If you want to hire a great person, you need to offer a great job, not a laundry-list of skills, experiences and competencies that at best is no more than an ill-defined lateral transfer surrounded by some generic boilerplate. This is even more important today with candidates leaving within 90 days after starting if the new job turns out to be more promise than substance (Fortune, May 2022).

Creating a great job begins by developing the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) before writing the job description. Ask the hiring manager this question first to set the stage that this will be a different approach for defining the role:

Why would an outstanding candidate – whether active or passive – want this job for anything other than the compensation package?

Then ask this question:

What are the big challenges the person will be handling as part of this that would make it a great job?

Now identify just 2-3 super skills the person would need to possess to successfully handle this role. This is all you’ll need to identify 15-20 strong candidates for the spot using LinkedIn’s powerful filtering system, a bit of “creative” Boolean and some knowledge of what the best people do differently than the rest. For example, searching on the term “patents” will bring up strong engineers, “mentor” will bring up people who are leaders and “quota” will bring up sales people who are proud they made it.

But even with a great job, it’s still hard to get these people to respond to your messages. What’s even harder is getting these people to talk to you and convincing them that your opening represents a career move. This is where strong recruiting skills are essential.

It’s important to recognize that recruiting is not waiting for someone to apply to your job or answer your email saying he/she is ready to move. It’s proactively reaching out to top-notch people and persuading them to at least consider the idea of changing jobs. One way to increase your initial response rate is to add taglines that capture the EVP either as part of the title or the first line in all your job descriptions.

Using the intake meeting to determine the perfect tagline for your job post

Creating a great tagline starts during the intake meeting with the hiring manager. The primary objective of this meeting is to convert the job into a true career opportunity for someone. As an absolute minimum, this requires the following information and commitment from the hiring manager:

  1. Describe the job as a series of critical performance objectives, not a laundry list of skills.
  2. Get the hiring manager to develop the employee value proposition (EVP) explaining why the spot is a better job for someone who already has a good job doing similar work.
  3. Obtain the hiring manager’s commitment to have an exploratory call with someone who can do the work but needs more information to seriously consider the job.

Based on this you’ll be able to create some compelling messages and taglines that inspire the “right” person to read the full job posting, respond to your emails or return your voice mail messages. This is called “job branding.” Once you try it you’ll discover it trumps employer branding when it comes to attracting stronger and more diverse talent for more senior roles.

Using job branding and taglines to capture a candidate’s intrinsic motivators

For example, many years ago I saw a job description prepared by the McFrank and Williams recruitment advertising agency that’s a true classic for a cost analyst position:

Cost Analyst: Your attention to detail drives our corporate profitability.

This is a lot better than saying “Must have 5+ years of experience, a degree in accounting and be detailed-oriented.” You know your recruitment advertising messages are working when candidates tell you the ad “spoke to them.”

One way to start developing these motivators is to review Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Zig Ziglar’s belief that “sales is helping people get what they want,” and Coach John’s Wooden’s Pyramid of Success shown below.

Based on this basic understanding of human nature and the drivers of on-the-job success, you’ll be able to create a short tagline that will capture the candidate’s intrinsic motivator.

Some examples will help you understand this messaging concept.

A talent leader used this one to find nurses for a hospital’s medivac program in less than a week after the traditional job posting failed miserably:

Flight Nurses – Helping Save Lives Everyday

Here’s one we created for a controller of a small movie film production company. The CEO wanted someone from a big entertainment company. We found some great candidates within 24 hours.

Oscar-Winning Controller – Get Out of the Numbers and Make a Difference

Here’s one for a Sales Operations Manager who needed to provide sales leaders the info needed to manage a sales team tripling in size over the next 12 months:

Sales Operations Manager: You and Salesforce.com Bring Insight Never Seen Before

Of course, getting a person to respond to your messages is critical, but this is just a starting point. These taglines will certainly help, but then the person needs to be compelled to read the entire job posting or email (which both need to be as exciting and as compelling as the tagline) and contact you directly. Then on the first phone call the recruiter needs to demonstrate that the difference between what your opening offers and what the person is doing today is a true career move. And if it is, the next step is an exploratory conversation with the hiring manager.

Hiring top talent requires a great job in combination with a multi-level sophisticated marketing program, a skilled recruiter and an engaged hiring manager. But it must start with a great message that captures the attention of the person in less than 140 characters.