When Writing a Job Ads – Start With Why

I’m currently reading Simon Sinek’s excellent book, Start with Why. One concept highlighted in the book is the idea of the Golden Circle. In summary, this is the idea that, as human beings, we often think and communicate first about WHAT, then HOW and occasionally we get to WHY. Sinek argues that this is backwards and we should reverse the order of these. For example, if I met someone for the first time and wanted to describe what Fitzii does, I may say:

“Fitzii is great online recruitment software, it lets you post jobs quickly, take advantage of reduced job board pricing, build your own careers page, and much more. We do this via an easy-to-use applicant tracking interface that assesses every candidate for fit and makes your jobs and candidates accessible wherever you are via secure cloud storage. And, oh yes, we also find you the best applicants for your job.”

This is all true of course, but by changing it slightly and reversing the order it sounds better.

“At Fitzii we’re passionate about ensuring that people find roles where they truly fit. We believe that by doing this we’ll make individuals happier and companies more productive. We’ve developed easy-to-use recruitment software that assesses every applicant for fit and provides access to your jobs and candidates in the cloud. With Fitzii you can quickly and easily post jobs, take advantage of reduced job board posting pricing, build your own careers page and much more.”

For more (elegant) examples, check out the book, or visit Sinek’s website.

Now think about a job ad you may have seen recently. Chances are it may go something like this:

Company X is a world leader in making widgets. We're looking to expand our Quality Team by adding a QA Technician at our Springfield facility.

  • Operating machinery
  • Running tests
  • Writing reports
  • Ability to work in a team environment
  • Experience of following quality guidelines
  • Knowledge of test procedures
Salary and benefits DOE. Interested applicants should send their resumes to careers@companyx.com.

This fictitious job ad is very clearly focused on the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. Potential applicants have no idea what the why is, and are simply applying because they are able to do what is required. The two big problems with this approach are firstly; it will do little to inspire applicants, especially star applicants, to apply; and, secondly, any alignment of a candidate with the purpose of the company is purely coincidental.

Luckily, fixing this is easy, by starting with the WHY:

We're Company X and we're making the world a safer place for children. We use innovative risk analysis and design processes to identify safety concerns in the home environment and create foolproof solutions. Some of our award-winning products include the Safety2000 Series and the Baby PROtect.

Our products are relied upon by parents everywhere and so quality is one of our top priorities. We’re currently looking to expand our Quality Team by adding a QA Technician at our Springfield facility.

You will be:
  • Working in a team environment
  • Following quality guidelines
  • Using test procedures
and will have the following responsibilities:
  • Operating machinery
  • Running tests
  • Writing reports
Salary and benefits DOE. If you're passionate about quality and safety please send your resume to careers@companyx.com.

You can see that the WHY-HOW-WHAT approach in the second ad is more compelling and will be much more likely to attract not only people that can do the job, but applicants that also identify and connect with the company and its vision. In short, this method will help you recruit the best talent.


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