A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I posted an open position on a local college website, looking for a nanny. The post was this:
Denver couple looking for a nanny for our two- and five-year-old girls. You’d be working most Tuesdays and Thursdays during the day and on Wednesday nights with the option for additional hours throughout the week. The pay is $18/hour. If you’re interested, please contact us.
Now, on first glance, the post is fine. It shares what we’re looking for, basic logistics, and how much we’re offering. But, when you think a bit more deeply about it, there’s something vitally important missing.
It reads like every other post about open nanny positions. It says what everyone else is saying.
But, can you imagine if we posted something like this instead?
Hi! My husband and I are looking for a rockstar nanny to watch our two- and five-year-old girls on Tuesday and Thursdays during the day and on Wednesday nights. It’s a pretty awesome job. We live in a great neighborhood in Denver where there’s a ton of stuff to do with the kids. The zoo is only a 20-minute walk from our house, the Museum of Nature & Science is only 15-minutes away, and there are playgrounds all around our neighborhood. Needless to say, you aren’t going to be bored.
The girls are adorable (we’re biased). Our oldest will charm you with her smile, even if she pulls the typical eldest-child routine in moments of bossiness (we’re working on it). And, our youngest will constantly show you her latest drawings. Your fridge will never want for aww-inducing crayon masterpieces (we have a gallery of our own). She’s a spitfire, but the sweetest girl, especially when you get her alone.
What’s more important is that we’ll look at you as part of the family. Feel free to eat whatever you want when you’re at our house. And you’ll have a car to use when you need one. Finally, the pay is solid. We’re looking to pay out about $18/hour for the help. If you’re a fun-loving, outgoing person who loves kids, would you contact us? We’re so looking forward to meeting you!
See the difference? With the second one, you can feel the soul of the family. You understand a few our values and our humor, you can tell we’d be excited for the kids to be out and about, and you can see that we truly care for the person who’s about to spend a lot of time in our home and with our children.
Bringing it Back to Our Companies
This kind of thing is what I see companies get wrong all the time. Everyone writes job descriptions and marketing material just like everyone else, and we’re all just saying what everyone else is saying.
Why is that a problem?
Plain and simple: You don’t stand out.
No one knows who you really are. No one gets a sense of what you’re like, why they’d want to work for you, or what day-to-day life inside your company would feel like.
Think about the first example above. No one really got much other than the fact that we’re a “Denver couple.” That tells them where we live and that we’re partnered. But, in the second example, you get to see our personality. You get to know about us and our girls and what’s so special about not only us but our neighborhood.
Most job descriptions are the same way. They’re boring and they just share the facts. If you’re like most people, though, you crave a work culture where you feel like an actual human and do work that’s interesting. You have hobbies and values and where you work, what city you work in, and what you do for a living are meaningful to you. Yet, most job descriptions never give you that kind of insight or impression. After reading them, you have no sense of what it’s like to work at any particular place.
This also happens all the time in marketing materials. How many newsletters have you seen that just share the facts and don’t have any personality? It’s like they’re trying to be terrible and boring. Especially in a world where people are constantly bombarded with content, it is such a welcome surprise to see one land in your inbox that allows you to see the heart behind it, the personality and the soul of someone trying to tell you things they care about. That’s what audiences really get drawn to. That’s what makes them hit “Subscribe,” buy your product, go out of their way to listen to your podcast any time you release one, or anything else you’re trying to get people to care about.
How to Change It Up
If you’re going to make a change to your job descriptions or marketing materials, you have to start saying things differently. You have to dig into what lies behind who you really are. To get there, I suggest the following:
- Know your values. If you haven’t already listed out your values, then write them down today. Go away and figure out what makes the best values for your company. Here are ours.
- Know your mission. People want to work for companies that have a clear direction and focus, preferably something that elicits emotion, a bigger purpose. You know, “Start with Why.” And make sure that you have this nailed down before you do anything. Our biggest “why” is to give startups the power to create and grow, wherever they are.
- Define some themes and document it. Start writing down what you want people to know about you. Meaning, what messages do you want people to take away after reading something like a job description? You can start by just making a bunch of bullet points about this and then just find ways to start incorporating them into your materials consistently. For us, this looks like talking about being able to start and run a business “wherever you call home,” and why that’s important—because startups are the job creators, the values creators, and the wealth creators, both now and into the future.
- Pretend you’re sharing with friends. Start writing like you were trying to share the job with one of your closest friends. I always write my job descriptions as if I were writing to my best friend, Dave. I want to know whether he would look at this job and get excited about it, either for himself or a friend. Going back to the nanny position, he likely wouldn’t share the first example but probably would share the second one.
- Continue editing. For each of the roles we’ve ever put out to the world, we make serious revisions every time we post something. That way, we’re getting clearer and clearer with every role we put out to the world. Not to mention, a brand is a living thing. You’ll continue honing and refining your values and your personality over time, so it’s okay to continue editing as time goes on.
And…Can I Get Your Advice?
That all being said, I’d love your take on our job descriptions. We have a few open spots at GAN and I’d not only love for you to apply, but I’d also love your thoughts on the position descriptions. What would you change? What do you love? Just send me a note with any thoughts you have.