If you slap together a substandard ad, don’t expect a great response, says Luz Iglesias of recruitment company Hirefly.

hamburger I recently saw some advice to hiring managers that went like this: Writing a job ad is like making a hamburger. The meat is a list of job duties that you probably have lying around already, and the bun is an intro and outro line that you add to make it all make sense. When you need to hire, slap your patty in a bun and throw your hamburger on a job board and bingo bango, you’re on your way to a great hire!

Now, I don’t need to go on about how hiring people is the most important thing ever. But at the least, I need to say that this lazy, slapdash approach to hiring stinks.

With advice like that from “experts” in the field, it’s no wonder that hiring is broken. It’s no wonder that people spend hours wading through terrible résumés, when all they’ve done to set themselves up for a great hire is flip a hamburger patty.

Some really smart people have figured out that there are seven categories (seven whole categories!) of information that candidates consider before choosing a job:

  1. job characteristics
  2. organizational characteristics
  3. recruiter behaviors
  4. recruitment process characteristics
  5. perceived fit
  6. perceived alternatives
  7. hiring expectancies

Sounds complicated, right?

The good news is that there is one category that is most important to candidates at the very start of their search.

It’s called “perceived fit” and refers to the candidate’s perception of how well his or her goals, values and ideals will suit the job and organization. In simple terms, that means that when a candidate is first considering whether to go for your job or not, they are mostly considering whether their goals, values, and ideals suit your job and your organization.

They’re asking themselves, “I really like positive people and having fun at work – are these positive people who have fun?” or “I need my work to make a difference in people’s lives – does this organization really care?” or “Learning and advancing are super important to me – do these people create opportunities for growth?”

So if you are following the old hamburger advice – bun, duties, bun – you are not actually providing information about the No. 1 thing that potential candidates care about at that time.

Hamburger ads don’t help a candidate assess whether their goals, values, and ideals line up with yours.

And since we know that perceived fit is the characteristic that candidates most care about early in their job search, we have to conclude that these job ads stink.

(By the way, candidates are super interested in job characteristics like duties and compensation; they’re just more interested in those things later in the recruitment process.)

Related: How Entrepreneurs Can  Compete with Corporate Giants When Hiring

Unless you can afford to have recruiters chasing qualified people around for you, you are probably depending on your job ads to pull in good candidates. If that’s the case, candidates who don’t apply to your job ad are…well…not candidates.

The job ad’s purpose is to compel people to apply to your job or else you won’t even be able to consider them. We’ve long forgotten that a job ad is an advertisement and if it’s not showing off your unique goals, values, and ideals, it’s failing at its purpose.

Even if you don’t have a budget for fancy professionals to write your ads, you can still create one that shows off your unique goals, values, and ideals.[pullquote_right]Even if you don’t have a budget for fancy professionals to write your ads, you can still create one that shows off your unique goals, values, and ideals.[/pullquote_right]

The tone, language, and content of your ad should all point towards your true culture (and I don’t mean those dusty words above reception; I mean what you actually care about).

Related: Entrepreneur Learns the Hard Way to Appreciate Employees

Talk honestly about what you’re trying to achieve, what your employees value in their work, what you do more and better than any other organization, and what it’s really like to work with you.

Thanks to those smart people I mentioned before, we also know that candidates will use even small clues to make inferences about fit. For example, if you have a picture of diverse people on your careers page, they might infer that you value diversity. If you have humor in your ad, they might infer that you have a fun and humorous culture. If you use sleek fonts and design, they might infer that you are progressive. Even little clues can mean a lot at this stage.

So stop giving candidates a giant hamburger of duties and start giving them your goals, values, and ideals so they can opt into jobs that fit and opt out of jobs that don’t. Get creative and get real.

Image Credits:
Flickr user Brenda Gottsabend
Flickr user chichacha