Recruiters: When Should You Consider Open-Ended Job Postings?

Mar 04, 2014 -

When you write up a job posting, you cover the usual familiar ground: What sort of candidate would be a good match for the position? What are the requisite experience and qualifications? Does the ad convey your company culture and sell the role to top talent?

But what if a job ad included none of that information? What if the job ad looked like this “Open-Ended Job!” from media company Upworthy?

 

No job title? No candidate specifications? What’s up with this weirdness?

We reached out to Melissa Trahan, Head of Talent at London-based Passion Capital and previously a recruiter for Massive Health and Facebook, to figure out why a company would opt for such an ad and what sort of results they should expect if they do.

Should your company recruit this way?

The utility of open-ended posting, Trahan says, depends on the size and focus of the company:

Small startups have very real limitations when it comes to hiring -- they can often only afford the roles they truly need, and they usually don't have a full-time recruiter to handle the administrative stuff, like sifting through text-heavy applications to find a person they don't even know if they need. Early startups often struggle with knowing what people they need vs. what people sound like they could be good to have around.

While these sorts of ads may expand the possibilities for a small startup, the distractions may outweigh the benefits, Trahan adds:

In theory, an open approach like UpWorthy's could help them determine their needs, but the noise of it could well be a distraction. For companies that have the ability to hire at a faster pace and have full-timers on board to handle that process, this kind of application could be a really fun way to diversify the pipeline and potentially create new roles.

If you’re recruiting for a bigger business, it might pay to go for it.

Ambiguous ad seeks creative, flexible candidate

Open-ended ads may also be most appropriate for environments that require a lot of creativity, much like UpWorthy’s, Trahan notes, as the very act of responding to such a posting signals comfort with ambiguity -- generally a plus at startups that are still too small for much structure and demand team members wear many hats.

“Perhaps this form of application is really just an audition for the creativity it takes to succeed in their environment,” she suggests.

What’s the bottom line? If your business has the HR resources to sift through what’s bound to be a highly mixed bag of applications and the sort of culture that would welcome the unconventional candidate, perhaps it’s worth a try. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

If roles are tightly defined or resources are so strained little time is left for recruiting, maybe give an open-ended job ad like UpWorthy’s a pass.

Have you ever tried posting job ads like this? Did they work for you?

Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London. She writes a daily column for Inc.com, contributes regularly to Forbes and Women 2.0 and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch and GigaOM, among others.

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