How not to write a job advert

Ah the dreaded job search! Stress, excitement, disappointment, expectation, apprehensions... We've all been through it.

These days, employers are not in a sitation of power anymore (or at least they shouldn't be). Most people realise a company needs talented designers and developers as much as they need the company. Finding a good match for a team is difficult and can be really time consuming.

Now we could make the whole process less painful simply with better job advert copy!

Being honest or being exciting?

You might be thinking sugar coating is not harmful and everyone does it. However, it does send a sad message when you can't find an honest way to sell yourself. Your company specialises in low-budget websites? You're helping small businesses that don't know anything about the web? Great! Say it out loud!

The days when developers in their bedroom were pretending to be bigger are over. People value small teams they can relate to. So please don't lie!

Don't oversell your company

"...and work in one of the best South West web agencies." Does this sound familiar? It is widely used by recruitment company to attract a variety of people, based on this simple formula: "if I advertise the position as exciting as possible, more people will be encouraged to apply, meaning more applicants to place" which could work in theory, but also have (avoidable) consequences.

Let's be realistic, companies and recruiters use templates. With all the job adverts created daily online, you can't expect every description to be 100% original (irony though: we do expect it from applicants). Every new position is an exciting and fantastic opportunity, superb and rare, every company is a leading agency, forward thinking, thriving, growing, well-established, innovative, cutting-edge, has great standards, ambition, and every salary is competitive...

Imagine the frustration: you're hired in a company with "passionate and dedicated" people - or so their website says - to find out everyone has given up and is only looking forward to the weekend.

Be realistic

Of course, being realistic about your company is always tricky and it's far from being as straight forward as lying or telling the truth. After all, everyone see themselves as talented, passionate or cutting-edge. Believe me, there's always a company doing it better than you!

Everyone crafts beautiful websites, everyone loves what they do... Oh really?

My point is: if everyone advertises themselves as great, great becomes a meaningless standard. Don't say it, show it and let people be the judge.

Don't require more than you need

Don't require abilities that won't be used or promise a supportive environment if you don't provide any. Learning, training and evolving is essential for developers and designers but small companies don't always have the means to do so, or the understanding of why it's important.

It's perfectly acceptable to be a small company who cannot provide the same benefits as a big or more established company. But you surely have something that can set you appart without having to overdo it!

Taking back the example of the low-budget company; maybe what you really need is a designer that can knock off some mockups in a very short amount of time and thrive in a fast paced environment. Or a developer able to interpret a whole design very quickly and happy to compromise between code quality and cutting corners when the project requires it. Ultimately, you might not need professionals that question your established process or your ethics. Instead, try to look for applicants who are happy to execute whatever work you need them to do.

And these people exist! But as long as you sugar coat your recruitment process with unrealistic promises, you will recruit people who don't get you or your company's mission. The consequences can be terrible: waste of time and money, burnout and eventually having to go through an unecessary recruitment process again.

I believe recruiting is about attracting like-minded people!

What are your thoughts about it? Have you struggled during a job search because of advert descriptions? Or do you think I'm completely barking up the wrong tree here?