not all jobs sell themselves

Not all jobs sell themselves.

Here’s an informal (and I should add, convivial) conversation I once had in a pub with the owner of a recruitment agency;

Me: What are you in the business of selling? You know, when you break it all down.”

Agency Owner: “Talent.”

Me: “Fuck off, seriously…”

Agency Owner: “OK, OK… Candidates.”

Me: “Who pays for those candidates?”

Agency Owner: “Clients.”

Me: “OK. And why do these clients choose you to find them these candidates?”

Agency Owner: “Because that’s what we do!”

Me: “Yeah, I know. But what is it you can do that they can’t?”

Agency Owner: “We find better candidates than they can.”

Me: “So you’re saying that you’re better at selling jobs than they are?”

Agency Owner: “Absolutely.”

Me: “So why don’t your job postings sell jobs?”

Agency owner: “They don’t?!”

Me: “No they don’t. They’re just prosaic lists of responsibilities and requirements. They read like a typical job specification.”

I then pulled out my phone and went to the jobs page on their website and started reading some of their job postings out loud.

Me: “You’re just publishing content that’s just telling people there’s a job vacancy, what they’d be doing and what they must have to apply. That’s only going to get the attention of people who are desperate and need another job, not people who might want a better job.”

Agency Owner: “Yeah but, we headhunt a lot of our candidates.”

Me: “And what do you tell these candidates when you call them to pitch your client’s jobs or when you first contact them on LinkedIn? I’m guessing you don’t just recite the job posting, right?”

Agency Owner: “Well no, obviously. We tell them what’s potentially great about that job.”

Me: “So why don’t you put that stuff in your job postings and your Inmails?”

Agency Owner: “Err…”

Me: “But you take my point that if you’re not selling anything about your client’s jobs, then you’re probably not attracting the best candidates, let alone talent? Which brings me back to what it is you’re really selling.”

Agency Owner: “Fuck off, Mitch…”

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