Your Job Listing Probably Sucks

I’m constantly amazed by some of the things that startups do. When you are building a company, you’re essentially breathing life into a new creation. You’re (hopefully) breaking every rule and learning as you go.

Why then would you want to abide by old methods for recruiting? Here’s a case in point that I ran across tonight on Hacker News:

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Note the problem? This isn’t a rant about education requirements (though I wrote one of those, and you can read it here). But I’m seeing two requirements in this job posting that are flat out ridiculous for anyone, much less for a startup.

“Detail oriented and results focused”. This is a job listing for a marketing director. The very method by which a director of marketing will be judged is the results of his or her work.

“Excellent communication skills”. Really? Having this statement in your job listing is like someone applying for a teaching position by saying “I write good”. Besides, do you honestly think that any candidate is going to apply, then tell you “oh yeah, I also suck at talking to people”?

Maybe this rant is more about the wasting of words, but even at that, it’s just plain senseless. You have a job to fill? That’s awesome. I wish you the best. Now, don’t make yourself (or your company) look like a moron by “requiring” results and the ability to talk to people.

But this isn’t just a post about one specific job. If you want to be disturbed, head to Dice, Monster or CareerBuilder and look around at how people who want to hire other people go about passing that message. It’s as if every educated, well-informed person in the organization has been locked in a room so that little Billy can write out the job vacancy in orange crayon.

When I joined FullContact, I didn’t apply for a position. It was created because our CEO and Director of Business Development felt as if the right person had come along to fill a need. But one thing I can tell you is this - When I signed off on the requirements of my position, neither Ben nor Bart implored me to be an “excellent communicator” or “results focused”. I work in marketing. If I can’t talk to people, and if my work doesn’t turn into new customers, then I need to get out of marketing because I’ve failed.

The fact is this - Unless you’re expecting something off-the-wall from a position that you’ve listed, you need to state the requirements that people won’t necessarily expect. If you genuinely want to recruit the person who introduces themselves as “results oriented” or an “excellent communicator”, you’re getting ready to spend a lot of money on a person whose performance won’t be worth the energy that you used to type out the ad.

Be smart. Hire smarter.

Edit: On Twitter, @derloos lists three things that are exponentially more important than anything we’ve talked about here:

  1. Be great at what you do.
  2. Be able to learn new stuff fast.
  3. Don’t burn out on us in less than a year.

If you’re hiring someone for your startup, and they can provide you with these three qualities, you’ve found someone that you should hire immediately.


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