You just had a job open up in your non-profit organization and you need to fill that position. Before you reach for that old dusty job ad you have been using for the past few years, take a minute to answer the following questions:

  1. Are you happy with the applicant flow you are getting for the jobs you post?
  2. Are the applicants you are getting top quality applicants and were there several vying for your opening?
  3. Is your ad engaging and does it make your applicant want to apply?

If you answered no (or even ‘maybe not’) to any of the questions above, it is time to rethink that old job ad before you post it again. Because as the old adage goes, “If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten.” But wait, doesn’t getting more applicants mean that I need to spend more money? No, actually it doesn’t. If you write the job ad in the right way, you will increase your applicant flow and the quality of your applicants without spending a dime. This is fantastic news for the always tight budgets of nonprofit organizations! Am I right?

So, where do you begin?

Before you even sit down to write your job ad there are two things you need to do. The first thing is to define your goals. Golfers will tell you that before they set up their shot, they look ahead. They choose their target and then they set up to swing. Prepping to write your job ad really isn’t that much different. Deciding where you will go before you make your move will ensure you get there, or at least close. In order to have an ad that reaches your audience, you need to focus on three goals.

Goal #1 – Make people want to apply for your job. I know that this may feel contrary to what you have done in the past. Many believe that a job ad is supposed to scare away the applicants that aren’t the best fit for the job. “If they don’t want to jump through my hoops now, they won’t be that great of an employee”. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Your goal in writing the job ad is to convince them of what an amazing opportunity this job would be for them and for their career and also to answer their questions. What is the pay? Are there benefits? What are the hours? What will I be doing? What type of company is it that I would be working for?

Goal #2 – Make sure that people can find your listing. Job boards really are set up like mini search engines (think Google or Yahoo). The best way to make this happen is to infuse your job listing with common keywords that your applicants will use when searching for a job. Don’t forget to include the keyword in the title of the ad as well. If your opening is for a Part Time Lifeguard for your pool at the YMCA you represent, make sure that your title reflects this. Now is not the time to be creative or unique. PT Baywatch Babe might be funny to you, but no one is searching for that. Spell out Part Time and use terms that will help your position to be found.

Goal #3 – You want people to actually read your description. Many hiring managers and HR professionals use their legal job descriptions to post. These ads can be full of acronyms, legal language, and overused bullet points. Believe me, you don’t want people falling asleep before making it to the end of your job description. You want them to read to the end, to feel excited and to want to work for you once they arrive at the end. I used to believe that a job description had to be short and to the point in order to get people to read it. One of the jobs posted by our parent company proved me wrong. (I will include a sample at the end of this article for you to review.) This job ad is over 1500 words and has multiple sections to read through and several sections of bullet points. At first glance it may appear as though it overwhelmed applicants but that wasn’t the case at all. We had more applicants for this position than any other position we had ever posted at our company! People responded very positively to the ad calling it “refreshing”, “human”, and “exactly what I am looking for”. People read it and many hundred applied.

The second thing you need to do before you sit down to write your job ad is to get a really good grasp on who you are trying to target with your job ad. This has several fancy names: persona and target audience to name a few. Don’t complicate it too much. What you really are trying to do is to think about who your ideal candidate is, get into their heads a little bit. What motivates them? What are their goals? What do they care about? The best way that I know of to do this is to look at your current employees, preferably your top performers.

Here are 10 questions you could ask top performers to understand them better:

  1. Why do they work? (breadwinner, part time job for school, second income, etc)
  2. What do they look for in a company to work for? (culture, benefits, size, industry, etc)
  3. Why do they do the job they are doing at your company? (love the job, means to an end, putting in their dues to move up, close to home)
  4. What are the most important factors to them when looking for a job? (pay, schedule, flexibility, close to home, advancement potential, how it looks on a resume, benefits, etc)
  5. What was their highest level of education when they started working for you in this job?
  6. How many years of relevant experience did they have when they started for you in this job?
  7. What job title(s) (and industry) did they have before this one that prepared them for this job?
  8. What skills did they have when they started for you in this job?
  9. What type of words do they search for when looking for a job online?
  10. What hiring source brought them to your company?

Once you have these questions answered by your top performers, it is time to start thinking about writing the job ad itself. In my next blog post, I will lay out a no fail formula on how to write an awesome and engaging job ad that will make people want to apply for your opening. In the mean time, here is an example of the job ad I mentioned above for your reading pleasure.



Director of Operations – Business Manager


Are you seeking a different type of experience? Not big corporate, not venture funded, not a flashy building at trendy Thanksgiving Point or billboards on I-15, not about who you know or where you went to school, just a place where you can put your head down and run a business based on driving real results? Are you looking for a place where you can work hard but aren’t asked to give up your work/life balance? Are you willing to work in Eagle Mountain, Utah (yeah that is a requirement)?

At your core, are you an underdog? Do you tend to swim against the current? Is Money Ball one of your favorite movies?

Are you a student of business concepts & theory, constantly seeking to learn something new and to use that knowledge in the laboratory that is a growing company? Do you love theories like lean, six sigma, constraints, abundance, and iterative problem solving, but understand that in their implementation you might have to deviate to find the right approach to the current situation? Do you love organizing chaos… but aren’t so detail oriented that it stops you from getting things done?

Do you instinctively and constantly ask “Why” to drill to the root issue of a problem and then find the “how might we…” solutions to test out? Are you able to look for the right solution to any problem without having your judgement clouded by the status quo or what all of the other competitors around you are doing? Do you look for solutions to business problems outside of your current industry, or even outside of the business world in psychology, nature, etc? Do you drive your significant other crazy by analyzing ineffective business processes everywhere you go from the DMV to a restaurant to your local grocery store?

Then this just might be the job for you…

Who is ApplicantPro:

Although we have web-based technology (and a team of programmers) at our core we are a sales and service organization. We sell hiring software and services to small and mid-sized companies specifically in industries with high turnover and workforces made up of entry to mid-level employees (think credit unions, restaurants, auto dealers, senior care, hotels, grocery, non-profits, recreation, manufacturing, etc). We provide a self-service platform mixed with best practices free consulting by our teams of hiring consultants. We currently service over 3600 of these companies and acquire an additional 60 to 80 of them every month. We are good at what we do, and our customers love us, boasting a 95% annual renewal rate.

We are a completely bootstrapped, profitable 10-year old company that has been growing at over 50% annually. With almost 10 million in annual revenue, we have been on the Inc 5000 list 3 years in a row (soon to be 4). We have a diverse employee base made up of over 50 people that you generally wouldn’t find at a high performing tech company. Our workforce (and management team) is over 70% female, with very few MBA’s or business degree holders. (No, being a female is not a requirement for this job, haha)

We are at a point in our business evolution/revolution where it is time for us to make some changes. Everything that brought us to where we are today may not take us to where we hope to go tomorrow. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take our chaotic fast growing company and evolve it into a streamlined and organized growth organization with repetitive and optimized processes and policies. Understand this won’t be easy, you will be an outsider leading a team of people who have years of history and experience together. Before you will be able to start executing changes to the organization, you will first need to dig in and become an expert on our domain and current processes, setup, and methodologies to build personal credibility with the team. (Seek first to understand, then to be understood)

What we are looking for:

We are looking for master business process improvement engineer to be the battlefield commander of our team of underdogs. Someone who is willing to roll up their sleeves and get in the trenches with the real people doing the real work of driving the company and help them find ways to do their jobs better, more efficiently, and to build systems and processes to ensure consistency, communication, and accountability among the various functional areas of the company.

This job is all about executing the vision of the company’s CEO. You will be tasked with driving each major area of the business, specifically marketing, sales, upgrades, support, and accounting to its ultimate potential. Your job will also include pulling the team together and leading them to reaching or exceeding their individual and overall growth, revenue, and profit goals while ensuring good communication among the team members so that they don’t kill each other along the way.

Your daily activities will include the following (along with anything else that is required to drive the company):

  • Driving, managing, moderating, and facilitating daily, weekly, and monthly meetings either at the team, management, or company level (yes meetings are necessary but should be short, specific, and action based)
  • Mentoring, training, and working with managers of the various teams to help them drive results from their teams to reach their individual and team goals.
  • Problem solving… lots and lots of problem solving. The goal here is to ensure that we don’t just fix the problem at hand but that we evolve our processes or implement new processes/policies so that we don’t continue to experience the same problems in the future.
  • Resolving disputes… yeah this is the real fun stuff. You will be moderating conflict and challenges that arise across teams as their individual work impacts other people in the company. The goal here once again will be to not just resolve the problem but to implement changes to policies and procedures to ensure that the conflict doesn’t happen again in the future.
  • Driving strategic initiatives that drive the growth & profitability of the company. This is the fun stuff of business; driving lead generation, client acquisition, up-sale revenue, and profitability through increased efficiency and capacity of our people and processes.
  • Digging in to look for solutions to the problems that we face. This will mean sitting down and going through the process yourself (answering phones, talking to clients, doing support, using our software, posting jobs, doing recruiting, etc) to get a personal feel for what is happening on the ground, and then going out and identifying potential solution that might fix the problem.
  • Identifying, creating, collecting, analyzing, and driving specific metrics that will show that we are making progress on our initiatives.

Behavioral characteristics required to do this job: (yeah, it isn’t just what you do but the way that you do it that makes people want to work with you)

  • Motivated & Passionate: You are self-driven and motivated to win and be the best at whatever you do, but you don’t need other people to lose in order for you to win. You take personal responsibility to manage yourself and your time wisely and don’t need someone telling you what is expected since each day you wake up and seek to make yourself better than the day before.
  • Service Minded: Your goal in life, and what you do, is to find ways to help people with the problems they are facing. This includes anything from helping an employee to do their job better, to helping a client with their disorganized and ineffective process, to even helping a party to the process who doesn’t pay you money to find an easier way to do what they want to do.
  • Curious Lifetime Learner: you are generally curious about the world around you and how “things” work. You like to disassemble a machine, a process, a game, or a person to find out what makes it tick so that you can better know how to make it work to its optimal potential.
  • Innovator & Strategic Problem Solver: You proactively look for ways to make things better, and look past the current battle to also foresee what it will take to win the long term war being fought.
  • Communicator, Mentor, & Motivator: You believe that the most important part of engaging with another human is to first listen and then talk. You are a natural communicator and can engage people both above and much below your own level of knowledge, experience, and success.
  • Fun to Work With: Beyond everything else, you aren’t boring. Even if your work is mundane, you can find a way to make things fun for you and those around you.

How to apply:

Please understand, this won’t be a short process. I am looking for the right person for this vital position at our company. I am dedicated to spend whatever time it takes to find, evaluate, and select a great fit for our company.

If you feel like you are a good fit for this job and would like to toss your hat in the ring, you can apply through the system in front of you. It’ll only take 5 minutes and simply asks for your resume (or paste a link to your LinkedIn profile in the text resume field) and to answer a handful of questions.

At your level, you might feel that you are above this process, but I’d respectfully disagree. #1 it really won’t take more than a few minutes of your time, and given that you have read this entire job ad, you are most likely intrigued by this opportunity. #2 you are applying to run a company that sells the very software that you will be using to apply with, so aren’t you the least bit curious to see how it works? If you really can’t bear to apply through this process, then you can reach out to me directly, just keep in mind the following. While I might applaud your directness in skipping the process I also might frown upon your arrogance in being un-willing to follow our simple process.

If you have any comments or questions about this job, and what we are looking for, feel free to reach out and ask.