I still think the best way to find great people to hire is to go where they hang out and talk to them.

But if you’re gonna post something online to tell people about your organization and to get them interesJob descriptionted… Joey deVilla over at Microsoft Canada has a good idea.

Just tell people about your business.

Check it out: Developer Evangelist. Toronto Area. Now Hiring. Maybe You?

Don’t post a job description. Well, deVilla does provide a copy of the thing — he stuck a link to it near the top of his posting, so you can look at it if you want to. But it doesn’t get in the way of his message. I mean, if the rest of what deVilla says about the job doesn’t get your motor running, why bother looking at the spec sheet from HR?

This ain’t rocket science. Here’s why deVilla scores major points with me. This is a guy talking about a job he loves doing himself. He’s telling you what gets him up in the morning, about his boss, about the cool gear you’d get to work with, about the team’s philosophy, and much more. The sort of stuff you wouldn’t ordinarily find out til you showed up for an interview.

Job description 2And that’s the point. deVilla is telling you up front what this gig is really like. Yah, he makes it look great — there’s definitely some selling going on here. But lordy, there’s no selling at all going on in that other document. If deVilla’s posting makes it look like working with his team is a party, that HR word pile up above makes it look like life in a straitjacket!

HR departments take note: Don’t waste people’s time with bureaucratic job descriptions that read like every other employer’s boilerplate. We all know what’s really in that tiny print: “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua…”

The key thing about what deVilla is doing is that he’s doing the recruiting himself. He’s not waiting for some personnel jockey to post a job or run an ad. deVilla is the guy in the department who does the work, telling the world what the gig is all about and what it’s like to work there.

One last comment about the job description itself, which, as I mentioned earlier, is found via image and link at the top of deVilla’s post: Bleahhhh. Take a look at that thing.

What, Microsoft doesn’t have any web designers doing work for the HR department? I mean, this looks like the drug interaction notice on that medical sheet the pharmacy gives you along with your new prescription. Gimme a break! Why doesn’t it look like deVilla’s posting? Blah blah blah 6-point type?? I barely got through the first two sentences. Does anybody believe anybody else reads this stuff? Come on — tell the lawyers and the compliance people to go home. A typeface and a layout like that tell you one thing: There’s something snarky and legal hidden in here and if you find it you’ll never apply. So, let deVilla write and format that thing so it says something.

Yo! Does this make sense to anybody? HR should get out of the recruiting business. (See Why HR? and REJECT! How HR engineered its own funeral.) Let the people who own the job tell the story. In fact, don’t let anybody else do it.

Recruiting. It’s the manager’s #1 job. And if managers aren’t doing it, they’re not doing their job. Kudos to deVilla and to his boss, and to Microsoft Canada.

My only advice to deVilla: Add an e-mail link, so interested applicants can talk to you directly. Don’t leave them with that dopey application form, because having inspired the best of them, you’re going to lose them if they can’t get in touch with you now. Please re-read the first line of this post. Now that you’re getting them to come hang out where you live, Open the door and talk to them.


  1. HAHA I completely agree with your assessment. Leave the HR, corporate crap in the office, show me/us/everyone what it’s really all about. If you read the writeup and are excited, then maybe you’re a viable candidate. If you’re bored, put off, or just ticked cause it’s long, then chances are, it’s not for you. hhhmmm the “descriptions” done it’s job then if you ask me.

    Very cool and ya, HR ppl should take notice. Great blog!

  2. I completely concur with this. I spend most of my life complaining about the unnecessary hoops that recruitment agencies want me to jump through to apply for jobs that they want me to apply for in order to fill a quota so they can make some money off my back. HR departments are just as bad.

    I could write an essay on this topic, but I’ll avoid polluting the comments any further. Awesome post Nick.

  3. @ Ben Alabaster
    You hit the nail on the head with your description about unnecessary HR hoops with recruitment agencies. All of the jobs any HR seems to post are boilerplate crap that, in my opinion, is why there are so many thousands of resumes sent for 1 job posting. Same sh**, different post by HR as well.

  4. Nick you just inspired me. i used to blame always luck, but after reading this post i just think about what i got through whole my life. isn’t that my hardwork.?

  5. Jaded readers might rejoin “…Yea, well everybody knows that applicants with squeezeboxes go to the head of the list!”

    But I wouldn’t say that…

  6. It’s way too long but yes, much more informative and motivational than a bland job description – but then that’s what all good advertising should be. The day in the life of or testimonial type advertisement is by no means new, it just seems to have lost out to the cut & pasted job description in recent times. I’m all for a return to creativity and a real sell of an organisation and the role they are recruiting for. It makes absolute sense to paint a picture and tell a story. if only more people would do so the web wouldn’t be littered with terrible job ads that are nothing more than badly written public notices.

  7. Looking at it from a wider perspective, one wonders what it says about a company/department if a manager couldn’t find at least one person to do something like this.

    I bet if you got rid of HR and made employees do the recruiting/PR for positions, you’d quickly learn the truth about whether or not your employees are making the most money for the company…….

  8. Maybe there is hope.

    I’ve found Nick’s coaching after my Fortune 50 organization shut down our ‘pawn’ department in a political chess match. 20 years as a passionate, creative person inside a button-down, by the numbers place was a tough slog.

    I had given up even considering large businesses, (let alone Fortune 50) ever again until I saw this. Thanks for the fresh air.

    HR folks take note: 1. there are lots of us out here who would respond to more-clearly written descriptions and 2. like deVilla, are far more valuable in cross-disciplinary, whole-brain jobs.

  9. He’s got the right idea. I’ve been taking us away from standard descriptions. someone felt it was overly long, I don’t always get the candidates I want to respond, but I’ve been getting kudos from applicants on the posting. And the last VP I recruited responded because of a very similar approach.

  10. Brilliant post. Couldn’t agree more that people want to learn about jobs from real people who are doing or have done the work…which is one of the reasons I started careerideas.com. It educates students and career changers about jobs via video interviews with real people. How can you decide what you want to do if you don’t have a clear understanding of how people really spend their time at work.