Attracting talent

How to escape the '90s legacy of bland job posts

The internet is littered with bland job posts with little charm. We dive into why that is and how to break away from this '90s legacy.

How to escape the '90s legacy of bland job posts
Listen to this article. Audio recording by
Lydia Kooistra

In a past job I was responsible for creating new landing pages on the company website. Every now and then, I would also be asked to publish job openings. Despite the fact that I was regularly creating well-designed and well-written pages on the site, I followed an outdated process for publishing job posts. I would create a plain page with a few generic paragraphs describing the role and a list of bullet-pointed requirements. Needless to say, we struggled to get a lot of applicants for our open jobs.

It wasn't until I started working at Homerun that I realized how little sense this process made and that we would have attracted more talent with a rich and creative landing page that I was building for other purposes anyway. The reason this didn't occur to me at the time is simply because I didn't question the reasoning behind the process – "This is how we've always done it."

After a chat about this topic with Willem, co-founder of Homerun, I can no longer un-see the outdated practices that dominate the way many companies create and publish their job posts. It's as if this industry got stuck in the '90s. And even though the '90s are totally trending right now, this particular trend is not serving companies when it comes to attracting talent. Let's dive into why that is and how simple it can be to bring job posts into the 21st century.

A short history of job posts

Imagine a time with no job boards or LinkedIn...or internet for that matter. Job ads are published in local newspapers. The bigger the job post, the more it costs so it's important to be extremely concise when describing the role in the job ad. Hence, shorthand and bullet points!

Fast forward to the early '90s, and online job boards hit the scene. This meant more space and lower costs for advertising a job. But job posts are still limited to by format of the job boards and by '90s tech (tiny bandwidth). This was a time of literal transition from analog to digital. So online jobs posts emulated the job ads you found in the newspaper – bullet points dominated.

Early 2000s: the internet is becoming richer, more dynamic and companies are embracing all of it to reach their customers in new ways. But job posts are missing the boat. They continue to be bland. And there's no need to switch things up because employers are not having a hard time finding talent thanks to the bursting of the dot-com bubble.

A couple of years down the line, things are shifting. It's becoming harder and harder for companies to find good people to join their team. Employer branding becomes an important theme for big companies like Airbnb and Twitter as they compete for talent. For the first time, bigger companies are working hard at being attractive to talent. This leads to more riveting job ads and entire branded career sites that show off why these companies are great places to work.

About 5 years ago we started seeing smaller companies making use of employer branding tactics as well. They started creating better looking job posts, but these are still few and far between. So many companies are still all about these purely textual job posts full of bullet points lacking the charm, creativity and richness that the rest of internet is overflowing with.

The current state of job posts

Basically, for a long time, there was 0 innovation in job posts. There didn't need to be while there were more job seekers than there were jobs. Well, well, well how the turn tables...* These days there is a war on talent and many companies are still resorting to job posts that find their origin in newspaper ads or '90s job boards.

If you look critically at job posts around the internet you'll notice strange remnants from the past. One example being the use of PDFs that are then uploaded to LinkedIn. They read like internal briefing documents that no candidates should set eyes on if they want to know anything about what it's like to work at these companies.

Another odd example that's specific to the Netherlands (that's where we are 🙋 🇳🇱) is the abbreviation "m/v" that companies include in the title of a job post. The abbreviation means that the role is open to both men and women. In the past it was normal to indicate a preference ("m" or "v") but seeing as that's discrimination, companies no longer do that. It would make perfect sense to leave the "m/v" out altogether since it should be a given that roles are open to all genders. It goes to show that extremely old formats are being used for today's job posts. The process simply hasn't changed for years.

*Sorry, I have to include at least 1 Michael Scott reference per article 🤷. I don't make the rules. (Or do I?)

Why job posts are changing for the better

Thanks to a couple of neat developments over the past years, there's more opportunity than ever to drive innovation in job posts:

1. Hiring processes are starting to embrace branding and marketing methods

Companies have gotten so good at creating brands that customers love. These tactics are being translated to attract candidates. Storytelling with creative copy and design is what's helping companies show candidates what their company culture is like and what they stand for. This is what is speaking to candidates and getting them to apply. This is why hiring as a team is so important. If it's a shared responsibility between disciplines you're able to combine the strengths of HR, branding and marketing for a hiring dream team. And for companies that lack these resources, that's where no-code tools can really help out.

2. The emergence of no-code tools

The emergence of no-code tools have made it easier than ever to create great looking web content – tools like Webflow for the creation of websites, Bubble for making apps and Homerun for job posts. So you really don't have to be a designer or developer to create and publish great looking job posts anymore. With Homerun's Live Editor, anyone can easily create meaningful and modern job posts.

Image of Homerun's no code Live Editor to create engaging job posts.

This brings it within reach for HR managers in small teams and limited resources to stand out in the crowd and attract talent. With things like job post templates you can even publish a great looking job post in minutes! Homerun's job post templates are designed to stand out from the sea of bland job posts that dominate the internet. It's an easy place to start if you want to break away from the the '90s legacy of bland job posts.

📣 Need help putting together a compelling job post? Check out our complete guide to writing a job description or check out our job description templates

3. Companies are caring about their candidates as much as they care about their customers

Creating a pleasant and compelling user experience is a huge priority for companies. This mindset is now also being applied to candidates. Candidate experience is a theme that regularly comes up for anyone involved in hiring these days. And rightly so! How a job post looks and how it feels for candidates to apply will have direct impact on how talent perceives your company.

So there's really no good reason to have bland job posts. It's no longer hard to publish creative and well-designed job posts that can really reflect what it's like to work at your company. It's just a matter of breaking away from what's been done for years.

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About the author
With a passion for DE&I and a drive to dismantle hustle culture, Lydia creates content on hiring topics like inclusive job descriptions and Homerun’s four-day workweek. In her free time, you’ll find her cycling around Amsterdam (where she’s based), camping, cuddling cats and eating tacos.

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