March 3, 2017

How we hire - part 2: The job advert

In part 1 I outlined some of the things we do when hiring new people to join the team at Eagle Genomics. Now let’s look at some of the things that I think about when writing a job advertisement.

Let’s start with the term - advertisement. It really is an advert, for the company and the position. The market for technical talent is competitive, and you need to sell the company to prospective hires. Will they be working on something exciting? Is there opportunity for training and growth? What sets Eagle apart from the other companies that the person could potentially work for?

As well as selling the company and the position, here are some of the other key things I try to consider:

Hire for potential not for experience - I mentioned this in part 1, but it’s important to bear in mind all the time.

Balance between being specific and over-prescriptive - clearly there’s a certain skill level that is required for someone to start doing the job, but do you really need to exclude someone who doesn’t have some specific skill or piece of knowledge that they could pick up in a few weeks?

Not too formal - we’re a professional but informal company, the language of the job ad should reflect that.

Avoid internal jargon - I’ve seen a lot of job ads, particularly from larger companies, that are largely incomprehensible because of the terminology they use, and how they describe reporting structures and so forth.

Avoid unconscious bias - there are lots of terms that crop up in job adverts which appeal more to men than women. Also, exhaustive lists of prerequisites tend to put women off. There are tools like Textio which can analyse the language in your posts, spot unconscious biases, and make them more likely to appeal to a wide audience.

The salary question

Should you put the salary on job adverts or not? I think you should, as it shows transparency and reduces the potential for wasted time where we get well into the hiring process but then find out that expectations aren’t aligned. We specifically confirm that the stated salary range is appropriate during the initial phone screen to further avoid such misunderstandings. We’ve found that we tend to get a better response to our job adverts since we started putting the salary range on them.

Where to advertise

I could write a whole blog post on this, but we’ve found the most success from using personal networks. This is partly due to the fairly close community in which we work. That said, there’s a significant risk in limiting yourself to just people you know - you’ll end up with a homogeneous bubble and exclude fresh ideas and skills. Recently, we’ve found Stack Overflow Talent to be a great way of reaching software developers. Last but not least, be sure to make the most of your company’s social media presence - LinkedIn (paid job posts or just status updates), Twitter and so on.

So, your wonderful job advert is live and getting lots of interest. I’ll describe how we manage the application, hiring and onboarding process in the third part of this series of blog posts.

Topics: advert, Blog, hiring, job