Why Job Adverts Suck and What You Can Do About It.

At the start of this year, and many years before it the pundits of HR and Recruitment (yes, they really exist) make predictions for the year ahead.  As well as borrowing heavily from the mantras of Silicon Valley startups promising to be social, mobile and local there is always one persistent prediction that never seems to go away.

The mists in the crystal ball clear and a vision of the future appears, with absolute certainty, our forecasters declare “The Job Description will cease to exist!”.  Then, as if to mock that same prescient certainty, they don’t.

Despite the flaws of the formats on both side of the job seeker chasm things seem to stay the same.  Whilst the prognosticators may lament that their visions haven’t been proven right the world keeps turning, recruiters still want to see your CV and HR departments the world over keep posting banal job descriptions.  As much as recruiters may decry applicants for their terrible CVs or offer advice on how not make CV mistakes there doesn’t seem to be quite the same amount of concern for the job descriptions and adverts that they themselves post supposedly to entice those looking for work.
The average job description is currently a mishmash of an older version of the original specification, some amendments from an enthusiastic new hiring manager and some sexier phrases stolen from various other company’s career pages.  When you stop to consider the amount of work that marketers put into a banner or headline just to make a viewer click it’s mind boggling to think that recruiters expect people to consider making such an enormous change to their lives on the basis of bland copy and trite cliché.
There must be a better way… and there is…

In 1943 Abraham Maslow published his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in the Psychological Review. He posited a series of human drivers that worked sequentially, the lowest order of which must be satisfied in order to achieve the next. For example when starving to death we’re unlikely to be concerned with how our peer group thinks of us, until we meet that more basic need.

 Maslow used the terms “physiological”, “safety”, “belonging”, “esteem”, “self-actualization” to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through.  If we are using the format of a job advert as a means to motivating an action from a reader, could we borrow from the Maslow model to ensure that we are writing a well rounded and engaging advertisement?  Without too much of a mental stretch it’s easy to see how these stages can be made applicable to pressing on the underlying motivations a person may have when wanting to apply or even moving from casual interest to intention and ultimately action.  At the very least we could use a model to broaden the appeal of a job advert and hit more of the motivational bases that Maslow identified.

The lowest order motivator for a job seeker has to be salary.  Whilst it is foundational and important it can quickly be satisfied and judged accordingly.  Try putting the actual salary range on your job postings and voilà the majority who apply will have some idea of how much you are prepared to pay for the role.  Assuming that your job is not unpaid or a front for slave labour stating a salary is a good idea.  Promising adequate or even fair pay for a candidate’s toil should never be the best motivator you have to play.  Put simply, cash should never be your “ace in the hole”,  if it is it’s time to rethink the role.  Try talking to some other people who already do the job and ask them why they like it. Try to gain a deeper insight into the persona of those who enjoy the job – chances are that their reasons are probably inline with a potential employee’s too.  It tends to be the third party recruiters who’s job postings feature salary as the biggest incentive. “Java Developer $90,000” is a great indicator that the poster hasn’t really understood the real differentiators or their target audience.
For a lot of job posts salary Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 09.50.57is where we stop. There may be other details given about the company doing the recruitment or a technology stack but these will be generic and explanatory e.g. “You will write code and fix bugs” these are statements which would be true of the same role in another organisation.  How can we make this a little more personal? Maslow’s second step in the hierarchy is “Safety”.  For job seekers this may take the form of permanent vs. contract or the security of your company as an entity.  These can be addressed early on, from startups referring to themselves as “VC funded” or larger corporates stating successes “Safety” should be accepted as quickly as the salary stage.  If you don’t meet the needs of the job seeker here i.e. lower than expected salary and indeterminate contract length they will self select out of the process, and that’s a good thing at this stage.  Remember a great job advert isn’t about mass appeal it’s about gaining the interest of the right people.
A growing number of companies are following in the footsteps of the larger technical organisations and offering a bewildering number of perks and free incentives to their employees.  These are the hyperbolic tales of free food, dogs in the workplace, on site masseuses and hot and cold running champagne.  Who wouldn’t want those things? However a lot of job adverts fall at this hurdle.  Promising money and free things are are a great way to have someone make a small change. Switching a bank account or internet service provider maybe but surely not enough to change employers?  Job security should be implied in any job description and the benefits and perks are nice to haves – but don’t be swayed into thinking it’s enough.

Maslow’s third tier was “belonging” or “love”.  For a job advert how can we convey a sense of somewhere a candidate might want to belong?  This is where a lot of job adverts fear to tread. We stop at the inanimate perks and don’t consider the social interactions that having a job will bring.  Belonging in job adverts is best conveyed through the people the candidate will be working with. Humans are (mostly) social creatures and benefit from interaction.  Who really wants to spend eight hours a day treading the same carpet as people you hate? At the other end of the spectrum who would want to work with an ex-colleague or former manager who was an inspirational leader? Who might want to join a team of renowned experts in their field?  If we make a job advert generic and impersonal e.g. “You will work with our team of developers” we risk becoming generic.  Talking about the team is an opportunity to sell successes to a candidate and gain engagement from selling the pedigree of a potential peer group.  In the world of startup it’s normal to see adverts proclaiming founders who are ex-Google or ex-Facebook in this way an employer borrows some of the perceived quality bar of their previous employers.

Another consideration for the “Team” level of a job advert is how the team organise and work together.  A job may be more attractive for a reader if it explicitly states that the team don’t like to hold lengthy meetings, or that they work closely with other parts of the business.  There are some great examples here that would make brilliant recruiting messages like Spotify’s excellent Engineering Culture video. For those who are harbouring frustrations about their current employer’s bureaucracy or lack of insight and innovation, referring to how the prospective employing company gets work done can be revealing and enlightening.  Moreover, talking candidly about these things can help convey authenticity and engender trust in the reader.


For his fourth level Maslow talked about “Esteem”.  This is the need for appreciation and respect.  People need to sense that they are valued and by others and feel that they are making a contribution to the world. When employees become unhappy and disengaged they slowly start to stagnate.  If they feel under appreciated or second best to others this happens all the quicker.  It may seem obvious to mention that  people like to feel valued but in a job advertisement it is wholly appropriate to mention how the role they will play will be important to the rest of the team or company.  It’s a certainty that some of the role you’re advertising will be similar to other roles at other companies – in these cases it’s important to differentiate at a personal level.  It’s a rare candidate that wants to be a cog in machine but still I see companies loudly proclaiming they are hiring “one thousand software developers this year!” the intended message is clearly designed to be one of security, though it’s hard to escape from a different “come and be one of a crowd” vibe.  Remember a good job advert spurs the correct audience into action and acts as a self selection point for those who are not right.  A job advert should not be generic enough to attract all comers – if it does you just ensure that someone will have to wade through the mire of terrible candidates and machine gun applicants that apply to everything.

Knowing that the role you are performing is worthwhile and needed is a far better motivator than the lower level “carrot and stick” incentives of salary and mock “benefits” of legally mandated holiday entitlements.  The better job adverts will mention those truly motivating factors – autonomous working, results driven environments without the reliance of rules and policies.  This further adds authenticity and can be a real differentiator for a reader.


So what’s left?  You have an advert for a new job that tells a candidate they’ll be adequately financially rewarded, they’ll be given a great set of benefits and the company is secure so their job will be too.  You’ve told them about the great team they they get to work with and then you’ve gone on to tell them how they’ll fit into that team and why the work they will do is important and needed.  If you said that was all a job could do it’s still pretty compelling, but Maslow has a further tier on the road to fulfilment.  “Self- actualisation”. This is the final level of psychological development that can be achieved when all basic and mental needs are essentially fulfilled and the “actualisation” of the full personal potential takes place. Research shows that when people live lives that are different from their true nature and capabilities, they are less likely to be happy than those whose goals and lives match.

In job advertising terms how can we then offer this form of greater fulfilment to a prospective candidate?  A majority of job descriptions fail in the balance of power they portray.  Despite the current market for hires becoming tighter, in far too many posts on job boards there is a weird “you should be thankful that we deign to allow you to read this” holier than thou language choice that only the most spirit crushed drone would find engaging.  However, this has become the accepted convention for weird mash-up of job description cum advert that employers post. Part internal HR document, part external facing “sexed-up” hyperbole.

Instead of using language straight out of the mouths of the mill owners of the Industrial Revolution why not let candidates know what they stand to gain from being an employee.  What are the experiences they will have that will let them grow as individuals.  Will they gain new skills or be trained in new areas?  Will they get to mentor or be mentored by other employees leading to more rewarding interactions? Will they have the scope and the freedom to be truly creative? Are they empowered to innovate? This is the future facing final tier of any great job advert and if you can hint at a brighter future for those who come and work for you it might just be the tipping point for them to hit that big red apply button.

Job Titles and Perception – Ninjas, Gurus and Rockstars?

Somewhat unfairly, I tweeted this comparison recently.

The photo compares the titles afforded to two luminaries of the technical world.  One is Sir Tim Berners-Lee, he implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the Internet and is often credited as being the “Inventor of the World Wide Web”.  The other is David Shing, a speaker and futurologist for AOL, the American mass media organisation.  I offered the comparison, as unfair as it is, flippantly and the seeming disparity for Berners-Lee’s humility and Shing’s presumption seemed to hit a nerve with the twitter audience.

As a recruiter it makes me think.  If we can all see a disparity so huge in this example that is becomes absurd why do we still see people using titles that seem at odds with an individual’s function in an organisation?

Your job title communicates a lot more than you might realise.  Regardless of what an employer calls you most are pretty indifferent to you presenting yourself differently online.  The titles people self identify with can have a larger affect on the perception of the individual than you might expect.  Particularly in technical organisations there are a wealth of titles that are used to describe the same role – so how does the onlooker separate the Ninjas, Rockstars and Gurus from the Craftsmen, the Programmers and the plain old (like Sir Tim) Web Developers?  In making a choice and opting for a “wacky” title you make a statement that will shape the perception of others.  In most of these cases, for most of the people I’ve spoken to, they see a correlation with self claimed Ninja, Rockstars and an overestimation of their own skills and abilities.  For most of the people I’ve spoken to there is a connotation to brogrammer culture and the identification as the “Ninja” in question seeking to portray themselves as the hero in their own particular story…

All of this might be fine.  If the employer you want to work for has this culture you’ll fit in well and probably be successful.  I don’t think it’s helpful for potential candidates to seek to be seen in this light.  The best technologists I’ve worked with, “best” here being the feedback from peers and the community, were also the most humble.  These were the people who had created tools and languages the world over, known in their fields as leaders and yet they let their achievements speak for themselves.

What then of a company that advertises to hire a “Rockstar Developer”? If a company advertises for Ninjas, Gurus and Rockstars does the reader infer that they are a fun place to work with little hierarchy or that the environment will be competitive and celebrate the individual over the team as a whole? For me that distinction is too great of a risk, I wouldn’t want the advert to put people off applying for a job they might be otherwise perfect for, at the very least I’d prefer a part of the process to determine their fit rather than their reaction to a joke job title.  Whilst this might be true for me and the companies I recruit for if might not be the same for your organisations.  For example this video, recruiting developers for Kixeye, might illustrate they’d love some Ninjas to apply.  A company advertising might want to take the time to reflect on what their job title means for attraction.  Remember that whilst you might love the fact your business card proudly states you’re a “Ruby Ninja”, a “Marketing Badass” or even the “Chief Instigation Officer” (yes really!) the communication of these ideas is a two way street and your true meaning will always be affected by the listener’s own values, attitudes and beliefs.

Whatever your job title and however you want to portray yourself, awareness is key.  The next time you have to respond to this type of job title this site might help.  For employers who might be using these job titles just for the shock value, I’m afraid that time has already passed, perhaps you could consider becoming a not for “Prophets” organisation?


What Developers Want – A Data-Driven Approach to Writing Engaging Adverts

When writing job adverts recruiters are often left to rely on a brief chat with the hiring manager.  They sometimes get input from one of the friendlier engineers and pair this with an old job description that has been slowly rotting on their  careers site for the past year.  The output of these less than ideal circumstances is a rehashing of the old job spec.  Some added promises of an exciting “culture” and an oblique reference to some new technology you may or may not get to use.  The advert is posted in the normal places and with little fanfare proceeds to garner a lacklustre response from candidates. A talent pool that is already bombarded with competing offers.
There must be a better way.  What if we could write a job description using the same words and phrases that our target audience are looking for?  If we could ask a large enough group of people what they are looking for then we could pull themes and even individual words from this dataset to create and advert that was engaging. Better yet, we wouldn’t have to resort to the cliches and stock phrases from all the other job descriptions.
Coming by this dataset isn’t easy, few people have the time to go out and interview the hundreds of prospective candidates needed to make it representative.  Even if an employer did this the data would likely be skewed by experimenter bias.  If only there was a way of reliably collecting this data from developers who felt free to say whatever they wanted.  Recently I discovered a way to do exactly this. Better yet the data was already captured for me.
Hire my Friend is a new sourcing tool aiming to address the need for talent in the world of startups. Aiming to not expose that talent to unscrupulous recruiters or the volumes of spam they would receive on other sites.  Additionally it has some cool recommendation features, which made “endorsement” meaningful again.  I care more if a developer rates another developer highly than if the same assurance of expertise came from a colleague in sales, a school friend or their mum.
On looking at the tool I noticed that candidate profiles, though anonymous and containing all the usual information, also asked one important question.  “What are you looking for?”.  Suddenly I had impartial answers to that question from 13,000 (and growing) Engineers, Marketers and UX Designers.  After running a search for Ruby developers in London I had the data I needed, I pasted the answers into one long document and made that into a word cloud.  The larger the word the more frequently it occurs in the responses.
What Developers are actually looking for…

So what does this tell us?  Firstly that Hire my Friend’s users are very much on target.  The majority of users are looking for work in small, startup teams.  It’s the the details here that are more interesting for me.  I have always said that offering a job that is both rewarding and challenging is attractive, i.e. referring to actual problems to solve.  This is borne out by the answers given, the words problem, challenging, learning, solving and knowledge feature heavily.  The second biggest takeaway for me is the importance in stressing the “why” of the role you’re hiring for.  Why is the work important? How will it impact the larger team and the rest of the company?  In describing the work we should ensure that we stress those elements that are “creative”, “fascinating”, “exciting” and “cool”.

So given these answers how can we measure a job description against the data?  The same process can be used to evaluate our own job descriptions – here’s mine

From the advert

For me the obvious difference here is between the active and the passive.  The job description has some of the same elements but still has some scope to be a better match. In a passive sentence, the subject of the sentence is acted upon rather than performing the action.  For a potential candidate this could mean that they are left with a sense of being used like a resource or that their individual importance in being downplayed.  What job seeker wants to be part of a massive swathe of hiring to become a cog in a machine? None I’d want to hire.  As William Zinsser says in his book On Writing Well, “active verbs push hard and passive verbs tug fitfully” a job advert should be a compelling call to action.

I’m going to use the Hire my Friend data to write different adverts and do my own A/B test.  It will be interesting to see if matching the word choice and elevation of individual over the companies own needs makes the difference I think it will.  I’ll let you know how I get on.

Advertising a Vacancy in the Key of C#

There is a problem with advertising a vacancy on a job board.  Not just the general problem of the decline in qualified candidates having to use job boards to find a new role but also the problem of standing out in a sea of other text all advertising the same type of vacancies.  How can you make plain text stand out when it’s just the same as everything else?  Better yet how can you make it truly relevant to your target audience?  
If you take the time to look at what your competitors are putting on job boards you might notice some strange behaviours.  How many of the “adverts” are actually just job descriptions?  A job description and an job advertisement perform two very different functions and should look very different.  If you produce a job description and post that instead of telling a reader how amazing it would be for them to work for your company you’re posting a list of demands in HR Speak.
This is the equivalent of a car manufacturer televising the turning pages of the technical manual, it’s just so boring!  Stretching the analogy further an advert for a new job should be just as aspirational as for a new car – we want all the cornfields on fire, explosions and leather clad luxury of a car ad.  We want excitement, something that will appeal to the target audience and something that demonstrates that we, as an employer, understand them. 
Today I worked with one of our developers to write a job advertisement in C#.  What would have taken me an age obviously only took him a few seconds to write but the feedback was the best I’ve ever heard for any advertisement, after we finished he said – “I would apply”.We’re currently trialing a number of different styles of advertising for our jobs over on our StackOverflow company page.  It’s particularly useful because we can see both page views and applications so we’re better able to judge the effectiveness of an ad.  I’m hoping this ad in code as well as other versions we’re working on might encourage those that see them to explore a little further.
  1. using System;
  2. using System.Linq;
  3. namespace CriteoQuestions
  4. {
  5.     class Program
  6.     {
  7.         static readonly uint THRESHOLD = 5;
  8.         static uint Question(string text)
  9.         {
  10.             Console.WriteLine(text + ” [y/N]”);
  11.             string answer = Console.ReadLine();
  12.             return answer != null && answer.Equals(“y”) ? 1U : 0U;
  13.         }
  14.         static void Main()
  15.         {
  16.             string[] questionTexts =
  17.                 {
  18.                     “Looking for a new challenge?”,
  19.                     “Want to work in the heart of Paris?”,
  20.                     “Do you enjoy solving hard problems efficiently and creatively?”,
  21.                     “Would you like to work where Big Data is more than a buzz word?”,
  22.                     “Want to work on a product at true web scale with 30B HTTP requests and 2.5B unique banners displayed per day?”,
  23.                     “Would you like to know more?”
  24.                 };
  25.             uint score = questionTexts.Aggregate<stringuint>(0(current, text) => current + Question(text));
  26.             Console.WriteLine(score > THRESHOLD
  27.                                   ? @”Contact m.buckland@criteo.com today”
  28.                                   : @”That’s a shame, you can learn more at http://labs.criteo.com/ maybe we can change your mind?”);
  29.             Console.ReadLine();
  30.         }
  31.     }
  32. }
What other ways are there to stand out when advertising jobs online?  How can you make the limitations of plain text on a job board into advantages that will make your adverts stand out from the crowd?

Innovation in Sourcing – Standing out from the crowd

The word “Sourcing” has come to be used in a particular way recently.  In an age of “social recruiting” the meaning of sourcing has become narrowed to the point that it really only relates to new ways of searching the internet or the latest in a long line of software tools to interrogate ever growing datasets.  However, as recruiters, often we already know who we want to target.  We know the companies they work for, we know the skills they possess, we know their titles, in some cases we even know their names.  The overly stalkerish amongst us sometimes even know their addresses…

In recent years there have been a number of landmark instances using more non-traditional tactics.  New companies wanting to make an impact, older organisations seeking out particular known individuals or just a grand gesture of recruitment, recruitment as an event or spectacle, existing to generate a larger story with the resulting publicity driving even more people to learn about the company. Further, frustrations over “access” to these candidates forces more innovative companies to imagine more and more innovative solutions to get their message across.  Some are clever, some confrontational, but all of them have made an impact beyond their original target audience.  Here are some of my favourites from over the years.

In 2003 Electronic Arts in Canada took out some billboard space near the offices of rival games developer Radical Entertainment. Near enough to be read by the developers at Radical who had no problem working out that the message reads “We’re Hiring”.    The results of this obviously confrontational stance by EA didn’t really do them much good – the team at Radical garnered a lot of positive press. The public love an underdog it seems.  Founder and CEO at Radical, Ian Wilkinson sums it up well “This has been far more aggressive than past attempts, but I have no reason to believe that this will be any more effective.”

So overtly hostile attempts can often be jarring and work against you – at the very least they convey a lot more about the brand than was originally intended.  Here, EA were the giant trying to take down an independent success story, it didn’t work but it has been done better.

Enter Google.  In 2004 this billboard appeared near the Ralston exit leading to Santa Clara, California.  A prime location for attracting the attention of the employees of Silicon Valley as they sat in traffic on their way to work.  Free from any branding the billboard itself is a challenge.  Perfectly aimed at their target audience of engineers and researchers who love to solve problems.   The problem itself led to a url that in turn led to another problem and eventually a pay-off and reveal that it was a Google recruiting strategy.  This is still talked about today as being ground-breaking and it certainly aided in the establishment of the mythical status of Google’s hiring process.  Looking back it’s easy to assume that “of course it’s Google” but at the time they were pre-IPO, 1907 employees (as of March 2004) and they were already doing truly innovative things.  Interestingly, it also didn’t stop them pursuing other more “grey” tactics too – at the same time they were winning hearts and minds, and enjoying massive viral publicity with their billboard they were also sponsoring job adverts in their own search results.  As well as sponsoring traditional job applicant search terms they also sponsored ads on the keyword/name “Udi Manber”, who was then chief of Amazon.com’s search technology unit, A9.  It would be just two years later that Udi joined Google…

These are both still broadcast messages, though it’s true they act as a filter for talent, so the organisations only have to deal with those people who are able to answer the questions.  What if you already know who you want to talk to?  Not a type of person or a profile – what if you actually know the person?

Video game start-up Red 5 Studios handpicked about 100 dream candidates, spent time learning about their backgrounds and interests from social networks and personal blogs, and airmailed each one a personalized iPod, inside 5 artistic nested boxes complete with a recorded message from CEO Mark Kern. More than 90 recipients responded to the pitch, three left their jobs to come on board, and many more potential hires discovered the company through word-of-mouth buzz generated by the search.  Whilst it is true that these types of initiatives have a higher initial cost for the more price-conscious organisation this can be mitigated by the quality of the potential audience – they targeted their “dream” employees. The saving in costs versus the same approaches made through an third party recruitment firm are not to be sniffed at.  Chances are a single hire made through an agency would have exceeded the total cost of this project.  There’s also a third more intangible return on investment, the virality of this approach.  I am confident that there is a secondary impact of this type of approach the effect on other employees in the target organisation when told about the parcel and now the impact of this type of approach being shared on social media – the outlets of which have increased exponentially since Red 5 Studios did this in 2007.  


Facebook did something very similar in 2013 for hardware engineers.  As a pilot program they sent branded Raspberry Pi’s to potential candidates they had identified as a good potential fit.  On connecting the credit-card-sized single-board computer they were presented with a personalized video giving them a tour of the working environment and a brief of where they would potentially fit in.  This type of approach is hard to ignore.

A mobile handset manufacturer could send their latest handset with a willing hiring manager’s number pre-installed?  This would both show off the product and demonstrate the value the company see in the candidate.  Spotify already send tongue-in-cheek playlists to potential candidates, demonstrating the product in a fun way as well as letting the candidate know they are hiring.  There are dozens of these initiatives going on all the time.  Sitting back and waiting to resumes is unforgivable – what can your organisation do to differentiate itself?    

Video Nasties…they’ve got a recruiting video we should make one quick!

In an online world where YouTube is king of the video realm there are still many pretenders to the crown. There are in fact so many video hosting sites and aggregators of the web video that it was only a matter of time before the recruiting departments of the world’s corporations jumped both feet first on to the bandwagon to give us an insight into why they are the right choice for candidates. Like websites in the early 90’s there is a odd emotion of curiosity mixed with panic around the phenomenon. Online recruitment video is the new must have and when used well can only enhance the online brand of the company they represent. Of course there is a flip side to this and some companies seem dead set on trying to destroy their credibility at 24 frames a second and all in glorious technicolour.

So here are some examples, followed by my own lop-sided bias as to what I think works or doesn’t work about them.

If you have to say something is “cool” it isn’t. If you have to say something is “fun” it isn’t. This is akin to finding your parents are using Facebook or watching an Uncle dance at a wedding.

OK so “Cool” shouldn’t be stated explicitly. What about “Happy”? What do people do when they’re happy?

Sometimes when I watch old episodes of “Friends” I think they look a bit dated. The 90’s were a long time ago and this video from 2001 (BC?) looks a little less than fresh… It might also be a symptom of my British cynicism that means I balk at the almost religious fervour displayed by the “choir”.

It’s easy to get this very very wrong. However, it’s just as easy to not fail completely but perhaps to dilute your message and to attempt to cover all bases thus alienating a good number of your target audience.

Modern net savvy consumers are aware of the mediated reality in which they operate. The self-referential irreverent style of post-modernity has become the norm for those companies trying to illicit a response from Generation Y. Flying in the face of this is “Corporate Branding 101” or iStockphoto-ism. This is where a large corporate either buys photos to use in it’s branding OR worse still commissions photos that end up looking like they’ve trawled a Google image search. I like this next video, but it does feel a bit “iStock” and thus the message is commuted to “false” in my mind at least.

Not that I’m using this as a reason to bash Microsoft per se but have you seen the Windows 7 release party video? This is so monstrously bad that at first I thought it was a parody. “Someone MUST be attempting irony, right? This is a joke? Right?”. A video so STUNNINGLY bad that Charlie Brooker was forced to coin the term “shitasmic” to describe it.

Back in the world of recruitment videos if you’re trying to attract people the ultimate goal of your video should be the projection of company culture. Video, more than anything else in the marketer’s remit has the potential to communicate the underlying values and attitudes towards employees without explicitly stating them. Why is this important? Why is it no longer OK to have a talking head on screen saying “This company I work for is cool”? For me the answer is simple…it’s not ok because if you work for the company, they’re paying your mortgage/rent you would say that! A “Great Place to Work” is inferred. Prospective candidates must feel aligned to the values or to those a video represents, in a recruiting campaign this is why we tell employee’s back stories or even introduce them in the first place. It’s also why so many corporate videos feature employees/actors of different ethnicities/genders etc in effect over proving their all encompassing nature, often despite the fact that we’re all pretty wise to this now.

So what does work in a recruiting video? For me it depends on who you’re trying to attract. There isn’t a coverall message for candidates – there can however be an coverall message of a company’s culture. A video can illustrate values and show the participants in that culture. True explicit mess ageing should be confined to “we are hiring” rather than the elitist “We are great…maybe you’re good enough to join us” which risks the alienation of the prospective employee.

This video from Connected Ventures (the people behind CollegeHumour and BustedTees) is a great example, people having fun (it looks genuine!) Certainly above all it communicates culture of a working environment, it’s a place where your colleagues are likely to get together and dance and sing! Whilst it may alienate some job seekers its a statement aimed squarely at the section of society they want to recruit.

Lip Dub – Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger from amandalynferri on Vimeo.

While this is all opinion and just my opinion there is one guiding factor… looking again at all these videos there is one clear deciding factor. Those that seem aware of their own culture and their audience have a couple million more views. As candidate sourcing is often about numbers of the right audience applying getting your message out to a few million more potential employees has to be something worth striving for.