Blurred Lines: Creativity in Job Postings

After a free job rewrite workshop, attendees always send me their latest and greatest. It’s a proud moment for both of us. As a writing coach, few things make me smile as much as seeing someone’s writing after they are empowered to figure shit out.

I feel a little cheesy saying it, but when I witness that kind of initiative I know they’re going to make a difference. They do too.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a recruiter from an outdoor sports warehouse. Think guns and camo store. He rewrote a job posting to add creativity and wanted to know what I thought. I was excited to see what he wrote.

You like big bucks, and you can not lie.

I know there was that moment where I tilted my head in genuine confusion. “I guess it’s not bad,” I thought.

“It’s still not good,” was my next thought. So instead of some long drawn out email, I created this diagram.

I like big bucks and i can not lie

I also shared this note:

People like to hunt. People like Sir-Mix-A-Lot. I don’t have a lot of confidence that these two groups overlap very often.

But a hunting Sir-Mix-A-Lot is not the most offensive creativity I’ve seen in a job posting.

In an attempt to put culture on display, people cross this “creative – creepy line.” We laugh at it on Twitter. But the real problem isn’t creativity. Maybe you are weird enough to think that asking a candidate if they are a coffee bean, an egg or water is a valid question.

The problem is that creativity is added to job postings without any meaning.

“Dauntingly vague” is how the Atlantic described job postings, and that’s hauntingly accurate.

Why does that happen so often? Well, there’s a meaning that we as recruiters can contextualize because we’re on the inside. We write about it in a job post but that does nothing to create a connection with a candidate. They’re left feeling like an outsider at your party, not a respected guest.

Bottom line: if anyone on either side of this hiring equation isn’t 100% clear on what’s going to happen at this job and why they should change their life for this after reading your job post, it’s not good enough.

We are not on the same page. Our job postings don’t talk about work the same way candidates do. If you’re not even speaking the same language, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. And I can tell you right now – no full-grown adult gets on Indeed and types in “Ninja jobs in Madison Wisconsin.”

Ok, maybe they do. But you get my point. Most of us over the age of 7 know that ninja is not an actual job. So why are we littering our job posts with it? Let’s use a little common sense here. If a candidate can’t find you, they can’t apply.

These mismatches frustrate everyone. All because we couldn’t have a 30-minute conversation with a hiring manager to ask some questions about the best person for the role, and write something that appeals to them.

Oh, and by the way. Convincing yourself job posts don’t matter? That’s actually the most offensive creativity in a job posting.

Learn to correct your misconceptions at our on demand job post writing course.


Kat Kibben View All →

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,, 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.

1 Comment Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: