Backstage with Katrina Kibben: Q&A with a 2020 Strategic Talent Acquisition Conference Speaker
Are you speaking the same language as the talent you're trying to hire? Recent HCI research shows that high-performing organizations approach acquisition differently--they weigh previous experience alongside potential future opportunities at the organization, they consult diversity and inclusion specialists during the process, and they spend more time consulting with internal stakeholders about their hiring needs.
If you're struggling to find the right talent, it's time to rethink your acquisition process from the very beginning. What does your organization or your open job look like when candidates find it? This June, HCI's 2020 Strategic Talent Acquisition Conference will take place at the new and fabulous Encore Boston Harbor. We'll explore key challenges, including defining hiring criteria that make sense, removing unnecessary roadblocks in your TA strategy, and building an authentic employer brand.
But first, we went back to basics with Katrina Kibben, Founder of Three Ears Media and Writing Coach for Recruiters. Katrina will lead conference attendees through How to Write Better Job Postings: An Interactive Workshop on Day One of the event. She shared a few hints on improving job postings on our podcast, Nine to Thrive HR.
Big data. AI. New technologies and innovations. When it comes to improving the talent acquisition process, these topics often come to mind.
Yet there is one piece of the process that has been around for ages—the job posting. Why focus on job postings now? Haven’t we figured these things out yet?
KATRINA: I wish! It is broadly accepted that job postings are the currency of recruiting. You have to have one. But I’ve met very few people who have ever been taught to write one. That’s exactly why I started my company and why I offer workshops like the one we’ll have at the conference.
Also, I often hear from people that they don’t feel confident as writers, which is a big challenge. When you go into something feeling like you aren’t good at it from the beginning, of course you’re going to search for sales manager job postings and start copying and pasting. You copy and paste requirements and responsibilities instead of truly thinking about the person you’re trying to hire. You’re not writing content that makes potential candidates self-identify and say, “That’s me! I’m willing to change my whole life for this job.”
How does a thoughtlessly constructed job posting impact your ability to hire good quality candidates?
KATRINA: I think it crushes it. If we’re not asking the right questions, how can we ever expect to get the right answers to get the right people on our doorsteps? So often, I see job descriptions written like a wish list instead of a realistic description of someone with skills and experiences that can help a candidate self-identify.
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We often hear about recruitment marketing, but there is a distinct difference between being a great marketer and being a great recruiter. Marketers go into the world with one message that could please a million people, and they’ve done a great job if they convince them all. A recruiter has to create one message that goes out to a million people but has to narrow that group down to one. It sets us up for a unique challenge when it comes to copywriting.
What are some characteristics of a good job posting?
KATRINA: The number one difference between good and great is tone. A job posting should sound like it’s written about someone. It’s not a list of requirements and descriptions. You’re not hiring a computer. You’re hiring a person, so the job description should sound like it was written about a person. And write with clarity over creativity. Don’t go into the realm of asking offbeat questions. This writing task has one purpose—to make sure a reader can walk away and say, “I can do that job.” Make sure that happens.
Read the Research | Beyond the Interview: Strategies and Tools for Making Better Hiring Decisions
Also, write about experiences, not skills. Don’t ask for skills in the context of years or lists, because we all know that all skills are not created equal. If I have five years of experience hosting webinars at a company that has five webinars a week, I have more experience than someone who hosts one webinar a quarter for five years. That’s a big discrepancy, but it’s still five years of experience.
What will our 2020 Strategic Talent Acquisition Conference attendees walk away with after experiencing your workshop?
KATRINA: They’ll walk away with tactics and strategies so they can write a good job posting. They’ll know exactly what to do next.
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For example, you should be considering diversity and inclusion as you’re creating job postings. There is a lot of technical nuance to writing job postings that attract the right candidates without detracting diverse candidates. There are a few things I’ll share during my workshop to specifically touch on diversity.