The Single Biggest Recruiting Mistake (and How to Turn Your Job Ad Into a Powerful Magnet to Attract Your Ideal Candidate)

Content was originally published on on May 25, 2017. 

Do you have an open position that you just can’t seem to fill? Having an open position for longer then 30 days has turned out to be a real hot spot for our business coaching clients – recruiting more effectively to find the right people for your open seats on the bus.

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In fact, I was talking with Adrian, a long-time client who has had a need for two staff members to grow his professional services firm. “David, our biggest limiting factor right now is more professional staff to handle the demand we’ve got. We’re right at max capacity right now.”

Another client, Klayton, was recruiting for key blue collar service techs for his commercial ductwork company. “David, we’ve literally got hundreds of thousands of dollars of work that we’re having to schedule out several months because I can’t find the qualified technicians I need to create one or two more crew teams.”

But when I did a deeper dive, both of these very smart business leaders were making the very same recruiting mistake.

Here’s what it is: They looked at their “job ad” the way 90% of the business world does – as a “posting” for an open position. WRONG!

Instead I want you to think like a direct marketer. Ask, What is the single biggest hot button for your ideal job candidate that would immediately grab their attention and make them salivate over your job opportunity?

For Klayton, he needed blue collar techs but he led with a job title, “Duct Work Technician”. When I asked him the above question he said, “They want year-round work. They’re tired of seasonal work in construction, only to be let go in the winter.”

We changed his ad first paragraph to: “Year round full time work with established maintenance company. Looking for 3 quality, reliable technicians to help us service our year round long term duct cleaning contracts with large area apartment complexes. If you’re reliable and looking for a stable, long term opportunity, we’ll train you to do the technical work…”

Can you see how this small shift in perspective – to see your ad from the eye of a direct marketer, not just as a job posting, totally changed the feel and power of the ad?

Adrian’s need was different. He needed to find high achievers who would fit in with his law firm’s culture of high pace, high expectations, and high abilities. I suggested that he lead his ad with, “A Players Only: Leading area law firm looking for two paralegals at the top of their game. If you’re looking to do challenging work in an environment of excellence…

So the next time you have a position to fill, start by asking who your ideal hirer is. What would is his or her most important hot button to lead your ad’s headline with? How can you use your opening paragraph to pull them into your job opportunity?

If you enjoyed the ideas I shared, then I encourage you to download a free copy of my newest book, Build a Business, Not a Job. Click here for full details and to get your complimentary copy.




Keywords: executive coaching, business coaching, business coaching program, build a business not a job, grow your business, negotiation

Business David is a Wall Street Journal and Business Week bestselling author of 11 business and financial books. A syndicated columnist for and, David’s articles have appeared in over 6,500 publications. As the founder and CEO of Maui Mastermind®, David has worked with 100,000+ business coaching clients and community members to buy, build, and sell over $5 billion of businesses.