7 min read

Job Posts Suck

Why context is everything.
Job Posts Suck

Hello friends 👋,

This is the free weekly edition of our newsletter. The Pallet Post features conversations with awesomely insightful professionals, jobs from companies they recommend, and a few of our own unique takeaways.

Product Drops: ✋🎤 ⬇️

We've been working with some very exciting communities recently!

This week we announced a partnership with Luca Rossi of Refactoring. For all things remote an engineering, you can check out his board here:

We also dropped a partnership with Moment, a marketplace for creatives. You can check out their board here:

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Job search sucks. We'll be beating on that horse until we feel like we've fixed it. In anything that's not as it should be, there are macro-problems and micro-problems. Sometimes they're connected— like job-title naming having to do quite directly with SEO optimization (you want your job to appear in popular searches), and sometimes they're not— like job posts largely being fluff pieces for a company's vision and goals with years of experience required.

99% of job posts follow this structure:

  • Job Title
  • A paragraph on a company's mission / identity / values
  • Bullet points on what the job involves
  • Bullet points on what the job requires (skills / experience)
  • Benefits offered by literally every company in the world + one quirky one about how you can bring your dog to the office

This isn't necessarily the fault of companies. When something is the status quo, it's hard to get away from it. Especially if you need to hire 20+ people and need online job posts to act as an effective top-of-funnel for your pipeline. The "meatier" content usually comes after that first step, when a qualified candidate has applied and you can get on a Zoom call or (as we accelerate towards a post-covid world) meet up for coffee.

But there is an inefficiency here— companies are hiding their most effective recruiting tools, a genuinely compelling pitch or awareness of existing A+ talent, for the people who are "worth" showing it to. Qualified candidates can't be sure these elements even exist until after they've gone through the process of applying online and hopefully getting to an interview. They lack proper context at the point of their application.

It's a bit like an argument Austin Rief makes on paid newsletters:

Ignoring the fact that this is about an entirely different topic, something about it feels very connected. If you're a newsletter writer with zero free content, you're losing out on a valuable top-of-funnel for people who may be interested in paying. Those who do pay will either have to trust you personally, or receive some sort of referral from someone else who already pays.  

It's the same with job posts. Companies are losing out on qualified candidates because they're not utilizing enough context and providing enough valuable recruitment information to direct them towards their job over another.

If there are two identical job posts from two different companies that appear in the same search of someone who is qualified, I guess you better hope that your values or mission is more culturally aligned with the candidate than the other (obviously, there is a reality where the candidate chooses both, but that behavior is a result of a lack of information on the candidate's end).

Distinctions between job posts are also important because of the lack of signal offered by legacy job-search products. Huge recruiting marketplaces completely dilute the meaning of participation. When you see a job post on Indeed or LinkedIn, the platform itself cannot to tell you anything about why that job might be listed under a particular search.

Mix the lack of context provided by the platform and the gated nature of information sharing on the company side, and you get a perfect storm of information overload, making it extremely difficult for job-seekers to make efficient choices.  

So what is Pallet doing to fix this problem?

We've already talked about how creator and community job boards are a critical first step in providing job-seekers with curated, niche destinations to search for jobs that are more likely to align with their interests.

Last week's piece teased one superpower offered by our solution— from former Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, describing why he believes curated job listings work:

Alexis talks about the value of the context provided by embedding jobs into content– this week, I'd like to add to this idea and discuss why embedding content into individual job listings is a step closer to the job search we all have been looking for.

Today, we've released a feature that allows Pallet board runners to make specific comments on each job that goes through their system.  

While we believe that there is an inherent context provided by "Lenny's Job Board"— being that Lenny is a huge creator in the scope of product management, we don't believe we've pushed the envelope enough.  

Every job that gets posted to a Pallet board goes through a "review" process, where Pallet runners have to approve or deny each post. We've encouraged our hosts to even deny paid postings if they don't fit within the theme of the board at large.

Here’s an example of how a Curator on Pallet can personalize a job post:

At the stage of approval, a Pallet board runner is prompted to comment on the job.

Why might this role be valuable to some segment of candidates? How do you know the company, or more specifically, the person posting the job? What makes the company's product really special?

When a comment is made, it sits at the top of the job post:

In our example case used during testing, we chose to highlight the direct report that would be relevant to the job. The type of information is usually only privy to those who make it past the black box of the ATS.

For the board runner, it's an additional piece of content that enhances the value of their curative expertise to both their audience and business partners, while job seekers receive a huge signal boost on their job applications.  

Adding a personal note on a job is akin to a friend or former colleague recommending you apply for a job at a company they previously worked for. Job posts can only provide so much information about a role or a company– the rest of your understanding comes from research. Utilizing Google searches, sending DM's on LinkedIn to people you "share a connection" with (even though that connection was introducing yourself once in college), or scouring through Glassdoor reviews.

A friend or colleague's recommendation for a role bypasses all the research and noise. Their recommendation is a vote of confidence in the people you'd be working with, as well as the companies future trajectory. A friend, not a good one at least, wouldn't recommend you to apply for a terrible job– it would, among other things, make you question that person's judgement. We can extend this type of relationship to creators, their audiences, and the jobs they curate too.

By virtue of a job being on a board like Sahil's, you can reasonably assume that Sahil has either had close contact with people that work there, professional or personal, or he firmly believes in the companies mission or product(s). If Sahil started filling up his board with a ton of product management roles from Theranos (remember them?) you'd probably be a little suspicious of his motives. It's also not in the best interest of creators to prop up companies or roles they don't believe in or know anything about– it harms the foundational principle between a creator and their audience; trust.

It would be like advertising a product that doesn't work, or worse, is intentionally designed to scam people.  

So, when Sahil decides to include a personal note about a role, speaking to the fantastic company culture, the brilliance of their product, or even how the person you'll be working alongside is a brilliant and charismatic person, you'll know he means it.  

It's just good content for creators too. Imagine if Sahil provided a piece of insight about a startup, particularly about a new product feature they are working on– wouldn't you want to know that ahead of your application? Early tech startups are notoriously difficult to acquire information about, but if your application included a note about this new product feature as well as how you see yourself participating in building it – it can be even more powerful than the bullet points that are bound to follow. A personal note about a role gives candidates a leg up on the competition.

For a company receiving your application, it's a highly positive signal. It illustrates that you engage with the right pockets of the internet, and are thinking about similar things, whether that be product or culture.

This is only the start of how valuable this embedded content is for job seekers. When the creator you are interacting with transforms into a friendly recruiter, we've effectively stripped a layer away from the job search experience.

In the near future, we will be spreading the wealth, so to speak, allowing companies to answer custom questions set by job board runners. So Sahil may want to comment on a particular job that comes through his board, but he may also want companies to answer a specific question when they post a job, that exists outside of the normal scope of information you might include in a regular job post.

"Why is this role going to advance the career of financial analysts?"

The moral of the feature (story)?

The more context, the better.