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Words matter – for job boards, career sites, and recruiting in general

words matterEvery day we are deluged with images, sounds, sights, smells….and words. Some lodge in our brains and some don’t.

If you’re in the recruiting biz, your primary tools (at present) are words – spoken or written. Yes, some employment advertising has moved into visuals (think glossy employer videos, job seeker video resumes, and stark ‘branding’ ads in major magazines). But the vast majority of open positions are filled through the use of spoken and written words.

That’s right. Print ads. Job ads. Twitter ads. Talking on the phone. Talking in person. Words, words, words.

Of course, you’d never guess that by perusing the ads on any given career site or job board. To wit:

No Experience is Necessary! Due to expansion, we’re currently providing training! (Name removed to protect the guilty) is the state’s newest, most innovative, promotional marketing firm that works with a variety of clients from different industries from National Retailers, major product suppliers and national restaurants as well as companies from the Entertainment Industry.”

Huh? What the heck is this job about? If it isn’t communicated up front and clearly, why should the job seeker keep reading?

Another problem: what I call the ”invasion of deadly dry HR prose’. Here we go:

(Company name hidden again) is seeking energetic, ambitious, career-oriented Marketing Consultants – Inside Sales (Telephone) to connect businesses and consumers through its broad portfolio of interactive and search engine marketing and print solutions. Small and medium-sized businesses look to our team of experienced marketing consultants to help them grow their companies by delivering qualified, ready to buy customers.

Boy howdy, am I excited now! Not. As you can see, many seemingly active verbs were used to create very little movement. Words can create pictures and motion. Really.

Effective use of language can make your job ad stand out – and get better and more qualified candidates.  Don’t believe me? Try an experiment. Run your typical job ad (let’s say a bit similar to the ones mentioned above) and also run an ad like this:


You are best described by a story:

You think the current look and feel of our site sucks. After 10 minutes of thinking and sketching, you have three simple changes to help make it cohere. In 20 minutes, you have put together a PSD file with three different versions of your changes.

Other things about you:

  • You think about branding and design constantly.
  • Your natural workflow includes making many versions, selecting the best, then making many more versions…”

Ok, I’m interested! Now where was that apply button?

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. You’re so right in everything you say JBD, but will the people listen? My experience suggests not, sadly. Technology has taken creativity, kicked it’s ass into touch and replaced it with the cut and paste….. and worse.

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