Welcome to this week’s inspirational, dynamic article!
You’re a vibrant motivated business person, and you’re going to get unrivalled take-home value from reading this.
Whoah, what’s going on, Ian? This is not your normal tone, you’re weirding me out.
Sorry, I’ve just been reading through a pile of recruitment ads. They put a rainbows’n’sparkles filter on the world of work, a shower of jacked-up adjectives that are a triumph of hope over reality.
Few things are as effective as recruitment ads in setting everyone involved up for disappointment.
Here’s a job I know of in a company that has a history of:
- Management by random impulse
- Employee humiliation
- Backward technology
- Chronic nepotism
- Active suppression of staff innovation, and
- Bottom-of-the-barrel remuneration:
Are you a dynamic team leader who can deliver next-level outcomes with a group of passionate, results-driven sales staff? You’ll be proactive and meticulous, with outstanding planning and communication skills, going above and beyond … (it goes on but we’ll leave it there).
Dynamic. Next-level. Passionate. Meticulous. I have never employed or worked for a single person who delivers all those things, and thank God for that because they would be insufferable. If I had to write a review of my own work as an employee I’d say, “he worked hard, had a few good ideas and generally did the best job he could”. And that was enough.
There’s an Inverse Law Of Workplace Quality that the more they describe the company as corporate nirvana, the more uninspiring the place actually is. No ‘passionate’ individual would last more than a few weeks at the company that ran that ad.
The 8-Step Spiral Into Disillusionment
All that self-basting exaggeration sets up expectations that can’t be delivered. New hires turn up all shiny and keen, ready to change the world, and they get pitched into the whirlpool of descending reality.
And right there you’ve set up the grim vibe that inhabits so many companies, particularly large ones. When most of your staff are somewhere between Phases 5 and 8, your customers can sense that vibe.
So your beautiful marketing cruise ship gets dashed against the rocks of service indifference. It’s a complete waste of all that money.
BTW re point 8: scepticism is very different to cynicism, for more on that read this.
Your recruitment ads would work better long-term if you used more realism and less sugar frosting.
The Art Of Self-Selecting Copywriting
And wouldn’t it be better if your recruitment ads were a bit more self-selecting? So they spoke more directly to the specific people you want? And they weeded out people who don’t suit the gig, so they don’t bother applying?
It brings me to the best recruitment ad ever written. The ad you run when you need polar explorers tough enough to leave their families for five years, lose most of their comrades down crevasses, eat their own dogs and if they’re lucky, get back with one or two fingers unclaimed by frostbite.
It’s a great ad, the ultimate in self-selection, and thus legendary in advertising circles for the lessons it passes down.
The only problem being that the ad almost certainly never existed. Such a shame. Seems like it was written later by someone saying what they thought Shackleton would have said.
So it’s a century-ago version of those too-good-to-be-true LinkedIn recruitment anecdotes:
H/T @StateOfLinkedIn .
But those self-selection principles still stand.
(Side note – this entire blog is an exercise in self-selection. People who are thinking about doing business with us read it, and I’m pretty certain half of them think: this is too strange for us, let’s not arrange that meeting. The ones that do dig it aren’t in any doubt about where we stand. So it saves a heap of meetings with white-shirt PowerPoint jockeys.)
We’re currently advertising for an Operations Manager for our Brisbane office. We’re not looking for someone who’s done that job for years, we’re looking for someone for whom it’s their next career step.
Hence the opening line:
“You are probably an AV tech wizard, but frankly you’ve had enough of sitting up the back of hotel ballrooms playing Pharrell’s Happy.”
No disrespect to Pharrell for what is a great song. But anyone in the that job knows the Groundhog Day vibe of sitting at the back of a dark room at conference after conference, hitting ‘play’ on Happy until you want to cauterise your own ears.
So the ad instantly says: we understand your life. Without actually using those words.
And a dose of realism:
“It’s AV. The work will be hard and on occasions, the hours weird. Our whole team has each others’ backs, without the sales vs operations shenanigans that can make your life difficult in other places.”
Good bits seem much more realistic when they’re balanced with realistic not-so-good bits.
If you’re open about some parts of the job being difficult, it’s much more likely you run a business that cares about making those bits better. Rather pretending they don’t exist, as a lot of places do.
Do Fewer Interviews
Hopefully, we’ll do fewer interviews with better people.
And right upfront people have a sense of our company vibe, which is incredibly important in keeping your culture the way you want it.
Every point of contact is your chance to be different to your competitors, and when your staff are a big part of your brand, why wouldn’t you start with your recruitment ads? Why not let your marketing copywriters get involved, rather than some HR drone with no persuasion skills?
If your recruitment ads can’t instantly show that you’re different to other places to work, you have more work to do. Not just on your recruitment ads, but in your entire concept of why your business exists.
And as those recruitment ads are increasingly written by auto-populate apps and AI (you guessed it the results are ‘perfect’ ?) and thus will all be exactly the same, here’s your chance to stand out with your human touch.
So you can attract better people who actually get it. How good would that be?
I’m at Phase 8. Just resigned yesterday after 7.5 years. GOD IT FEELS GREAT! I will never work for a large company again…
Hell yeah viva freedom! Thanks for the long-distance reading all this time, don’t forget to drop yr new email on the list
I think our company’s true job ad would be something along the lines of “Backward looking organisation, seeking yes men wearing R.M Williams and willing to participate in circle jerks. Sycophants welcome and promotion not based on merit. Intelligent millennials and women need not apply as its c.1950. Please submit your favorite joke from the Two Ronnies with your answer to the following question – How many beers did David Boon drink on his flight to London in 1989? . No resumes please’
Another great piece Ian.
Actual lol that is so on the money. Just a stab in the dark could you also add ‘must have skills in complaining about reverse discrimination’?
Of course . Funny how those types are so sensitive.