Writing the Perfect Job Description,

published at 11:12pm on 12/15/11


My company is hiring, and though we’ve been through this process before, this time, I took a step back to look at the hiring landscape in NYC and to figure out how we were going to attract talent. See, Indaba Music has been around for over five years, having launched at the beginning of 2007, but unless you’re in the music industry, you’ve likely not heard of us. But if you’re a musician who has wanted to work with the music of Yo-Yo Ma, Linkin Park, Metric, T-Pain, Peter Gabriel and Snoop Dogg, among countless others, or if you’ve gotten your music licensed for Mercedes-Benz or Grooveshark radio, then you probably have.

So, how do you write a job listing for a company that is not primarily a consumer product with hockey stick growth, does not have the “ooh shiny” appeal of all of the upstart NYC startups, and does not have any of the big name venture capitalists behind it to, uh, do whatever VCs do for a company in that respect? That’s what I was tried to figure out when I sat down to write our most recent jobs page.

See, we had one around for a while, and you can find it in the Wayback Machine if you really want. Like all other startups in New York City, we are always looking for developers, and our last posting very clearly laid out exactly what we were looking for. If you read that job posting, you would know that we were looking for an engineer who “works with team to design user interface, system architecture and database structure” and that we only wanted people who had “3 years Web Development experience.” We had about 12 bullet points in total, and at the end of reading the job description, I’m pretty sure you’d know whether or not you had the skill set we were looking for, but I’m also fairly sure that you wouldn’t know why you’d want the job.


These days, it’s pretty easy to see whether or not someone has the technical chops necessary for a job. Before the interview, you can check out their github page, you can poke around the recesses of the web and dig up all sorts of dirt on your candidate. Or even worse, you can dig around the Internet and find nothing about your candidate, which is probably even worse. And when they set foot in your office, you can have a conversation with them to see whether they speak sufficiently enough nerd to play well with the other nerds in your nerdery.

And once we get people in the door at Indaba, we can sell the company. You can look around the office and see this team of people working hard to change the music industry, working hard to make lives better for musicians, working their butts off to make sure that musicians on the web thrive.

But we need to get them in the door.

And what I realized was that we needed a job description that spent much more time explaining who we are, as a team, and as a company, and by extension, the kind of person you should want to be if you want to join that team and work with us. I wanted to construct a posting that would attract the right kind of people and get them interested in us, that would sell our company as much as the candidates were selling themselves to us.


So this time around, instead of talking about years of ruby experience and a working knowledge of mongodb, we tell people that “Every member of our team is involved in the product development process. We challenge our developers, and we expect people to contribute at every step along the way” and we talk about how “We are a small team, and everyone is expected to exhibit a fair amount of autonomy.” And more than anything else, we lead with our core philosophy, which is that we believe that “the music industry is more alive than ever.” Forget all of those people who think that this industry is in the shitter – we’re just getting started.

In the end, I think that this approach has worked. I think that not only has this posting resonated with the people that we’d like to hire, but I know that it’s also helped our own team to figure out exactly who it is that we’re looking for. Who knows, maybe you know someone who wants to “help change the way that musicians make music in the world.”

Filed under: Technology

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