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Why Our Job Descriptions and Your Cover Letters Are Mediocre (We’re Hiring!)

Finding and retaining the best talent is hard, even in an employment market that would seem to indicate otherwise. As a small business, we rely on some basic tools and assets to aid in finding the right people – emails, LinkedIn searches, phone calls, networking, social media properties, job posting sites, and of course…the job description.

If you haven’t written a job description, know that it’s not easy to write a good one. Even harder to write a great one. Nearly impossible to write one that stands out in the sea of sameness, marked by phrases such as “great opportunity for the right candidate that is driven by success” or “candidate should be able to deliver multiple projects on time and on budget.”

On the flip side, it’s not easy to write a good cover letter. I haven’t had to do that in quite some time, but I remember hating every single minute of it. Writing a good cover letter is made even more difficult by ambiguous job descriptions that show the above average job seeker that you, as the employer, really have no idea what you’re looking for.

Let’s make a compromise. We’re actively searching for an Account Manager, Content Writer/Editor, and entry-level marketers for Right Source Marketing. We intend to hire these people in the next 4 weeks, if not sooner. Our job descriptions are…just ok.

So let me break through the buzzword clutter and tell you what we’re really looking for, and in return you promise to stop writing crappy, typo-laden, boilerplate cover letters.

The Account Manager Position

What We Say: The right candidate will possess experience in managing multiple client accounts, be consultative in nature, and have a strong knowledge base in marketing, particularly digital marketing.

What We Mean: We’re a marketing firm. If you haven’t worked in marketing, and in particular digital marketing, you’re fighting an uphill battle. And if you’re hoping to work on that one big client that will make you earn you some type of Effie or Clio award, think again. You’ll handle multiple clients, and on a given day you may be working with a client that wants to talk business intelligence solutions, and another that wants to talk about apple sauce.

What We Say: Required – Strong written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills.

What We Mean: We hire people that are likeable, write well, speak well, and can do a day full of phone calls and meetings as easily as they can handle a day sitting at a desk and cranking out blog posts, client reports, or creative briefs.

What We Say: Please read the entire job description and review our website and blog before submitting.

What We Mean: We don’t care if you have worked on or with 499 of the Fortune 500. We’re different that your previous employer, our clients are different, and our thinking is different. Let us know that you are paying attention to that, and if you can’t see the difference between us and your previous employer, let us know so we can fix our messaging.

The Content Writer/Editor Position

What We Say: The selected candidate should write well, write efficiently, edit both concepts and copy, and do so with minimal direction.

What We Mean: Finding someone who can write their own stuff, edit other people’s stuff, and do both based on 20 minute conversations, is tough. But that’s what we need, and we know those folks are out there –we’ve already worked with them.

What We Say: Writing and editing experience (and a portfolio to prove it)

What We Mean: Don’t be intimidated by the portfolio thing. Just show us what you’ve written in the past, and make sure it’s not just a series of press releases – we need to see some variety. We’ll review that material, plus ask you to do a writing/editing exercise during the interview process. In other words, if you can write, and you can edit, it will shine through one way or the other.

What We Say: Preferred Skills – Experience in or with B2B-focused companies

What We Mean: Your average day will not be spent writing print ad concepts for consumer products. It may be spent coordinating content marketing efforts for professional services firms, software providers, and IT solutions companies. Developing content for B2B-focused companies requires a level of sophistication that a pure B2C writer/editor may not be accustomed to.

If you can handle the What We Mean parts of these descriptions, then by all means submit that cover letter and resume. Tell us who you are, why you think it might work between us, why you’re applying for this position vs. the thousands available elsewhere, and whether you liked this blog post or found it off-putting.

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Mike Sweeney and Right Source Marketing help organizations build their marketing strategy, organize the structure to accommodate that strategy, and deliver the specific services to execute that strategy. We do this through a unique model that provides senior level strategic consulting as well as specific services that cover every area of an organization’s marketing plan.