3 ways how you do not attract talent with your job offer

During the last two years I have recruited for a few companies and have been on interviewing marathons for many weeks. I have tried to master the art of finding good employees and have been able to land some good hires, thanks to my amazing HR teams. During this course, I also came across many, many fatal errors in recruiting and HR management, here are some of them:

(Obviously) bulk-hire for quantity

An ex colleague of mine once posted a job offer in a private forum that was headlined:

We are searching for 50 developers (PHP, Ruby, Python)

That, ladies and gentlemen, is an insult to everybody who is looking for a challenge. The only place where you will find excitment for a job offer like that is in a place where people are desperately searching for any job to pay their rent.

The way to destroy all excitement about any job offering is to make it look like your are just filling a gap, just searching for workforce. You take all the meaning out of a man’s or woman’s career if you make it look like something that just needs to be done. It is the single most unmotivating thing you can do in the long haul and it starts with job offers like that.

Ask the top dog to deliver quantity and do the dirty work

Programming – for example – is craftsmenship: You can learn it and almost everybody can do it, some way or the other. Software engineering is something different and has to do with creativity, experience and many forms of intelligence. To a developer, creating software is like creating a table for a carpenter: It can be done easily and you can do it in a few hours. You can make it look nice with a little more effort and you can even make it look amazing if you have a little bit of an artist in you.

Yet, if you want to create a masterpiece, you will go about it differently: You will research where to buy the finest wood. You will look at different techniques to handle it. You will talk to other people that work in your area of expertise and you will create a masterplan of a table and then you will either build it on your own or tell someone to do it for you, exactly the way you want it!

My point being: If you ask someone to build a table, just any table and he or she actually does it. Go on with your search!

Try to sell a job, that you don’t actually have

When the average person sees a job advert, they ask themselves:

Do I have what they want?

The approach that many companies go for is a different one: They look at what other companies that already hired excellent talent (Google, Faceook, etc.) can offer their employees and try to copy it. The assumption that will make this approach fail is, that the talents those companies hired were actually joining them because of those benefits. If you hire someone with the benefit of a kicker table in the office, fresh fruit every day and a coffee machine and you are successfull at it, then you are extremely lucky. Or the complete opposite, because that person was not very ambitious from the start.

Alongside that, many companie’s then try to create jobs that they actually do not have. They pretend to be searching for an IT architect when they really just want to hire a dozen developers. They say they are searching for someone ‚with analytical skills‘ when all they need is some poor schmuck to fill out speadsheets and do some adwords campaigning.

Talented people are not searching for a job, but they are looking for opportunities!


  1. Do not bulk hire, don’t search for  X developers or X writers
  2. Do not try to make smart people do boring or even stupid things
  3. Do not pretend to have a job opening for a postion that you actually don’t need to fill

Maybe in a few days there will be an article with some techniques that worked out quite well for me, so stay tuned!

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