Job Postings That Seduce Top Talent

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Why are these rules so important? Because passive, high caliber candidates are different from everyone else in the workforce. They are almost always employed. In order to recruit them, therefore, you have to convince them to do the one thing we humans most hate to do: change. Your ad has to convince them to go from the devil they know – their current employer, boss and commute – to the devil they don’t know – a new employer, a different boss and an unfamiliar commute.

Rule #1: Turn Titles into Magnets

Job postings are not position descriptions; they are electronic sales brochures. Their purpose is to sell top candidates on the opportunity inherent in an opening. That can’t happen, however, unless they are attracted to an opening and intrigued enough to pause and read it. So, give your job posting titles a magnetic pull by using the three most important triggers to action among passive prospects, separating each with a dash:
• Location – top talent want to work where they live so begin the title with the postal code abbreviation (e.g., CT) for the state in which the opening is located:
• Skill – top talent want to see themselves in the job, not some HR job title (e.g., Programmer III) so next add the skill (e.g., C++ Programmer) they use to describe the work they do;
• Sizzle – top talent are herd animals so ask the top performers in your organization why they came to work there and use that factor as the concluding element in your title.

So, here’s how a good title might look: CT – C++ Programmer – Great team with a unique project

Rule #2: Develop Content for Them, Not You

Requirements and responsibilities are words only recruiters could love. They say absolutely nothing important to top talent. Those prospects are interested in the same information, but they want it presented in a way that indicates “what’s in it for them.”

So, describe your opening by answering five questions:

  • What will they get to do?
    What will they get to learn?
    What will they get to accomplish?
    With whom will they get to work?
    How will they be recognized and rewarded?

Rule #3: Sell First, Explain Later

Passive candidates have the attention span of a gnat, so it’s critical that you lead with your strength when composing your ad. In effect, you have to convince them to read on before you can convince them your opening is right for them. So, begin every job posting with an enticement – a hard-hitting summary of why the position is a rare and extraordinary opportunity. First, tell them why it’s a dream job with a dream employer and then provide the details of “what’s in it for them.”

Rule #4: Use a Format That Gnats Would Like

Given the short attention span of passive candidates, you have to make your message accessible in the blink of an eye. These candidates aren’t looking for a job so they simply aren’t going to plow through the thick, pithy paragraphs of a typical job posting. The most they will do is scan your content so make it easy for them to do so. Replace your prose with headlines and bullets, so they can quickly get an accurate picture of the position and decide if it’s right for them.

Rule #5: Get Them to Act Even if They Don’t Apply

Writing a job posting for passive, high caliber candidates is an investment of your time and talent, so make sure you derive a meaningful return on that effort. The optimal response, of course, is an application, but if that doesn’t happen, make sure you have a fallback. Offer them two additional ways to act on your opportunity: give them the ability to refer the opening to a friend or colleague (because top talent know other top talent) and invite them to join your network of contacts so you can keep them informed of other openings in the future.

Unfortunately, most job postings today are a modern medical miracle. They are a cure for insomnia in 500 words or less. To avoid that outcome, write your job postings using the five rules for seducing top talent. They’ll be much more likely to fall for your opening if you do.

Thanks for reading, Peter Weddle

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