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Improving Job Postings Using Lessons From Snapchat

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: A finger is posed next to the Snapchat app logo on an iPad on August 3, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Carl Court via Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03: A finger is posed next to the Snapchat app logo on an iPad on August 3, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Job posters, your style could use a refresh. In the last 10 years, our entire way of communicating has been revolutionized by social media--Chevrolet went so far as to issue a news release in all emoji! Yet, with a few notable exceptions, job postings are written the same way they were in the 80s--and people then thought the Flock of Seagulls haircut was a good idea.

It's time for us to take a few baby steps toward the twenty-teens and rethink how we approach potential job prospects. Given the importance of social media in the way we communicate, it may be helpful to mimic some of the changes it brought about. And, if we're going to mimic social media, we may as well use the app of the moment as our model--Snapchat.

Why Snapchat?

Why not Facebook? Why not Twitter? Why not Instagram? Snapchat represents the convergence of the trends introduced by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like. It's emblematic of the changes in communication that emerged from each of those media. Like Facebook, it's a way to express yourself in interesting ways. Like Twitter, it favours brevity. And like Instagram, it values the visual over the textual.

Variety is the spice of life

Social media values the novel above all. Daily we are confronted with new hot takes, new memes and new influencers. Snapchat is all about constantly creating new content--it encourages users to build their own stories using snaps of images and videos. Viewers are fed a constant stream of new material from their network, which advances the various narratives they're following. Compare that to the average job posting. Let's say you're reading a post for a Marketing Specialist. For most postings, I suspect that if you traded any line (possibly any paragraph) in the job description and replaced it with any other Marketing Specialist posting, the typical job seeker wouldn't notice. If that's the case, both of those job postings are failing to differentiate one company from the other.

Companies should be injecting personality into their job descriptions that reflect the company narrative. Use your job postings to tell a story. If a company values creativity, they could tell a short story of a day in the life of a RadCo employee. If a company values honesty, they could highlight their whistleblower hotline. The important thing is to show that your company is different in some way from all of the companies you're competing with for employees.

Brevity is the soul of wit

Snapchat is all about quick interactions that get your point across with as little information as possible. Social media in general trends toward the very brief or the very long--an ideal Tweet is 100 characters, whereas a solid blog post is somewhere around 1,500 words. Snapchat, as a more visual medium, combines very few words with compelling visuals to get the point across. A job posting obviously requires more information than a snap, but you should do whatever you can to get rid of extraneous information. Job seekers know you're looking for a highly motivated self-starter; it's par for the course. Again, focus on the elements of the job (and your company!) that distinguish it from the hundreds of other jobs out there and identify the core differentiators you're looking for in a candidate. Cut everything else.

A picture is worth a thousand words*

*Subject to picture/word exchange rate fluctuations

As mentioned above, Snapchat uses photos and a little bit of text to tell stories. As social media has become a more and more dominant form of communication, we are seeing an increasing share of content become at least partially visual. Companies would do well to incorporate visual elements into their job postings. At the most basic level, you could include photos of your workspace, of company outings, and of the type of work the candidate can expect. To jump back to the marketing specialist, why not include pictures of marketing materials that you're especially proud of--the type of materials that help make a killer portfolio. Allowing the potential candidate to get a sense of the company before they even apply can help draw the people who will fit best in your organization.

You do you

While I think that a lot of companies could benefit from taking a more creative approach to job postings, there's often a lot of resistance to doing something new, especially in more bureaucratic organizations. However, as British spy agency MI5 showed with a job posting for a Head of Health and Safety, even a serious organization can add a dash of personality. Ultimately, it's up to you to figure out a) what type of person you want to hire, and b) what will capture their attention. Recruiting the best candidates will always be a challenge...all you can do is try to stand out from the pack.

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