Tech Insights: Turning Our Conception of a Job Ad Upside Down

I had a chance to meet with Maury Hanigan of Sparc (formerly Match-Click) at Talent Tech Labs in New York.  Her company produces a solution for creating recruitment advertisements.

I’ve written about this area before (GlideHR) and noted how badly written most job ads are. But whereas GlideHR aims to take terrible advertisements and replace them with good ones; Sparc wants to turn our conception of what a job ad is upside down.

Sparc replaces a written job description with 20 second video clips. That makes sense for the younger generation where everything is mobile and no one reads anymore.

Capturing the spirit of transparency

More radical is that rather than have carefully produced corporate videos with professional actors (“Here at Acme Corporation we only produce the finest products“) they get the hiring manager to say a little about the job, the kind of person they are looking for, and why it’s a good place to work. Co-workers also chime in with their own 20 second videos.

This is radical because instead of spending a lot to stun candidates with an impressive brand, we say to candidates “Hey, we’re going to show you the real thing.” It captures a spirit of transparency that is at odds with the traditions of corporate America.

With this comes another subtle change.

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In the past, someone might apply for a position as an administration assistant at Acme Corporation. Now, under Sparc’s model, you are applying to be Marie’s administrative assistant working beside Jackson and Phil. If there is another open position for an administrative assistant at Acme it would have a different set of 20 second videos associated with it.

The idea that there is a standardized position of administrative assistant is a bit of myth; the positions vary enormously depending on who the manager is and who’s on the team. Sparc’s approach to advertising a job captures this reality.

What is interesting?

  • It will be interesting to see which organizations buy into this new way of thinking. It all makes sense; but are we really ready for what makes sense?

What is really important?

  • You may be highly experienced in advertising jobs; you know how to write a great job description, and you may constantly be improving your skills. But along comes a new generation of candidates and a new technology and you find much of what you knew is out of date. Old processes, no matter how well you’ve refined them, are rendered obsolete. We need to learn to love this world of disruptive change because, really, we don’t have any choice.

About the Author

David Creelman, CEO of Creelman Research, is a globally recognized thinker on people analytics and talent management. Some of his more interesting projects included:

  • Conducted workshops around the world on the practical aspects of people analytics
  • Took business leaders from Japan’s Recruit Co. on a tour of US tech companies (Recruit eventually bought Indeed.com for $1 billion)
  • Studied the relationship between Boards and HR (won Walker Award)
  • Spoke at the World Bank in Paris on HR reporting
  • Co-authored Lead the Work: Navigating a world beyond employment with John Boudreau and Ravin Jesuthasan. The book was endorsed by the CHROs of IBM, LinkedIn and Starbucks.
  • Worked with Dr. Wanda Wallace on “Leading when you are not the expert” which topped the “Most Popular List” on the Harvard Business Review’s blog.
  • Worked with Dr. Henry Mintzberg on peer coaching, David’s learning modules are among the most popular topics.

Currently David is helping organizations to get on-track with people analytics.

This work led to him being made a Fellow for the Centre of Evidence-based Management (Netherlands) for his contributions to the field.

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