t a surprise. If you have some showstopper requirements, list them of course (e.g., this role must have 15 years of experience with iOS design and development). But, for the rest of the listing simply describe why your company, your team, the role, and the opportunity are truly unique and exciting.

But, again, your unique description must be unique. Every company claims that they:

  • Offer an uncommon opportunity to build a thriving career
  • Have a team of talented employees
  • Have tech at the heart of what they do
  • Work with partners around the world
  • Celebrate teamwork
  • Demand excellence
  • Have a passion to make a difference in the lives of people around the world

We get it. You’re great. But, how are you different? Why should I want to work at your company vs. every other company that claims to be just as great as you are? Why should I care about your product? How will my role be special and different from every other company offering the same role? Why should I dedicate the next few years of my life to you?

I can get a paycheck anywhere. But, I can’t create a meaningful and fulfilling career anywhere. Show me how that will happen with you.


Stand for something and stand out

I haven’t written many stories for hiring managers and employers, but I kept seeing so many mistakes in the hunt for talent that I had to say something. I know that it is hard to find great people. It’s even harder to retain them. Someone is going to come along and offer more money, make a compelling pitch, and promise your employee a better life if they leave you and join them.

How will you find and retain the best people? It starts with this initial job description. Remember, you just want to catch their eye and have them say:

Wow, that’s different. No one talks like they do. They aren’t playing the same old game of ‘hunt for the unicorn employee.’

But, just as I’ve suggested for job seekers, you need to play the whole recruiting game differently too. The job listing isn’t your most effective channel. You need to come in warm. Don’t just throw a listing up on a dozen sites and wait for the magic to happen. Don’t just hire the usual recruiter who spams people on Linkedin.

Work with someone who knows how to build relationships and gain the respect of the best talent. I’ve had the good fortune to work with very talented recruiters and headhunters who do this. I can count them on one hand. They are rare, but exceedingly valuable. They find out who the best people are, and the best people know and trust them.

Develop real relationships, not vanilla job listings.

I don’t work with many companies, because very few take the time to get this right. But, if you’re interested and would like to learn more, contact me.

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