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Oct 28, 2016

One of my favorite people in the analytics world is Mark Goldberg (now at McFrank & Williams). He called me to talk about the use of data in creating job ads, but ended up impressing me even more by talking about the role of mindset in creating those ads. Let’s look at both tools.

Mindset: Consumer product advertisements talk about the product. Job advertisements talk about the job. Ok, that seems similar, but there is a subtle difference in perspective. Consumer ads focus on what the consumer wants. Job ads focus, not on what the candidate wants, but largely on what the company wants.

Goldberg points out that a simple shift from saying “You need to have these traits” to “You will thrive if you have these traits” moves the focus from what the company wants to what the candidate wants — and that makes for much more effective recruitment.

So even before we begin to think about data or analytics we really have to get our mindset right. Subtle differences in mindset can have a big impact on where we end up.

Data: How do we write candidate-centric job ads? We could hire an expert copywriter but a more interesting approach is to gather data. According to Goldberg, one of the best sources of data is the employees already in the job you are trying to fill. Ask them what traits enable someone to thrive and you can get rich, specific and credible insights.

It seems pretty simple, and yet this simple use of data is usually overlooked.

What is interesting?

  • As soon as we hear “decisions-based on data” we presume there is going to be some sophisticated math. In fact, what matters is shifting from a world of unstructured opinion to a world of carefully consider fact. This case is a good example of how data supports better decisions, but does not depend on statistics or algorithms.

What is really important?

  • Companies often skip the step of translating the list of what it needs from an employee, to something rather different: a list of what will attract the employee who meets those needs.
  • Talent acquisition departments really struggle to get the funds to do things like experiment with different types of jobs ads. Without experiments it’s hard to learn, and without learning recruiting is never going to be as effective as it should be.
  • Whatever our mindset, we will be more successful if we ask “What data can help us make a more informed decision?” and then seek that data out.

Note to my readers: I’m always interested in innovative firms that signal where HR is heading. I love these firms that are striving to make a difference, but many are startups and a mention does not necessarily mean they’ll be right for you.