Impact (or, Lack Thereof)
There's a thing called the tip of the spear - the pointy bit that leads the charge. There's a pun here: it's the first impression, be it literal or figurative. The moment of contact. For recruitment marketing, particularly when it comes to specific roles, that point is often the opening line of a job advertisement. The first time a candidate begins to think about a role with an organization. They may already be aware of your brand (consumer-facing organizations have an inherent advantage here), but if you're a behind-the-scenes services organization, that's a bit more of a challenge. In cases like that, the job ad Google serves up may well be their first contact with your entire brand. And the opening is the tip-of-the-tip.
And, while this is a generalization, they often tend to fall far short of the mark. The spear's tip doesn't make any impression, in other words.
How to Turn Off Anyone
Consider a scenario: you are recruiting for a research scientist for your DNA-sequencing startup. Your ideal hire happens to be up late one night, hooked on catching up on the latest research on the human genome. She's rifling through page after page online, when Google serves up a job ad to her based on her browsing history. A smart SEO-focused recruitment marketer chose the right keywords, and now they have a chance to get her attention.
Click, skip. The ad was served. Your ideal scanned the ad. And promptly moved on without applying, or even really considering doing so. Why?
It's fairly straightforward, and there's an increasingly large body of research into human motivations that can help understand that.
Humans - and most other animals - are wired to seek out stimulation. Part of the brain contains what is called as the seeking system, a term first coined by pioneering neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp. It's the system responsible for our motivated actions in relation to survival, and our desires. The seeking system is integral to our motivation, urge to explore, and desire to understand. It’s what is responsible for our feeling alive and alert, and for the positive experiences we seek in our lives. When we follow these urges, we receive a jolt of dopamine - a neurotransmitter linked to motivation and pleasure - which make us want to engage in these activities even more. And, when our seeking systems are activated, we feel more motivated, purposeful, and zestful.
As a result, we look out for experiences that give us this jolt - that dopamine surge. There are negatives to that instinct of course. If you've ever stayed up too late at night, endlessly clicking links online seeking out increasingly disparate information, taking quizzes of Facebook, etc, you've been under the influence of your seeking system. But, for job descriptions, it is critically important that recruitment marketers understand how to leverage that part of the human brain to gain literal mindshare.
Set the Hook From the Start
This is particularly important in the digital age. The researcher in this scenario was seeking stimulation, and there's a massive amount of it online. Endless links, news bites, tweets, headlines. Spotify playlists and Google holes to fall into. If your job description, particularly the opening line (singular) isn't compelling, doesn't seem to capture her attention, she's gone. Moved on. The trick is to get that hook in her brain, in the moment. In the words of journalism: don't bury the lead. Capture her with the possible, the idea that what she's reading is going to reward her. Pull her in.
"This desire to search is not just about fulfilling our physical needs. Panksepp says that humans can get just as excited about abstract rewards as tangible ones. He says that when we get thrilled about the world of ideas, about making intellectual connections, about divining meaning, it is the seeking circuits that are firing."
Slate: Seeking How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that’s dangerous.
The benefit, at least for now, is that it really isn't challenging to stand out. Consider these two examples of opening lines to job descriptions:
Option 1 does nothing. If anything, it brings up negative emotions, and creates an urge to avoid learning more. "If you take the SEEKING system away," Panksepp commented. "Your mental life is so compromised, you cannot live happily." In other words: this option is a repellent.
Option 2 excites. It implies excitement, and begins to fire up your seeking system. The urge to learn more kicks in, and gives you that click. Which, in a bit of irony, rewards the recruitment marketer with dopamines of their own.
We are all seeking something, after all.
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