HRM looks at the importance of authentic job ads and listings in attracting the right candidate.
In a recent job listing gaffe, Time Out New York posted the rationale for extra headcount on Indeed rather than the job ad itself. Expressing worry that stressed out staffer Melissa risked burnout if she didn’t receive much needed help, the “ad” offered candidates unlikely insight into an overstretched, underpaid resource pool.
Time Out’s faux pas highlights the issue of how much is too much information when it comes to job listings. While we can all agree that this was an unfortunate overshare, the opposite approach is also ineffective.
Vague listings that use schmoozy, upbeat language for mass appeal aren’t likely to attract the right applicants. In his book What if common sense was common business practice, Rex Conner says “fuzzy” communication in job listings such as “self starter”, “team player” and “three years’ experience” should be avoided at all costs. “Three years of experience doing what?” asks Conner. “This kind of communication is problematic because it can be interpreted differently by different people.” Along with fuzzy language, cringey buzzwords are also a no no. Think “guru”, “whizz” and “rockstar”.
While being direct is important, it doesn’t mean littering your listing with technical jargon either. Evidence shows that phrases like “KPIs,” “SLAs,” “compliance” and “procurement” alienate millennial candidates by making them feel unknowledgeable and inexperienced.
Finding the right candidate requires being open about the demands of the job and the skill level required. What some will find difficult in terms of workload and tasks, others will not. If they are not immediately upfront, employers should at least be transparent about the parameters of the position at the interview stage.
What about pay?
Another area employers should be transparent about is the salary range.
“How can you crow about your team, talk about the importance of talent or make any statements at all about your company’s appreciation for people, when you knowingly underpay anyone who doesn’t know what their skills are worth?” asks recruitment expert Liz Ryan in a piece for Forbes.
What does authentic language in a job ad look like?
If you’re tempted to use words like “team player,” it’s important to define what that means to your organisation. “List the skills you observe when someone is being a team player, for example” ‘Shows up to meeting on time’, ‘Volunteers for projects’ or ‘Reviews team member work’,” says Conner.
Rather than listing job duties that the employee will be trained to do, only include the prerequisites. Including both is likely to overwhelm candidates. Conner recommends “limiting the content to the three to four most essential duties and qualifications that summarise the role and desired experience.”
In terms of disclosing salary, Ryan thinks a range, even if it’s wide, is necessary. She says HR should be able to have the honest conversation with a candidate about why they aren’t getting the top salary advertised for a role because, while valued, they aren’t at that stage of their career yet.