Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Whats in a Job Ad?

For a long time now we’ve been worried about the habit we see in China of posting a job description in the space normally reserved for recruitment advertising copy. Over the past few months we’ve seen some absolute classics including one for a Financial Controller who listed in their requirements “must be able to use a calculator.”

As I come across more, I plan to post some of them to this blog. Here’s one that sets the tone quite well…a major industrial multinational seeking applicants online:

First, lets check out this position (right-click image to enlarge in a new window). Admin role, needs 5-10 years experience and offers somewhere between RMB1 and 50K per month. Not an awful lot to go on yet, so we read on…

By now everything is crystal-clear. I am confident that I can assume responsibility for “release SWS/JIS to operation” but not so sure that I am suited to “following up engineering change notice and owns reaction plan for execution”. What the..?

We believe that a job ad, (as opposed to a job description), should inspire the applicants to:
a) Read it
b) Consider it
c) Act on it (when appropriate)

And in order to achieve this, it must be:
a) Catchy – both visually and verbally
b) Informative and interesting (to the right person)
c) Include, and be linked to, a clear response procedure

There is far too much to say on how a good piece of recruitment copy should be written and we will soon be launching a short course on this exact theme but the fact remains that the majority of companies recruiting in China are not focusing as well as they should on this critical aspect of their recruitment process.

By failing to do so, they are generating superfluous applications from candidates who are not at all suited to the position simply because they haven’t understood it, as well as potentially turning away those most suited to the role as they felt no affinity with the position due to the same lack of clarity in the language used.

Two additional issues worthy of raising here that I will only touch on briefly today but you will see more about on this blog are:

1) The use of the English language….yes, they do require the incumbent to have good language skills but in order to better facilitate the “read, consider and act” response that we want, why not do it in their own native tongue?In their own language it is so much easier to paint a clear picture of not just “the role” but the opportunity that this job offers the right candidate.

The defensive stance of "we need our applicants to have good English so this screens out the others" doesn't hold water in my books. It is OK to assess their language ability based on their response (cover letter and resume) as well as telephone interviews and even by undergoing testing during screening at a later date.

Step one – find applicants, step two, from thosee applicants identify candidates. This is what “screening” is all about and its role lies not in the “attraction” phase of the recruitment process.

2) The use of a salary indication. Here, a salary of between RMB1,000 and 50,000 really is about as good as ignoring the issue altogether - the approach taken by the bulk of recruitment ads today in China. Proven time and again in the West to generate a higher volume of more targeted responses, Chinese recruiters still shy away from indicating salary levels in their job ads.

Candidates are not dumb. They know that if their previous role was Admin support at RMB 2,000 per month, they needn’t apply for the Admin Manager position elsewhere at RMB 15,000 per month. Likewise, but more important, is that with no indication of salary, the best candidates are left to guess as to whether their expectations can be met and more likely than not, being unsure about it, they will not bother apply. What is the harm in indicating a salary bracket? Is your negotiating power somehow diminished by doing so?

This role: RMB4,000-5,000 / month. Done! I can almost guarantee that in the organizational structure, this role has an even more narrow and clearly defined budget so why not put it out there!?

Recruitment copy is already one of my pet projects and at Oxus we ensure that our clients can write better copy for their job ads or we take on the task of writing it for them. It is the first major touch-point of the candidate journey and a vital part of employer communications that is currently being under-utilized to an extreme degree.

No comments:

Post a Comment