As the end of the year approaches, I’ve been thinking more and more about some of the lessons I’ve learned since I moved to London. I’ve realised that the one thing that stayed on my mind this entire year is job ads and recruitment advertising.
It seems that, even though many individuals would disagree, as an industry we still believe that “all publicity is good publicity”. I could come up with many examples here, but I’ll mention that secretary job ad as I’m pretty sure you’ll remember it. If not, considering it’s no longer available online, let me say it was using some very controversial imagery.
Instead of coming up with more examples, let me describe the mechanism that seemed to be at work every time this happened this year. A recruiter posts an offensive ad, then defends the ad when it starts getting noticed and in spite of all the negative comments and attention, the recruiter doesn’t take the ad down until it’s too late (i.e. until almost every other recruiter has a screenshot saved on their computer).
Why does this keep happening? I have a theory.
There’s no barrier to entry in recruitment (another widely discussed subject this year), except for maybe the hell that your first months in a recruitment agency seem to be. I haven’t gone through that myself, but I can only imagine the pressure you must be under when instead of training you’re immediately handed targets and KPIs.
The idea behind it seems to be that, as a newbie in recruitment with your base salary barely covering rent, you will be all the more motivated to seek training yourself. Or, even better, learn by doing. Full of enthusiasm, these trainee recruiters decide to get creative with their advertising and all a sudden the entire industry looks bad. Facebook is full of job ads featuring photos of breasts and starting with “now that I have your attention” (the one I found was for a developer, so you can imagine the reaction from those trying to get more women into tech) and LinkedIn is full of memes that aren’t funny or informative and job descriptions filled with offensive language.
Yes, sometimes these ads are published by experienced recruiters who, you’d think, should know better by now. But even then, I’d argue it’s because a vital piece of training was missing from their experience. Probably the most important piece of information necessary in any area, not just recruitment. Interestingly enough, while it’s something no one ever mentioned to me in a professional context, it’s what I was taught studying Employer Branding this year.
The first step in producing any creative content is research.
If everyone that’s new to recruitment researched ads that have already been published for similar roles, we may be able to avoid repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Mistakes that we’re all getting a reputation for in recruitment. All because of this one lesson we still haven’t learned.
And so this is my resolution for the near future. I won’t be waiting till New Year because, honestly, we’ve all waited way too long already. Instead of focusing on all the buzzwords we love: innovation, engagement, attracting millennials to our organisations, instead of all that, I’m making a commitment to work on the basics. No fancy names and false innovation, I’m working on being a decent recruiter. Starting with writing better job ads. If for no other reason than to spare recruitment bloggers having to produce more articles on “why your job ads suck”.