Talent Tip #63: Stand Out from the Crowd with an Eye-Catching Job Description
Standing out from the crowd can be a very good thing.
Now, I’m not referring to Miley Cyrus tweaking like a fool, Bjork dressed as a swan, or Lady Gaga in a meat dress. I mean standing out in a positive way.
Take, for instance, the job posting my friend Steve Sheldon recently sent me. It was perhaps the boldest job description on which I’ve laid eyes.
(Before I share excerpts, please note the advertisement is for a writer. When you see the plethora of grammatical errors in the description, you’ll understand why they need a writer. But let’s stay focused on the forest and not the trees!)
Here’s part of the description:
It might seem strange that we put “demands” in a post such as this. But then again, we’re looking for a unique sort of person. And we don’t want to waste your time or ours if it’s not going to be a good fit.
- First, we ask for and expect the best out of everyone we work with. If you’re used to coasting through life, please don’t bother applying. Even if you somehow got the job, we’d figure you out pretty quick and call it a day.
- Second, you’ll be expected to work to deadlines. We live and die by deadlines. Sometimes we have tight ones, so that means putting in an evening or the occasional weekend. If that’s going to be a problem, please don’t apply.
- Your word is the most important thing. If you can’t stick to a promise, this isn’t for you. We’re not kidding about this. If a call is set for 4pm, we start at four. Not 4:01 or 4:05. 4pm.
- Lastly, and this might sound a bit strange, but you need to see work as a virtue. We don’t have any interest in working with people just looking for a paycheck. Instead, we’re looking for excited people looking to make something of themselves – and working with us will help you do that. If you’re our sort of person, keep reading. If not, no worries. There’s plenty of other companies happy with mediocrity [emphasis mine; grammatical error theirs].
Wow, right? These guys aren’t messing around!
(And while I can’t help but chuckle at the irony of the grammatical error in the last sentence, I still maintain this is an eye-catching job description.)
Moreover, the advertisement employs the strategy of self-selection. I imagine that folks who are happy grinding it out in second gear won’t be chomping at the bit to apply for this role.
The application portion of the job description is just as good – maybe better.
Assuming you’re still with us, here’s how to apply.
Simply send an email with the following three things.
1. A brief letter explaining why you are the kind of person we’re looking for. Max 250 words.
2. A writing sample relevant to our audience. If you have one ready, just send that. If not, you’ll need to write one. Please no op-ed pieces on the prevalence of crazy cat videos on YouTube. Max 500 words.
3. An up-to-date copy of a resume/CV.
Beyond those three requirements, don’t hesitate to do something that you think will make you stand out. I’ll leave it to you to decide what that might be.
And finally, because so many people think that sending out resumes to opportunities they haven’t even read is a good strategy, here’s a tiny test.
When you send in your materials – on the very first line – before you put anything else – write this: “Editorial Writer” (quotation marks optional). That’s it. Then start a new paragraph and write whatever else you want below.
If you don’t do that, we’ll have no choice but to delete your materials without review [emphasis mine].
As someone who reviews dozens of job applications each day – a good quarter of which are incorrectly submitted – I got a little misty-eyed when I read this part. This warning lets candidates know you are serious about your requests and it also quickly weeds out those who don’t give a flying fig about following instructions.
So, to the hiring managers reading this: let this be an inspiration to you! You don’t need to wear a meat dress to garner attention! All you need to do is write a bold job description.
And don’t be afraid to include cut-and-dried application instructions. My guess is that you’ll find yourself reviewing a more conscientious – and likely higher quality – group of candidates.