ad to get you the very best candidates, it needs to break the mold of every
employment ad you have ever seen. To do that, there are 3 basic steps. The
first one is all about how you think about an ad. The rest - the doing steps -
flow from that changed thinking.
Step 1: Change Your Thinking
about the "Appropriate" Ad
Picture this ad
to sell your home:
buyer wanted: must have basic knowledge of plumbing and electrical work. People
with no money need not apply."
recognize that no one would advertise a house with such an uninspired ad. Yet
we expect someone to change their entire life, taking a new job and perhaps
moving to another community, based on ads that are not much better than
forget is that advertising a job is just that - advertising. The purpose of
advertising is to inspire the target audience to take action.
job ads, however, do not inspire. Standard job ads are boring. And when an ad
is boring, it should be no surprise we get boring candidates!
organization's leadership is not willing to go outside the comfort zone to
create an ad that gets to the heart of what you want in a candidate - and what
that candidate wants from you - then it is likely your candidates will continue
to miss the mark.
however, you are ready to admit that you are attracting dull candidates because
your ad is dull, the first step to creating a great ad is making the
commit to ignore your experience re: what employment ads should look like.
commit to creating an ad that aims at attracting extraordinary
Step 2: Explain What You
There are multiple mistakes employers tend to make when it
comes to explaining what they want. We will focus on two of
The Curse of Knowledge
groundbreaking book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die,
Chip and Dan Heath describe the "Curse of Knowledge" as perhaps the single
largest barrier to getting one's point across. In example after example, they
show that once we know something, it is hard to imagine what it is like to
not know that.
- You know what you mean when you say "Strategic
Thinker." But does the person reading the ad know what you mean?
- You know what you mean when you say "Visionary
Leader." But is it the same thing your reader thinks it means?
- You know what you mean when you say "Team
Player," but does that mean the same to your prospects?
roomful of professionals to respond honestly to these
think of yourself as a team player?
Do you think of yourself as a visionary
leader? A strategic thinker?
bet 99% of them will answer, "Yes." Does that make it so? Would they all be
good candidates? Or is that response simply a result of how we each define
Asking for Qualifications
the Curse of Knowledge in employment ads is the Curse of
for 10 years experience. Or someone who has run a $10 million organization with
100 employees. Or someone with an advanced degree.
know people who have 20 years of experience who still don't evidence even two
years of smarts. So is "10 years experience" really what you want?
really want "experience;" we want the qualities we assume will come from that
experience. We want the ability to think on one's feet, to know the right
answer almost instinctively, to be able to rely on a wealth of contacts and
typical employment ads do not ask for what we really want (qualities, skills,
talents). Instead, those ads ask for indicators of what we want (experience and
2 in Action: Explaining What You Want
Spend some time brainstorming
what you really want. If someone mentions a label (visionary thinker),
brainstorm what that really means. Give examples of how you would want that
person to respond in any given situation. How would you know a visionary
thinker if that person were standing before you? How would you know if someone
was NOT a visionary thinker?
same with all your labels and qualifications. If your qualifications include,
"experience running a $10 million organization," dig deep to discover what you
are really seeking from that experience. What do you want that person to be
able to easily do?
do not know these critical components up front, I guarantee you will write a
boring ad. But worse than that, you will then do a poor job of screening
resumes and interviewing, all because you are not totally clear about what you
Step 3: Explain Why This is the
Best Job for THEM
Picture a television ad for junk food. Greasy
burger, oozing catsup and bacon and all sorts of other things that humans
should think twice before consuming. Now tell the truth - doesn't that ad make
you want one? Heck - I'm a vegetarian, and just picturing that ad in my mind
makes me want a burger!
your employment ad do that for your candidates?
Every intern in our office over the past 5 years has told us the
exact same tale: They saw our ad and dropped everything they were doing - one
even got out of her sickbed with a 102 degree fever - to respond to the ad. And
the words they have all used in relating that story have all been identical: "I
knew when I read the ad that this was my job. And I knew if I did not respond
immediately, someone else would take my job."
ads make prospects want to get out of their sickbed to respond? Is your ad a
beacon to the perfect person, pulling him/her in to your realm? Is the ad
showing candidates that yours is the most amazing place in the world to
remember the boring ad above for selling a home. And remember the big juicy
burger on your tv screen.
Putting It All
Once you have listed what you really want from a
candidate, and once you have listed what's in it for them, you are ready to
write an ad that says exactly that.
to work. Write an ad that says the following:
- Here is what we're looking for.
- Here is what's in it for you.
- If this sounds like you, let us know. We cannot wait to