Most Job Ads Are Terrible. This VC Has 5 Tips to Make Yours Stand Out

A few months ago when discussion of the Great Resignation researchers was at its peak, Harvard discovered that firms were turning away millions of qualified applicants. Why? Mostly because their job ads were so stuffed with irrelevant and outdated requirements that screening software eliminated tons of candidates that could have done the work perfectly well.

And that’s not the only way many job ads are terrible. Companies have also been called out for using gendered language in job ads that subtly discourages women from applying. And as most of us have experienced firsthand, many are just incredibly dull. Or as Olivia Moorea partner at top VC firm Andreessen Horowitz put it on Twitter recently: “Job descriptions tend to be VERY dry. The bar is on the floor.”

This is both good news and bad. The bad news is your job ads as they’re currently written are probably just as awful as the average. The good news is that a few simple tweaks can improve them enough to stand out from the mediacre crowd. In her recent twitter thread Moore offers several suggestions.

1. Write a better ‘About Us.’

Your goal in introducing the company isn’t to provide a comprehensive (but painfully boring) explanation of every detail of your business. It’s to get people excited about the prospect of working with you.

“When writing an ‘About Us,’ try to answer: What makes people brag about working here? Candidates want to understand what makes the company special and why the work is meaningful,” advises Moore. She points to an ad from web security company Cloudflare that describes the company like this as a good example: “We’re not just a highly ambitious, large-scale technology company. We’re a highly ambitious, large-scale technology company with a soul.”

2. Offer specifics about the interviewing process.

“Be specific about what candidates can expect from the recruiting process, and what the timeline looks like. It signals you’re organized, know what you’re looking for, and respect their time. This is a breath of fresh air for most candidates.” !,” insists Moore. List out the stages successful candidates will have to go through and the expected time commitment for each.

3. Help candidates self-select out.

Reviewing applications from candidates that are a terrible fit for the role wastes both your time and the candidates. So why not save everyone the hassle and be upfront about what this particular job does and does not offer.

“You don’t have to share all the unglamorous parts! But, help candidates understand what is in/out of scope for the role. This saves you time down the line (post-offer, or worse, post-start),” notes Moore. She offers a good example from venture capital firm 776 that lays out exactly what the job is not (ie a stepping stone to an investing position, an opportunity to build out your own team).

4. Actively pitch candidates.

This seems like a no-brainer, but even at a moment when employees are being picky about where they work, companies aren’t being explicit about the upsides of signing on as an employee.

“In this market, people have options – and want to understand how the role fits into their career goals. What will they learn? What skills will they develop? What will they be prepared to do next?” More tweets. (Research backs her up on the importance of clearly communicating career progression.)

5. Show some personality.

You probably need neither me nor Moore to tell you that most job ads are dry as day-old toast. Instead of testing candidates’ resolve to persist through boredom, “you can stand out by surprising people and making them smile,” Moore instructs, offering a pun-filled ad for restaurant platform Toast as a good example.

Are your company’s job ads following Moore’s five principles? If not, it might be time to give them another edit.

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