For recruiters today, it’s simple to identify 20-30 ideal candidates for just about any staff or mid-level manager position. All you need is the ability to use LinkedIn’s powerful filtering system, a bit of basic Boolean and some knowledge of what the best people do differently than the rest. For example, searching on the term “patents” will bring up strong engineers and “quota” will bring up sales people who are proud they made it.

What’s hard is getting these people to respond to your messages. What’s even harder is getting these people to talk to you and convincing them that your opening represents a career move.

But in my mind, this is the essence of recruiting. Recruiting is not waiting for someone to apply to your job or answer your email saying he/she is ready to move. It’s proactively reaching out to top-notch people and persuading them to at least consider the idea of changing jobs. So, how do you do it? By adding job taglines to all your job descriptions. The tagline is the little sentence that captures the jobs purpose and will make candidates want to apply. And creating it all starts with the intake meeting...

Using the intake meeting to determine the perfect tagline for your job post

Creating a great tagline starts during the intake meeting with the hiring manager. The primary objective of this meeting is to convert the job into a true career opportunity for someone. As an absolute minimum, this requires the following information and commitment from the hiring manager:

  1. Describe the job as a series of critical performance objectives, not a laundry list of skills.
  2. Get the hiring manager to develop the employee value proposition (EVP) explaining why the spot is a better job for someone who already has a good job doing similar work.
  3. Get the hiring manager to answer this question: What’s the one single skill, strength or competency that drives on-the-job success?
  4. Obtain the hiring manager’s commitment to have an exploratory call with someone who can do the work but needs more information to seriously consider the job.

Based on this you’ll be able to create some compelling messages and taglines that inspire the “right” person to read the full job posting, respond to your emails or return your voice mail messages. I refer to this as job branding.

Using job branding and taglines to capture candidates' intrinsic motivators 

For example, many years ago I saw a job description prepared by the McFrank and Williams recruitment advertising agency that’s a true classic for a cost analyst position:

Cost Estimator: Your attention to detail drives our corporate profitability.

I created the following for our own operations manager who we hired more than 10 years ago and is still with us. The tagline stood out like a sore thumb with a message that said, “This job is talking about me.”

Operations Manager – aka Jack of All Trades and Master Juggler

To develop these taglines, I seek out the wisdom of Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs, Zig Ziglar’s belief that “sales is helping people get what they want,” and Coach John’s Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.



Based on this basic understanding of human nature and the driver of on-the-job success, you need to create a tagline that will capture the candidate’s intrinsic motivator. This is the only way the “right” person will read or listen to your message and respond. Some examples will help you understand this messaging concept.

Here’s one a talent leader used to find nurses for a hospital’s medivac program:

Flight Nurse – Helping Save Lives Everyday

Here’s one we created for a controller of a small movie film production company. The CEO wanted someone from a big entertainment company.

Oscar-Winning Controller – Get Out of the Numbers and Make a Difference

Here are a few new ones we’re now testing.

This is for a Quality Assurance Manager for a manufacturing company that needs a person to spend most of the time on the factory floor:

Quality Assurance Manager – Get Dirty. Don’t Assume Anything.

Here’s one for a Sales Operations Manager who needs to provide sales leaders the info needed to manage a sales team tripling in size over the next 12 months:

Sales Operations Manager: You and Bring Insight Never Seen Before

Of course, getting a person to respond to your messages is critical, but this is just a starting point. These taglines will certainly help, but then the person needs to be compelled to read the entire job posting or email (which both need to be as exciting and as compelling as the tagline) or contact you directly. Then on the first phone call the recruiter needs to demonstrate that the difference between what your opening offers and what the person is doing today is a true career move. And if it is, the next step is an exploratory conversation with the hiring manager.

Hiring top talent requires a multi-level sophisticated marketing program in combination with a skilled recruiter and an engaged hiring manager. But it always starts with a great message that captures the attention of the person in less than 140 characters.