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Ovid (2709)

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Stuff with the Perl Foundation. A couple of patches in the Perl core. A few CPAN modules. That about sums it up.

Journal of Ovid (2709)

Wednesday September 03, 2003
02:51 PM

How not to write an ad

[ #14473 ]

I don't understand what it is that makes people's minds break down when it comes to writing a "help wanted" ad. While I was still job hunting, I read a lot of ads and while I wouldn't automatically dismiss anyone, I learned quickly that companies that use the term "world class" usually aren't. I particularly appreciated "work on the cutting edge of technology" being used as a euphemism for "we just learned". And need I say anything about companies that promise to "revolutionize" anything? Admittedly, there are some companies for whom the above descriptions might be accurate. They're names can usually fit on a sticky note. In bold, block letters.

Sometimes the job requirements are pretty astounding. One ad read something along the lines of "applicant must be able to work well with others in a productive environment". Well, as my last company demonstrated, I work well with others but we never actually seemed to produce anything. I don't think I want that on my resume even if it's not my fault that we only had two programmers on a project requiring six.

If you're writing an ad, here are some tips:

  • Look long and hard at all of your adjectives and adverbs. If they're not honest or don't contribute to the ad, remove them.
  • Tell me why I want to work for you -- but don't use hyperbole. Funny how many ads tell me what I must know but don't bother to sell the company.
  • If your buzzword is true, you still should grab a thesaurus.
  • If a college degree is not really required, don't list it.

Finally, one thing that I can't understand are ads that look something like this:

Required skills: Perl, Java, J2EE, C++, C, COM, Windows Programming, SQL, XUL, Rational Rose, Oracle, HTML, DHTML, CSS, JavaScript, Apache, UML.

This is an entry level position.

Yeah, we all stumble across variations of that one. The ad lists tons of buzzwords that I must know, but states either that it's a junior position or pays like a junior position. Naturally, when the interview comes, I find out that many if not most of "requirements" are "nice to haves".

Keep the HR department (or HR attitudes) away from technical help wanted ads. They don't know how to write them, they make your company look silly and what's worse, they run the risk of scaring off (or turning away) applicants who are not buzzword compliant.

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