Huh, maybe we should jazz up our “Jobs” page, you think, taking in the stock photos, bland description of your values and culture, and the lone quote from an employee who—oops—doesn’t even work here anymore.
But then your phone rings, and it’s one of your investors, and after that, you jump into a meeting with your engineers to discuss the features backlog, and then, you’re trying to work with a big customer who’s ready to jump ship… and next thing you know, it’s 9 P.M., you’re exhausted, and upgrading the jobs page has completely slipped your mind.
Sound familiar? The reality is, startup founders never have enough time to do everything that needs to get done. But prioritize other projects over a great “Jobs” page at your peril — because your ability to recruit the best candidates is seriously handicapped without one.
After all, most potential applicants are going to be using this section to judge your company. They’re wondering: will I fit in here? Is the work interesting and meaningful? What are the current employees like? How are the perks?
If your jobs page is generic or nondescript, it won’t answer any of those questions. Many talented people will take jobs with different startups, simply because those startups marketed themselves better.
Okay, so now you get why an engaging “Jobs” page is crucial. Read on to learn how to build one.
1. Interview Your Team Members
You could sit at your desk and brainstorm a long list of reasons why working for your startup is awesome — or you could talk to the people who actually work for your startup.
These conversations will probably surface reasons you would’ve never come up with on your own (like, “I’ve never worked on a team with so many Star Wars fanatics!”). More importantly, they’ll give you quotes for the page.
Employee quotes have a lot of power. Imagine if Twilio had simply written “We encourage our team members to go outside their comfort zone,” rather than including a quote) from their anti-fraud and short code manager Manasa Battula saying, “My eagerness to perform outside my comfort zone has been continuously encouraged and rewarded.” Having Battula’s quote makes the sentiment far more believable.
If you’re on a budget, you can use text quotes (ideally, with pictures of the people who provided them). However, if you have a bit more financial leeway, consider creating short videos, as Facebook has done. Video is one of the most engaging types of content, so it’ll help you create an emotional connection with potential applicants.
2. Identify Your Raison d’Etre
Okay, now you can go back to your desk, because this next step is all about you. Take 20 to 30 minutes purely thinking about why your startup exists. When you first decided to build your company, what problem were you trying to solve? Is that the same problem you’re trying to solve now? What excites you about the company? If everything goes well, what will the team and the business look like in one year? Three years? Five years?
Not only is this exercise a fantastic way to step back and make sure you’re focusing on the right things, it’ll also help you develop an inspiring one-sentence summary of your goals for the “Jobs” page.
For example, User Testing’s tagline is, “We make the world more user-friendly.”
It’s specific, but ambitious enough to make you think, Hey, I want to do that too.
Lookout’s tagline has some swagger: they’re plainly looking to attract youthful, high-energy candidates.
Whether you decide to be playful, serious, or somewhere in between, write something that no other company could use to describe itself. Many startups settle for lines like, “Join the best company in the world,” or “Come work with the smartest folks in the industry.” Since “the best” and “the smartest” are pretty subjective, lines like these are hard to take seriously.
3. Give Your Location Some Love
Candidates really care about where you’re located — which shouldn’t be too surprising, considering that if you hire them, they’ll need to live there.
Yet most “Jobs” pages don’t mention location at all. Or if they do, it’s in the job description itself, like GrubHub has done here.
You can make a position with your company much more appealing simply by talking up where your employees are based.
To give you an idea, check out how TextPlus incorporates its location on its “Jobs” page:
With a description like that, who wouldn’t be thrilled about moving to LA?
Mailchimp also does a stellar job playing up where it’s headquartered.
In the company’s main careers section, there’s this short blurb:
Click the Atlanta link, and you’re taken to a beautifully executed city guide that clearly shows Mailchimp is really passionate about and invested in the city.
No office? No problem. Having a distributed startup is actually a huge competetive advantage in recruiting; not only can virtually anyone apply to work with you, but most prospective employees would be thrilled to skip their commute.
On its “Jobs” page, Automattic highlights its “geographic variance” — and why that’s so awesome.
If you’re thinking, This advice is well and good for teams based around the world or in cool places like New York, or San Francisco, or Boston, but I’m in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania! How do I make our location sound, well, sexy?
Great question. Start by thinking about the things you appreciate about the place: maybe you love the year-round balmy weather, the proximity to great hiking and skiing, the friendliness of everyone you meet, the great scenery, and so forth. Ask your team members what they like. If you want, you can even Google “best parts about living in [name of city or town].”
You should be able to come up with a solid short paragraph of benefits — and that’s really all you need for the page.
4. Give It the “Beer Test”
You might’ve heard about — or even administered — the “beer test,” which hiring managers (usually at startups) use to see how well someone will fit in with the team. Basically, after candidates have gone through a traditional interview, you take them out for a beer with a small group of your current employees. If they get along with the others, they’re probably a good match; if they don’t, they’re probably not.
This test is innately flawed. (After all, some people don’t drink, some people don’t drink beer, and most people don’t want to be tested on their social skills or drink with their interviewer.) But you can actually use a variation of the beer test to measure the effectiveness of your “Jobs” page — as it’ll tell you whether you’re hitting the right note.
First, look at your page, and describe its personality in five to 10 words. Let’s use the Baremetrics “Jobs” page as an example.
To sum up this page’s personality, I’d go with “quirky,” “down-to-earth,” “dedicated,” “ambitious,” “fun,” “irreverent,” “passionate,” and “nerdy.”
Once you’ve characterized your page, ask yourself, “Would this ‘person’ get along with my current employees?”
The answer should be yes (unless, of course, you’re intentionally setting out to change your culture and the type of personalities you hire).
If you think, “No, this person would be a poor fit,” or “Honestly, this person doesn’t have a concrete personality,” that signals you need to change up the style of the writing, the information you’ve chosen to include, the design choices you’ve made, and the pictures and icons you’ve selected.
When you’re constantly running around putting out fires, spending (at least!) a solid day perfecting your “Jobs” page might sound completely unreasonable. However, it’s definitely worth the time investment. Sorting through resumes will go from a parade of “no’s” with the occasional “hell no” and the even rarer “maybe yes”—to a procession of “yes’s” and “oh, definitely’s.”