Having identified where you want to post your job opening, you are now faced with what to write in it.
In my experience, most job openings seem to be written by formula, and a dull one at that:
[Insert school here] seeks a (choose adjective(s) here: dynamic, innovative, experienced, creative, etc.] for the position of [insert boring job title here]. [Insert School here] is a [insert adjective(s) here: leading, rigorous, challenging, etc.] located in [insert chamber of commerce description here, e.g., dynamic, peaceful, affordable, beautiful.] blah, blah, blah.
At this point, the text usually starts to list qualifications, requirements, and job duties which no one person could possibly perform and also lead anything resembling a normal life. You might as well tack on “walks on water and then turns it into wine, heals the sick, gives sight to the blind, and is willing to die a horrible death.”
Despite these unearthly expectations, people still apply for these jobs because (1) it’s a terrible job market and (2) they stop reading after the first couple of items.
But let me be clear: Job postings are not always about the applicants. Sometimes its about the candidates who see your posting but don’t take action.
Steve Jobs reputedly hired John Scully away from Pepsi by asking him “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?” While many people may argue that Scully’s tenure at Apple was a really bad hiring decision, Jobs question was nonetheless one heck of recruiting ploy. The query altered Scully’s mental framework. Knowing how to frame a question, or how to frame a job posting, can make the difference between finding good candidates and great candidates; between the solid and the spectacular.
Consider using different text depending on where you are posting the position. For example, on your school’s web site you may reasonably expect that candidates are interested in K-12 education in your geographical area. You can reasonably infer to use text that is more in keeping with other job postings and overall marketing message of the institution as a whole.
On job boards, especially those frequented by geeks, perhaps you’d like to be a bit more experimental and bold.
You could try issuing a challenge:
- Think you’re re really smarter than a third grader? Prove it!
- Did high school suck for you? Make it better.
- Would you rather fix the computer for some marketing nerd who could care less about you or thirty kids who think you’re the goddess of computerdom?
- Anyone can make money. Only a few can make lives.
- American education is broken. Fix it.
- Would you rather build your resume or build the future?
- Work for the coolest school this side of Starfleet Academy.
- Geniuses wanted. The merely brilliant need not apply.
- Dilbert wishes he had gone to school here.
- describe why someone should be interested in your school. What distinguishes you from other schools? How is this particular job going to be better than a similar one in another school? (Tip: substitute a competitor school’s name for your own and see if it still holds true. If so, you have not distinguished yourself.)
- get a second opinion. Run your posting by a trusted colleague, especially someone from another school, and ask them how they would respond if they saw it online.
- describe how to take action. Be very clear about the steps candidates should follow to apply including any or all of the following: letter of application and what it should include, a resume or longer curriculum vitae, an online portfolio, and to complete any online application that your school uses.1 Don’t include phone numbers if you don’t want calls. Don’t include personal email addresses but rather one that can be auto-forwarded to whoever is handling your hiring process. Do include physical addresses so applicants can Google your location and get a birds-eye view of it.
- use an industry-standard job title. Assume that some candidates might find your job by using standard search query terms. Even if your posting is on the creative end of the spectrum, try to include more common terminology to allow for search engines and searching humans to discover the information.
- keep it short. The posting is not the same as a job description nor is it a reiteration of annual performance objectives. It should be relatively short, 2-3 paragraphs in length. See “walks on water” above.
- format for the web. Depending on your posting site, you may be able to embed graphics and hyperlinks in the posting. If you can, make strategic use of these to draw attention to your posting and make it convenient for applicants to take action.
- The reason you ask for candidates to complete an application is that it often concludes with a statement indicating that the information in it is true and factual. If you later discover that the candidate lied on the application, that can be grounds for dismissal whereas misrepresentation on a resume may not. ↩