Why we are still behaving like the “want ads” – but worse. #wecandobetter

I am old enough to remember the “want ads”. For those of you younger chaps out there who are unfamiliar with this, let me explain. There was once this thing called a “newspaper”. This was a bunch of papers, folded together, that had the news of the day printed on them. You could get these “newspapers” in boxes on busy streets, or also via a young neighborhood boy or girl who would deliver them to your door. These kids were called “paperboys” or “papergirls”. In these “newspapers” there was a section called “the want ads”. In essence, this was where people would go to find open jobs via company advertisements. Believe it or not, there actually was a time when there was no internet and thus people actually had to seek openings out in the want ads. Also – companies saw this method as a very cost effective and productive way to get resumes via the mail (you know, actual letters, envelopes and stuff). I am not here to reminisce about the good old days and when you used to take your best girl to the malt shop and the sock hop. Nope –  I am here to tell you that while we no longer use the want ads (but they do still exist), with all our technology and improvements we are still doing the same thing today – just with different tools, and worse.

I absolutely fricking love what I do and am proud to have been in the recruiting industry for my entire career (so far – they may still kick my butt out someday). Yet, watching my feed on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and any other social media platform du jour these days I can’t help but wince with embarrassment. Yep – embarrassment. Why Ed, you say? Because we continually perpetuate the long standing stereotypes about our field. Over and over and over again. Now, instead of placing an ad in the want ads, we are (virtually) screaming at the top of our lungs in some of the most spectacularly soulless ways possible to a much larger audience than ever before. Think about it – we have got all of these new ways to attract talent, but instead we keep reverting to a method that was used 20 years ago . What do you mean Ed? Give me some examples! Well – here are a few of the doozies I see every day (names and companies withheld to protect the guilty – only because I don’t believe in public shaming – but you know who you are). As an exercise, I literally went in to my LinkedIn feed and picked out these gems in a matter of 5 minutes. What follows is akin to a tourist walking into a foreign country marketplace. People screaming at him/her all different things to sell, with the tourist not being compelled to buy their wares but instead becoming perplexed, confused and frankly – scared shitless. Talent Attraction in action! Here you go – your feed of horrors – with some translation.

– I represent a XXXX professional with strong XXXX experience who is looking for contract work, if any client has a need please reach out to me thanks NAME COMPANY NUMBER EMAIL
Translation – Hey – I need some business companies! My new car isn’t paying for itself. Please? Pretty please? Call me, OK?


– (With Bullhorn Reach Logo – not even their own company logo) Business Development Representative – Now Hiring!
Translation – This job is one of 100 I need to fill, but the exclamation mark! The exclamation mark dammit! Did you see that we are now hiring?


– HOT!!! Looking for a XXXXX with some experience with XXXXX. Please email me for more details EMAIL ADDRESS
Translation – This thing is HOT!!! Three exclamation mark HOT!!! Don’t tell anyone, but there will be another HOT!!! one tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day….


– Looking for network engineer for a position in XXXX Must Have XXXX( Minimum) . XXX ( Preferred). 5 years of experience. proven experience in designing XXXX and XXX send your resume to EMAIL ADDRESS ONLY right candidates will be contacted.
Translation – ONLY RIGHT CANDIDATES!!! All you wrong ones can burn in hell as far as I am concerned. Don’t have this experience? Go screw wrong candidates.


– Looking for a new job? <<< check out this job >>>
Translation – This is such click bait. SUCH click bait. Pure marketing genius – candidates are gonna love this one. Click bait city.


– Immediate need for a XXXXX in our XXXX office!
Translation – What if I wanted to apply tomorrow or next week? Is it still 50% off? Wait – I’m confused now. This isn’t a car commercial?


– Senior XXXX – apply now!
Translation – Hey, Senior XXXX, apply now. NOW I SAID, NOW!!!


– Looking for a new job? XXXX has them!
Translation – If you act now, you will also get this free earth shaped stress ball! First 100 callers eligible!

No joke folks – this was literally a “refresh” on my LinkedIn feed and “voila”. Now I ask all of us as an industry – do you think this actually works? Does your metrics for source of hire or your candidate pipeline show this is effective? If you are being honest, you know the answer. Let me put this in a different perspective so we can all really absorb this. First off – we all agree that we are in a sales profession, correct? OK – with that out of the way, let’s pretend that ATS sales people were doing this same method on social media:

– New ATS system available NOW!!!! Call me to learn more!

– I represent an AMAZING ATS system. Any clients out there looking to buy one? Contact me now!

– Looking for a Client who needs an ATS system but has XXXX employees and XXX budget and must be located in XXXX geo – email me here for more!

– Looking for a new ATS? XXXX has them! Won’t last long!

Now be completely honest with yourself – what would you think of these ATS vendors? Yeah – I thought so. Now imagine what your potential candidate pool thinks of you and your organizations when they see this crap. Think back again to my example of the tourist in the foreign market. Their initial intent is to go in and buy something, but what happens 9 out of 10 times is they get frightened off,overwhelmed and leave without buying squat. Don’t be those screaming vendors to the tourists. As I wrote in a prior piece, #wecandobetter. We all know by now the importance of talent brand, but these kinds of job posts and weak job descriptions are on the front lines of the brands you represent, and trust me, this isn’t a good look. I love our industry and am continually amazed by some of the great work being done in our space by some really inventive and thoughtful people. Let’s all elevate our games and move on from the want ads to become the profession we all love and aspire to be. #Wecandobetter.


Posted on August 6, 2015 in candidate experience, Employment Brand, job posting, Recruiting, Social Media, talent acquisition

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