Irish tech startup Quorum, blew us away with these well-crafted, honest and above all, inclusive job descriptions. They especially stand out amidst their ironic, cringeworthy anti-job posts (more on this below). The mind behind these brilliant job descriptions is Quorum's CEO Patrick Finlay. We sat down with Patrick to find out what went into crafting these job descriptions.
But first, a quick analysis of what makes this job description so good:
1. Bottom line up front: In the first lines of the description, candidates know what the company does, what stage the company is in, what's in it for them (compensation as well as what type of challenge) and where the job is located.
2. No long bulleted list of responsibilities and requirements: Instead a story is told that covers everything a candidate needs to know (and not more than that!). In a couple of short paragraphs, it's clear what a normal Tuesday looks like, what the impact will be of the work on the company, what the future looks like for this role and what's expected from a candidate right now.
3. What's in it for me: There's no false pretence that this job is the be-all and end-all for a mobile engineer. Instead, there's an earnest acknowledgment that job seekers are looking to get something out of their next job in order to advance their career.
4. Honesty about the drawbacks of the job: It's not often that companies are explicit about the negative aspects of a job. Being upfront about the cons of the job makes the pros that much more believable and trustworthy.
5. Inclusivity shines through: Adding a diversity statement to your job description is one way to show you'd like candidates from all walks of life to apply, but what's more effective is having inclusivity be the common thread of the entire job description. Quorum's job description puts a lot of effort into keeping candidates from disqualifying themselves. This is necessary in an industry where so many women and other underrepresented groups suffer from imposter syndrome and exclusion. Here are some lines from the job description that encourage candidates from non-traditional backgrounds to apply:
- "If you’re interested in being a mobile expert then that’s 2/3rds of the battle 🏅"
- "Whatever you do, please don’t filter yourself out!!! Hopefully, you get the idea of what we want you to do eventually. If this sounds like something that you also want to do eventually, then please get in touch. No one hits the ground running."
- "Most of all, if you’re excited by the challenge, then COUNT YOURSELF IN!"
- "We care about what you can do now, and how quickly you can learn. It doesn’t matter how you got here."
- "If in doubt, please reach out 🚀"
CS degree? Bootcamp? Taught yourself? Whatever. We care about what you can do now, and how quickly you can learn. It doesn’t matter how you got here.
So what's the general thought behind this job description?
Patrick's philosophy around hiring has been informed by his own experiences working in tech.
"I had bad imposter syndrome when I was first hired at Intercom. I had no experience with Ruby on Rails (the code Intercom uses) which was nerve-racking but I grew into that role. Intercom hires for potential and it's what's made me a big believer that people can pick up the necessary skills. For the stage we're in with Quorum, flexibility and ability to learn quickly is more important than experience."
"If I can start a job with no experience and thrive, then why wouldn't others be able to do the same?"
This mindset is reflected in the "About you" section in Quorum's job description. There's no long list of requirements. Rather the text does everything it can to keep people from self-selecting out.
What are you hoping to achieve with this job description?
"My main goal was to create a job post that's as inclusive as possible. I really wanted to make sure no one self-selected out while also attracting the kind of person that would thrive at an early stage startup."
"Creating the most exclusionary job post ever helped us inform what we wanted in our job posts."
"Creating anti-job posts helped to do this. This is an exercise we do more often in our team: think of the worst example possible and then do the opposite. We purposefully created 4 job posts that were as exclusionary and as cliché as possible".
What made you want to write a different kind of job description than what's out there?
"We see a lot of startups trying to show how fun and informal they are in their job posts (like Super Cool Startup™️). Often this is just for the sake of being non-standard instead of it actually being a reflection of the culture of the company. These days candidates can see through this. It's an attempt to be inclusive by differentiating from an exclusive corporate culture but it ends up being a different kind of exclusive."
"Candidates see through companies trying to be non-standard for the sake of it, instead of it being an actual reflection of the company culture."
"In the stage we're in with Quorum we need to do something noticeable. I think we're quite special - so I had to think about how we can give a glimpse of that in a job description without trying to be different just for the sake of it. Part of that was being as honest as possible."
Who inspired you to do this differently?
"In a podcast with the CEO of Lever, Sarah Nahm, she talked about how they wrote these internal documents about the impact of open roles. This included a description of what an employee would achieve in this role in 1, 3, 6 and 12 months. When they showed these internal docs to team members after they'd been hired they would light up and feel even more inspired about their role. This was the reason they started publishing these impact documents as job descriptions instead of a lengthy list of skills and requirements. This turned out to be a great way for Lever to diversify the people that were self-selecting into applying. This idea of an impact description was the starting point for Quorum's job descriptions."
Have a good look at Quorum's job posts here. Perhaps they'll inspire you to write better job descriptions when the time comes. If so, have a look at these guidelines on how to write a job description that attracts qualified and diverse talent.