Hiring hyperbole

This tweet from Ian was timely this morning as I’ve just started working on a new presentation that I am planning on trying out at Design Swansea later this summer which for now is titled — ‘Product is a team sport’. In theory it will cover my thoughts on building and leading a product team based on my experience of the last couple of years — good and bad.

The first section is intended to be about hiring. Which has been pretty newsworthy in certain corners of the web in the last few days since this post was featured on Medium and a couple of replies were also widely shared.

I also spent this morning reading ‘Smart & Gets Things Done’ by Joel Spolsky this morning based on a strong recommendation from Ant Miller.

I’ve also been skimming ‘Peopleware’ again and reading the Google Re:Work blog a lot. There is a seemingly never-ended reading list to get up to speed on the subject of building great digital teams. The interesting thing I’m learning is there is an awful lot of agreement about the common foundations needed but despite this it seems really rare to see much of the implemented.

Anyway to get back to where this started today I had been noting down some ideas of what I learned about writing job descriptions last year (I initially wrote about this back in Feb last year — it is an ongoing obsession).

  • Use job titles people recognise and are looking for. Check job boards and see what other people are using. Look at Google Trends. A little research goes a long way.
  • Don’t use familiar job titles and then create whole new role descriptions for them.
  • Write job descriptions in clear English. Avoid overwriting and local jargon (the odd technical Shibboleth is OK). Tools like Hemingway should not be underestimated.
  • Ask for help. I drafted job descriptions in the open and asked from comments from people with expertise in those kinds of roles. Find out what, if anything, is putting people off of applying based on the job ads. Then make the changes!
  • Support the ads with information about what the job will actually be like day to day. What will the successful person work on, with whom, using what kit — as much context as possible.
  • If possible share why you think they should work with you. What is the mission? Why is it important/interesting/innovative?
  • To get back to the start of this post — avoid hyperbole — ninjas, rockstars, wizards, sorcerers, warriors and gurus are all probably best left within your XBox (or my comic book collection!) This from Authentic Jobs I think sums it up perfectly →

This is all pretty basic and seems like common sense but like so much of the proposed good practice from this mountain of books and blogs it seems mostly ignored.

I mean if you are genuinely a ‘Web Wizard’ I’d probably love to meet you but I’m guessing just targeting you would be a bit discriminatory anyway!