You can only make one first impression, so you want to make it a good one. You’ve heard this a million times. Yet, so many companies ignore this advice. In this competitive world, the impression we convey can either open or close a door.
We form quick opinions about people we meet. Same for a company. Walking into their facility, meeting their employees, reading their annual report or reviewing their website—all convey a certain message about them. Most recently I learned a lot about a company through a recruitment ad they placed on Craigslist seeking an assistant to the president called a “Director of First Impressions.” Yes, that’s the real position title.
A little background: One of my clients spotted this company’s ad and forwarded it to me seeking my first impression. Well, I formed one quickly and it wasn’t all that good. This small, but busy office, was seeking “a mature, think outside the box, open minded, assistant to the president.” So far so good–this should draw people I thought. The ad went on to state they wanted someone who “wants to prove themselves, make themselves invaluable, and if selected, retire from here in 30 years!” While I applaud their desire for a stable person who isn’t into job hopping, I would advise they be careful with their wording. “Retire from here in 30 years” could be code for “we want someone young” and that would be discriminatory. It gets worse. In describing their ideal candidate, they noted that they wanted someone with a sense of humor because “we are definitely not always politically correct.” Well, OK, but what does that mean? Here it comes: “the successful candidate should be aware that naughty words are spoken frequently and it is a male dominated culture…think cleavage.” What? Did they really mean to put that in writing? What kind of impression do they expect their Director of First Impressions to present? Is a certain dress expected? Are they suggesting only women should apply?
I can appreciate an employer’s desire to be a bit edgy; to convey a message that they are not a stodgy, uptight operation; even one that wants a team that works together and plays together. But emphasizing that you are “a male dominated culture” and “think cleavage” goes beyond the bounds and begs for trouble. This ad has sexual harassment and discrimination written all over it.
Controlling the impressions candidates and customers have of your company and workforce is critical. The perception they have of your business will determine whether they’ll do business with you or accept your job offer. You want to attract business and people to you rather than drive it away.
Recruitment ads that convey messages, subtle but intentional, that older employees need not apply or that crude language and objectification of women is the norm and acceptable, will not communicate a positive image of your company or attract star performers and could easily trigger a lawsuit. Who wants to work for a company that doesn’t respect all its employees? Sophomoric behavior is not professional.
We don’t know if this ad reflects who these people are or not—that’s the problem. Out first impression may be wrong, but it’s all we have. Impressions are formed within seconds and in a recruitment ad, there is no way to refute it.
Recruitment ads should promote your company, always putting it in a positive light. Clearly describe the job and what’s expected of the prospective employee. Describe the company, work atmosphere and culture along with the benefits of working there. Ads must convince a candidate to apply so the ad must sell. At the same time, be careful of the language you use. While you want to attract your ideal candidate, you do not want to ever turn people off. This ad does that. Individuals will not want to work there or do business with them.
If I were advising this company, I’d recommend that their new Director of First Impressions begin by improving this company’s first impression. It’s a turn-off.
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Other posts you might like:
- The 5 Pillars of a Strong Recruitment Brand
- Recruitment: Getting a “Yes” to Every Job Offer
- Recruitment Brand: The Magnet That Draws Candidates