If you’re willing to devote at least four hours a week to independent reading and learning—and then routinely incorporate the new concepts into your skill set—then you might consider applying for the software developer position General Informatics wants to fill. Otherwise?
“This will not be a good fit,” warns the second sentence of the job posting, “and let’s not waste time.”
Clueless about what’s a UWP or WPF? Don’t apply. Never worked with XAML? Move on. Speaking of moving, have a track record of switching jobs every two years or less? Scratch “General Informatics” off your list. All of the above are big no-no’s specifically outlined in the posting.
Though perhaps shockingly blunt and frank, the posting serves its intended purpose as “a very direct call to the right person,” says Mo Vij, the company’s president. In fact, a couple of applicants called him to say they’d never before seen that kind of language used in a job posting.
“We want to harp on the qualities we want,” says Vij, whose firm is currently advertising for eight job openings. “In a way, we are trying to discourage people from applying; if we can discourage non-self-starters from the get-go, that’s more efficient for us.”
In a tight job market, companies are changing the way they write job descriptions, adding a greater level of detail and tweaking language to entice a broader range of applicants, including more women. Some businesses are getting more casual in their lingo and more lighthearted with their tone, while others, like General Informatics, are buckling down on the nitty-gritty, day-to-day responsibilities, explaining the downsides of the job to help candidates determine whether to apply or opt out.
The efforts, according to human resources professionals, reflect widespread frustration with job postings from both applicants and employers. Vague descriptions can lure in too broad a range of candidates who might not be well-equipped for a role, omitting seemingly inconsequential but ultimately critical information that helps applicants make sense of a company’s culture.
Whether it’s the inclusion of an estimated salary range or the number of emails someone applying for the position can expect to answer daily, one common trait emerges among the best job postings: The more specific, the better.
“It’s a job-seeker’s market,” says Jimmy Robbins, president of HR Solutions in Baton Rouge. “To attract some good people, you’ve got to become creative in some aspects.”
Unlike five or 10 years ago, businesses must now carve out more space in their postings to sell themselves, says Robbins, whose firm provides HR management services to more than 300 companies across a variety of industries throughout Louisiana. That means at least one-quarter of a posting, he estimates, should be dedicated to touting a company’s mission, achievements and employee benefits, including paid time off policies, 401(k) match options and flex working opportunities.
Job-seekers skimming through a recent MESH posting for a full-time senior designer will discover in a company description—which takes up roughly 25% of the page—that the creative agency lets its employees work remotely, offers a bonus program and boasts a pet Yeti, among other perks.
“We try to be as open and transparent as possible,” says Taylor Bennett, CEO of MESH. “We don’t want to go into marketing-speak; we want to sound like humans in our descriptions so that we attract people who fit the DNA of MESH.”
Employers now almost habitually allude to company culture in job postings—and some aren’t so subtle. To promote its opening for a project coordinator, ThreeSixtyEight posted to LinkedIn a one-minute, 20-second video featuring a man in sunglasses comically performing several stunts outside the company’s Mid City office building, such as running across the nearby train tracks, “parkouring” onto rocks and racing down South 14th Street.
“This gem was made by our crew during our lunch break. Also…we’re hiring for a project coordinator position,” reads the post, followed by a link to the online application. “Please tag an organized friend who may be interested and likes to push it to the limit.”
Within the first 24 hours of the LinkedIn post, another “five or six people” applied for the job, says Kara Pitre, the senior project manager who created the posting. More candidates began applying soon thereafter, resuscitating what had been a lull in interest.
“I thought, if you worked here, you would have to think this is funny,” says Kenny Nguyen, founder and CEO of ThreeSixtyEight. “A company’s culture should be strong enough to attract, but also to repel.”
Still, the agency wants to cast a broad net for potential applicants and aims to be strategic in its language choices.
Some words are inadvertently discriminatory. For instance, Pirte says she steers clear of kitschy phrases like “social media wizard” or “ninja,” which tend to skew toward a more masculine audience. One way she avoids unintended gender discrimination is by using the second-person pronouns “you” and “your.”
But even phrases like “recent college graduate” can unintentionally discriminate against potential applicants, adds Robbins and several of his HR Solutions employees, who instead recommend using “entry-level” to describe the same position.
Should you include a salary range? Human Resources professionals Francis Boustany, Harmoney Campbell and Kathleen David—all of HR Solutions—respond with a resounding “yes,” saying it generally eliminates candidates who wouldn’t be a good fit for the job and can sometimes help generate interest in the position. However, they say the practice is not yet quite as common in Baton Rouge as in other parts of the country—a fact many small business owners attribute to staying competitive during the hiring process.
What’s more important to include than a dollar range, says Robbins, is future-focused language that sells the company’s short-term and long-term vision.
“Tell the candidate where your organization is going in the future,” Robbins says. “They want to see what their future is.”