Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How to advertise a job (and where to stick the applications)

So, at the end of last week I was made redundant. Whoopee.

Granted, it was from a job that I disliked, that caused parts of my body to fail and, apparently, was paying lower than minimum wage. It was, however, a job. It was a place of familiarity where I could do something constructive for a financial end and meet new people along the way.

With the Ship of Unemployment sailing through the Fog of Depression towards the Shores of Destitution, I thought it was high-time someone told the writers of job ads how to do their jobs properly (feel free to point them to this site). Since I'll be reading alot of employment ads in the near future, I figure I may as well read good ones.

1. If you are writing an ad, know what you're advertising

Job hunters do not want to see an ad which says 'Are you interested in ducks? If so, call 555-1122' They want details. For many people changing vocations is an important step in their lives, and they want to make the right decision. They don't want a catchy line only to find there is no substance. It's the same as an attractive young lady giving you their number, only to turn around and say 'Oh, it was silly to give you my number like that'. So much promise, so little payoff.

A better way to advertise a job (and yes, there ARE ads like this out there) is to do it like this:

Catchy line to pique interest
We're looking for someone with the following skills...
... to do the following tasks...
... for this amount of money...
... at this location.
For more information contact X or go to the website @

It's the perfect job ad.
Stop wasting my time with stupid ads and, for the record, spell the damn things correctly. I saw an ad on a couple of weeks ago for a Copywriter. The ad was full of spelling errors and the grammar was appalling.

'Yer, I want 2 rite. Can U hir me plz? I are good at stuf. lol thx. '

2. If you want to hire people, how about advertising the position?

Apparently, 70% of available jobs are unadvertised. That sure makes sense. Have a vacant desk in your office? Just sit there and hope that the right person comes along. No wait, pray for the right person to come along. Then jam your genitals in a stapler, because that is going to be as effective, if not more so. The person who hears you screaming might just be the ideal candidate.

Job seminars and community centres and recruitment agencies always tell people to 'Network network network'. This means 'Tell people you are looking for jobs, make enquiries, make use of word of mouth.' Word of mouth is what has got me every job I have ever had, I have not had to apply for one. I even turned down a job on Tuesday because it was in the opposite direction of what I wanted (and of what my body could tolerate). I'm all for putting yourself out there. It's incredibly important for people to know that you are looking for work, because any number of people you know could know a guy who knows a guy.

At the same time, employers need to let people know the jobs are out there. One hand washes the other. I tell people I'm looking for a job as a Creative, one of those people sees an ad in a place I missed, and BAM! I land a new job.

Advertising is the key. Networking and 'word of mouth' go both ways.

3. So you've received 25 job applications. Now what?

Read them. This takes time, I know, but I get the feeling that people sometimes throw a pile of paper in the air and only read the applications that land text-side-up. It's more fun that way. It's also really inefficient, ineffective, and downright rude.
Cover letters are an excellent way of gauging the worthiness of an applicant and yet alot of places do not accept or request them when the job applications are done online. This is poor company policy and/or a lazy human resources department.
Once you've read every cover letter, skim all the résumés`. It could be that the résumé attached to a poor cover letter reveals an admirable applicant. Granted, their cover letter should have been better, but not everyone can think of a catchy line to grab attention; after all, the world does need accountants...

I took the initiative to write a cover letter and put it on the first page of my résumé before forwarding it. It was a gamble. I got an interview, but didn't get the job. I did learn however that it was the letter (in addition to the résumé) that got me the interview. The gamble paid off to some extent, and I learned something from the experience.

Okay, so out of the 25 applicants you have found 8 that suit your needs. The cover letters were outstanding, and maybe even entertaining, the résumés ticked all the applicable boxes, and each applicant would be well-suited to the position, except you can only pick 1. So what are you to do with the 17 other applications? You know, the ones that didn't make the grade? Bin them all (yes/no/maybe?) and assume that they will forget they ever applied?


No, no, no, no, no!

Get your head out of your 'I'm too busy' arse. Manners are too-often overlooked. You MUST notify failed applicants that they have not made it to the interview stage. If you do not, they sit with their thumbs up their arse for days and weeks on end wondering whether they'll hear from you or not. (Weeks is a reasonable comment - some places take months to tell you that you are the lucky winner of an interview.)

An automated email from the company which informs you that you haven't made it is sufficient. I do not require a gushing email telling me how great I am whilst all the while implying that I am shit at everything I do. All I require is a 'Dear Applicant, We're sorry to inform you that your application has not reached the next level of the application process. Thank you for applying, and best of luck in future endeavours. - Signed, I.M Faceless'

That's IT. That's all you have to do. If applications are emailed to a specific address, then it makes life even easier. You move the 'approved' applicants to a different email folder, then hit 'reply to all' in the main directory and send out your pre-packaged condolances. It takes bugger-all time (that's Australian for 'none') and the applicant can move on to the next poorly-written job ad.