Who here has been a job seeker before? Yes, you. You’re nodding. You remember, don’t you?
Go back there. Think about it for a second. I don’t know your circumstances, but the last time I was a job seeker my position was eliminated.
I still remember the exact moment my manager said it. I remember where I was sitting, even how dark the room was. I think I went through all the stages of grief at once on that call, then began the arduous process of the more extended version I would inevitably have to figure out.
The rejection. The hurt. I mean, I try to give it all. And all of me was not enough for this company. I felt worthless. Humiliated. It was bad. Then I was furious. “How dare they!”
Long story short, it was not a good time of life for me.
When I searched the job boards, the job postings were asking me if I was a “go-getter” or a “rockstar.” No Company ABC, I do not feel like going and getting a damn thing. I feel like shit. I mean, I guess I fit some of the rockstar criteria. However, I don’t know how impressed they would be with me showing up late and hungover to everything, then asking if I was a great rockstar.
Job postings piled up – more of the same shit, different brand.
It was like not one person considered for even a moment that behind my resume was a person, with a story. A story that sucked for me. But it kept coming like some lousy comedy roast. It got to the point where I’d want to screech like Pee Wee when they said those secret words.
It just didn’t feel fair. Here I am, riding along at rock bottom and you’re insisting I have to be at my best. At no point did I feel like they knew who I was, or that they would be considerate of me. I felt like they just wanted a clone of some fantastic picture. To manage a checklist, not create a career for me.
But I’m not special.
Now, I know my Aunt would hate that I’m saying that in front of all of you, but I don’t mean it in some self-deprecating way. Here is what I mean: every resume is a story, not just mine. There’s a heartbeat behind that resume and someone who cares — a human who very well may be having a hard time.
It’s just not easy to live in limbo. Our brains are wired for stasis and laced with expectations. We want to know what’s happening. But even more so in this scenario, we want to know how we’re going to put food on the table and a roof over our heads.
With that much on the line, how dare you. How dare you meet the momentum of a life that is changing with generic bullshit. How dare you make it 90% about you.
Seriously. Go back to my original question – do you remember what being a candidate feels like?
That. Don’t do that to people.
If you’re trying to “stand out” and be whatever “best in class” means, start there. Write your job postings like you know someone who’s not at their best is reading them. Write to them like you’re helping someone change their life – because they are.
Check out our on-demand job post writing course.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.