Long ago I found out about the McFrank and Williams recruitment ad agency based in New York City. The image below caught my eye. While I preach and practice the idea of creating compelling advertising, whether it’s a job post, email, tweet, text, voicemail or video, these guys live it. Every day.
Creating irresistible jobs today is more important than ever before, especially since everyone now has access to the same sourcing tools. With this in mind, here’s my take on how to convert your boring jobs into career moves and your career moves into great advertising copy.
1. Work with the hiring manager to establish what makes the role unique
First, you’ll need to put the traditional skills and experience-infested job descriptions into the parking lot within moments of starting the intake meeting with the hiring manager.
Once done, ask the hiring manager to describe all of the improvements and changes the person taking the job will need to make during the first 6-12 months. Then find out why the job would appeal to a top person who’s not looking for another job and/or is likely doing similar work already. For example, on a search a few years ago for an HR VP in a less desirable location, the CEO indicated that the person would not only have a seat at the strategic table, but would often sit at the head of it.
It’s important to get both parts of the job right – the work itself and the primary appeal – or you can forget the idea of attracting a top person for the right reasons. However, with this type of performance-based job description and a compelling employee value proposition (EVP), you’re ready to create some great recruiting advertising copy.
2. Determine the intrinsic motivator for doing the job and tie it into your messaging
If you’re not sure what would motivate a person to naturally do the work required, ask someone doing it now.
For techies it’s likely related to pushing the envelope on some technology. For an operations person it could be turning around a business or function or leading the launch of a new critical product line. For those aspiring for business leadership roles it’s most likely involved with developing the strategy or building a team of outstanding professionals.
Whatever you come up with, this intrinsic motivator needs to be the theme of your messaging. For example, for a high-tech Silicon Valley company developing power management circuits, we emphasized the idea that for engineering spots their skills would be leading the effort to give smartphones a 2-day untethered life.
3. Link the job to the company mission, strategy or another important project
Employer branding doesn’t have much cachet when trying to fill senior staff and management positions. In these cases, job branding is a more effective approach. This involves tying the actual job to a specific company initiative or project.
For example, McFrank and Williams showed me a job posting they created for a cost accountant emphasizing how the person’s attention to detail was essential for the company to achieve its profit objectives. We helped a company hire a director of logistics focusing on the need for the person to break the supply chain bottleneck restricting sales growth.
Job branding like this elevates the importance of the job by linking it to a greater purpose. People often take jobs primarily because of these reasons even when doing similar but less important work.
4. Develop a creative and compelling title and first line for your job
Of course, no matter how important or intrinsically motivating the job, if the email or job posting is not read, you won’t attract better people. That’s why email subject lines and the first line of the copy need to instantly grab the person’s attention.
Job postings need to stand out in the same way. Here are some examples our clients used over the years with great success.
- Marketing Interns – Prepare White Papers in Any Color You Want. This simple change by a company that was previously seen as bureaucratic attracted more top marketing grad students then ever before.
- Flight Nurses – Helping Save Lives Every Day. The tagline added to the job title resulted in 14 strong applicants in the first week and four hires within three weeks. In three months of trying the original traditional post didn’t attract a single qualified candidate.
- Use Your CPA and See the World. The original post was infested with 75% international travel requirements and a laundry list of must-have prerequisites. It’s always better to attract the best rather than weed out the weak.
It’s pretty clear that if you want to hire a great person you need to start with a great job. However, once you have a great job you need to support it with great advertising. While the form of the recruitment advertising has changed over the years, the need for compelling and targeted messages hasn’t. Unfortunately, this message seems to have been lost in the race for scale, speed and efficiency. It’s time to bring it back.