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Leadership / Hiring

1 Simple Switch Will Help You Land Rock-Star Talent

Have you considered turning your job 'ad' into a job 'invitation'?
1 Simple Switch Will Help You Land Rock-Star Talent
Image credit: Olaf Herschbach / EyeEm | Getty Images
- Contributor
Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended
5 min read

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As of December 2017, the latest unemployment rate from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics was 4.1 percent. This was great news for talent. But for employers, it meant they'd have to stand out even more from all the other job offers rock-star candidates might receive.

Related: Attract More Talent With Video Job Ads

Here, I'm borrowing the term author Jeff Hyman uses to title his new book, Recruit Rockstars. Hyman argues that the best way to attract quality team members is with job invitations.

Unlike traditional job ads, job invitations focus on the needs of the candidate, not the employer. Job ads list everything a candidate must have. Job invitations tell talent what a company has to offer.

"Just as in marketing, the key is to open up the candidate funnel by drawing candidates in," Hyman told me via email. "[Job invitations] provide enough context, yet leave candidates wanting to learn more."

Get them invested in your company.

Switching jobs requires time and energy. Traditional job ads don't show talent why they should put in that investment. Ads require potential employees to research a company's mission, culture and values. Why would those people do all that work if they already had a satisfactory job?

To gain talent's interest, Omer Molad, CEO and co-founder of job interview assessment platform Vervoe, makes the company mission the heart of his job invitations. Molad's Melbourne, Australia-based company has never paid for advertising or done formal recruitment marketing. But it always receives a large number of qualified candidates.

"[Featuring our mission] helps them easily figure out whether Vervoe is for them," Molad said in an email. "If they buy in, they're all the way in. This sets our funnel up for success from the get-go."

Hyman followed up on his own comment by pointing out the changing nature of jobs. As startups grow, it's likely a candidate will have a different role several months down the line, he said. If this person hasn't got a solid "connection" to the company, chances for a departure increase.

At the beginning of your job invitation, then, describe what makes your company special. Include information about its mission, its vision for the future, the culture and benefits. Perhaps most importantly, feature employee testimonials about the best aspects of working for the company. Having current employees comment will make your company's positive points that much more credible for candidates.

Drop that list of requirements.

Listing dozens of required skills in your job ad scares off talent. This list may be an effective screen to deter subpar applicants, but it also pushes away potential rock stars. Candidates who don't have every required skill might not apply, to save time.

Related: How to Stand Out During a Job Interview

Instead, paint a picture about the job's responsibilities. In the job invitation, walk candidates through a typical day. Describe the people with whom they'd be working. You might even describe an interest, such as hiking, that the whole team has in common. If the position involves working with clients, give an overview of what those clients do and how the employee would assist them.

Most important: Explain how the job fits into the bigger picture of the company. Tie its responsibilities to the company mission. Describe one task the employee would be doing every day that supports the organization's visions.

Start talking specific goals.

Great employees always strive to improve. When they see a set plan for progression in a job invitation, they're more likely to be excited from the beginning.

At San Francisco-based recruiting software Lever, each job invitation includes an impact description. This entails a list of what candidates can expect to accomplish within their first month, three months, six months and year of employment.

"We get strong, positive feedback from candidates about this approach," director of recruiting Amanda Bell said via email. "It shows that we've fully thought through how [candidates] will ramp up and have an impact even within the first 30 days."

When writing an impact description, consider what's realistic within each time frame. For example, after 30 days, an employee should be through onboarding and comfortable with most aspects of the job. Explain what that would specifically mean for the position. What training will have been completed? What tasks will this person have mastered? The more detailed the description, the better.

Ask for feedback.

Solicit feedback at the end of the job invitation. Encourage candidates to share their ideas in a cover letter or during the interview. Perhaps even provide writing prompts, such as, "If it were up to you, what is one change you'd make at our organization, and why?"

Promoting a two-way dialogue from the very beginning builds a solid foundation of openness, trust and transparency between candidates and the organization.

Related: This Tech Leader Does Job Interviews Over Email and Chat -- and Maybe You Should, Too

After processing a candidate's feedback, incorporate that feedback into the job interview. Ask questions that dig deeper into his or her ideas and suggestions. This will show potential employees that their ideas are heard and valued from the beginning -- setting a good precedent for a candidate's long-term employment.

Our Company Had a Minuscule Budget for Finding Talent. So We Decided to Get Crazy.