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My Favorite Job Post of All Time

Posted by Eric Putkonen on 10/14/2015 in Recruiting articles |

I am writing about job posts again, but it is what is primarily seen by potential candidates – active or passive.   Often, it is the first thing seen.

unhappyThink about it, a great professional who is not currently looking for a new job has a really bad day at work and decides to test the waters.  He or she will do a quick Google search, search Indeed or SimplyHired, or may even go to a niche or generic job board…or he or she may even visit the career sites of the companies he or she really would like to work for some day.  In any case, he or she will see the job post and determine whether or not to apply.  What and how we post is vitally important.

Several years ago I became aware of a job post that moved thousands to be willing to leave their current jobs and apply.  Getting the job meant 100% travel, long hours, a potentially hazardous environment, and all for low pay.  Doesn’t sound like a desirable job…does it?

The job post (reputedly) was from Ernest Shackleton for his South Pole expedition in 1913 (second of four attempts):

MEN WANTED

for hazardous journey, small wages,

bitter cold, long months of complete

darkness, constant danger, safe return

doubtful, honor and recognition in

case of success.

DiscoveryboatAnd as the story goes, the advertisement received over 3,000 applications.  Look at the job post though…it would speak to a certain kind of person.  Adventurous people who want fame would be attracted, but people who are not willing to leave family behind, not willing to risk their lives, who want high pay, who want it nice and easy, etc. would not apply.  This job post would make the wrong people self-select out and not apply.  At same time, making the ideal candidates very excited to apply.

What was not posted is something like the below (paraphrased into terms of how our normal job posts look these days):

Traveling Associate

Shackleton Ventures is a well funded startup and leader in the inspection and observation industry.  We are growing and looking to expand our team.

We value the ‘can do’ spirit and we value our employees.

Seeking candidates with endurance who can do manual labor and wear many hats.  Strong nautical and sledding experience desired.  Must enjoy the outdoors.  This position requires 100% travel.

Please send your resume and salary requirements to Ernest Shackleton.

Something like this would get very few applicants.  Why?

  • Boring title that is poorly written
  • First paragraph is about the company without saying anything special
  • Ad generally about what what the company wants, not what is in it for the candidate
  • Few negative realities to make candidates self select out – I like how the Shackleton job post says outright that it has low pay and you will likely die
  • It does not affect a potential candidate’s desire to apply

Furthermore, of the applicants you would get…

  • How many of them would be rejected as soon as you made them divulge their salary requirements and it was beyond the “small wages” that the hiring manager can afford?
  • How many would be found as not a fit because they do not have an adventurous spirit (culture fit)?
  • How many would say this job is not for them when they don’t like the cold or the dark (not to mention dangerous)?

This is why the Shackleton job post is my favorite job post…it is truly a great piece of marketing content to attract talent.

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