When you find yourself unwillingly self-employed*, each day employs a fairly predictable schedule:
6:00 am - 7:00 am: Wake up and shower
7:00 am - 7:55 am: Force kids through morning routine
8:00 am - 8:05 am: Deposit kids at school
8:05 am - 4:25 pm: Apply for jobs
4:30 pm - 4:45 pm: Entice kids (with candy) to actually leave school
5:00 pm - 9:00 pm: Dinner, dancing, and bedtime
9:00 pm - 11:00 pm: Check to see how many times I can give plasma in a given week
11:15 pm - 5:59 am: Dream about koala bears
Sometimes I throw a curve ball into my day -- a writing assignment here, adjunct teaching there. But I spend most of the daylight hours tinkering on the resume, designing my creative portfolio and browsing a whole lot of classified ads. And there are a whole lot of classified ads.
Each day I scour LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter, picking and choosing what companies will completely ignore my cover letters. Some jobs, Marketing Director for example, compliment my talents and experience like a shaken martini compliments a pretentious British spy. After a while, I convince myself to "stretch" my prospects, like Copywriting Assistant or Executive Pencil Sharpener. Now, after seven months of indifference, I can convince myself that I can fit just about every job available. After all, I can work nights, I am good with a shovel and I can keep my mouth shut.
However, no matter what level of desperation my bank account tells me to feel, there are some ads I will never answer. It has nothing to do with the actual position, but the choice of verbiage that makes blood run out of my eyes and pool up onto my keyboard. Which makes my laptop incredibly sticky.
Here is an example of a real job posting:
Are you a marketing rock star that likes to crush it? Do you like to have fun while thriving in a fast-paced environment? We're just the merry band of misfits that you should work for, and we're looking for a Social Media Specialist who can take their killer copy and plaster it all over the webs. We're talking Facebook (ads). We're talking Twitter (campaigns). We're talking Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat -- oh my. You think you have what it takes?
I can only imagine that after posting this ad, the HR manager sat back in his faux-leather chair with complete satisfaction, pushed up his sleeves on his Italian white sports jacket, and finger-gunned at his autographed picture of Spuds Mackenzie. Another killer post for DB, Inc.
I always wonder if these posts -- and they are numerous -- ever work. Do the DB, Inc's of the world find their ninja rock stars with mad skillz? It does seem like a reputable company, where your boss could be Ted "Theodore" Logon or Bill S. Presten, Esquire. And they do seem like a rockin' place who won't mismanage your hard earned 401(k) or forget to pay those "bummer" taxes.
Even if a candidate did emerge, I'm not sure that DB, Inc would want what was advertised. Lets check out some of these descriptions...
Rock star: Wants someone that's technically gifted and not afraid to lead the pack. Gets a drunk who shows up late for work and busts up conference hotel rooms.
Ninja: Wants someone that's professional yet independent. Gets a recluse with a mysterious past that may or may not include contract killing.
Crushes it: Wants someone who can produce perfect results under unrealistic deadlines. Gets someone who actually uses "Crush it" in daily conversation. Also uses "Wicked Awesome," "Sparkalicious," and "Cray, cray," because YOLO.
Fun-loving: Wants someone who won't get mad over supervisor/client demands. Gets someone who makes inappropriate comments and justifies them with "just joking"
Skillz: Wants...actually I have no idea. Gets one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and not the smart one. Bright side -- also a ninja.
I understand that as a corporate recruiter you must make your company seem awesome. Unfortunately, the more mirthful descriptions you pack into your ads, the more your place sounds like a high-turnover toxic cesspool filled with opportunists and narcissists. These are the same words your parents described the socks and cat toys your grandma gave you for your ninth birthday.
If you're having trouble getting applicants, maybe its your requirements, not your adjectives. Just say what you want and don't sugar coat it. It'll be fine -- trust me.
And stop putting "Monday morning team breakfast" as a perk. It's not. It's an obligation.
*Relive the story of unwilling self-employment here. That's called backlink, which is both informative and good for SEO purposes. Now that's a digital rockstar! (Plus, I just busted up an Embassy Suites.)
Jack Grubb writes an incredible blog, Losing the Internets, which is read by at least 37 people and over 2,100 Russian SPAM bots. In his spare time he helps small companies find their marketing voice. Jack currently lives deliberately in Appalachia, Kentucky with his wife, two daughters, Jack Russell and a Lego collection beyond compare.