Episode 405: Writing Honest Job Postings to Attract the Right People With Katrina Kibben

Summary:Workology Podcast interview with Katrina Kibben on how to write job postings the right way to attract the ideal candidates.

Episode 405: Writing Honest Job Postings to Attract the Right People With Katrina Kibben

Summary:Workology Podcast interview with Katrina Kibben on how to write job postings the right way to attract the ideal candidates.

Table of Contents


So we did analysis on 100 years of job postings and they haven’t changed. The only difference, they sound exactly the same, the only difference is that the biases were more explicit in the 1920s than they are now. So in the 1920s, they would explicitly say white men of 20 years can apply here. If the rest of the sentence is still the same, you just didn’t say the white man part, it’s still biased. It’s still going to produce the wrong results and it’s not going to open up that role for the right people.

Episode 405: Writing Honest Job Postings to Attract the Right People With Katrina Kibben

Welcome to the Workology Podcast, a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader. Join host Jessica Miller-Merrill, founder of Workology.com as she sits down and gets to the bottom of trends, tools, and case studies for the business leader, HR, and recruiting professional who is tired of the status quo. Now here’s Jessica with this episode of Workology.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:00:58.46] Welcome to the Workology Podcast sponsored by Ace The HR Exam and Upskill HR. These are two of the courses that we offer at Workology for HR certification prep and re-certification, all for HR leaders. Before I introduce today’s guest, I do want to hear from you. Text the word “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005 to ask me questions, leave comments, and make suggestions for future guests. This is my community text number and I want to hear from you. So today on the podcast I am so pleased to have Katrina Kibben here. Katrina Kibben is an award winning writer and keynote speaker known for helping hiring teams write inclusive and unbiased job postings that help companies hire the right person faster. Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster.com, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. Katrina, welcome to the Workology Podcast.

Katrina Kibben: [00:02:12.30] Thank you for having me.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:02:13.92] I’m so excited to, to have you here. And we have known each other for a really long time. So let’s get to the topic at hand that I feel like is the one thing that we all need some help with and that is inclusive job postings. I think they’re so important and to get people started. Can you share maybe some best advice? Sounds like I’m really putting you like right away. We’re getting down to all the things. But some advice maybe for recruiters and HR leaders who are wanting to ensure that their job posting attracts a more diverse candidate a.udience What should they be doing or not doing?

Katrina Kibben: [00:02:54.63] Yeah, you know, I think a lot of people right now have the time to do some administrative and operational work, and so they’re looking at their systems and often that means looking at their job postings and they come to me next and go, it’s a mess but I don’t quite know what’s wrong. And I think the thing that they’re feeling often they lean into tone or let’s make it sound better. But the thing that we actually need to revise, analyze, and apply in order to get more diverse candidates into our pool is to actually have people tell the truth, to make sure that your postings accurately capture the work and success of that person so that you’re looking for the right thing in the first place. I think we forget that like really fundamental step as far as making progress when it comes to postings.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:03:46.93] So they have to be honest. And I think that’s a great strategy, actually. And if people don’t apply, that’s a good thing. You want them to say, hey, this sounds like it might not be the job for me because the people that it does sound attractive to, they’ll say, hey, this, this is the job that I want and then hopefully you’ll have a higher quality candidate and maybe less candidates that you have to search from.

Katrina Kibben: [00:04:11.77] Exactly. I tell people all the time, I know if someone actually knows recruiting or if they’re just a marketer based on if they say you want more candidates, because most of us, unless you’re filling high volume, low retention jobs where you’re constantly filling roles, think Amazon Warehouse, right? Unless you’re doing that kind of role, you do not want more. More is not more, right? Marketers are great if they go out into the world and 1% of the world responds to their message. You’re a Coca-cola if 1% of the world responds, we have a harder marketing job. If you’re going to call it marketing at all, right? We take the whole world and boil it down to one. That’s a different equation and it requires different work and different copywriting, which is where that job posting comes in.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:04:58.60] And feel like not all marketers can be job posting writers or recruiters in, in this case, even though I mean, maybe they don’t want to be, but it does take a certain understanding of the position and the organization and making sure that you’re attracting a diverse group of people because you don’t want the same type of people in your organization. Otherwise it gets stagnant and stale and it just is, doesn’t perform, it’s not represented well for the rest of the world.

Katrina Kibben: [00:05:32.53] Exactly. That’s my issue with so much of the technology around job postings right now. Is that they change words that change meaning. That’s what marketers do, right? They make it sound good. But job postings weren’t bad because they sounded bad, right? I mean, yeah, no, they’re not the most fun thing to read. But sounding bad wasn’t the problem. The truth was the problem. Looking for the wrong thing? Advertising role incorrectly. That was the problem. And that’s why they weren’t getting results. It’s not because it didn’t sound good.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:05:32.53] It’s like the age-old problem in, in recruiting. This hasn’t changed in the 20 years that I’ve been in this space. We’re still talking about quality candidates and an effective job posting or a job ad or whatever to attract the right people. It’s still, it’s still something that we’re struggling with even now, even today, with all this amazing tech that’s supposed to change our lives and make it so much easier.

Katrina Kibben: [00:06:27.47] Well, I can make that worse, right? Katrina Kibben: So we did analysis on 100 years of job postings and they haven’t changed. The only difference, they sound exactly the same, the only difference is that the biases were more explicit in the 1920s than they are now. So in the 1920s, they would explicitly say white men of 20 years can apply here. If the rest of the sentence is still the same, you just didn’t say the white man part, it’s still biased. It’s still going to produce the wrong results and it’s not going to open up that role for the right people.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:07:02.45] I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about the EEOC, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. So do we or why do we need an EEOC statement in our job postings? It sometimes it seems like it’s just extra words that don’t really do anything.

Katrina Kibben: [00:07:20.81] Yeah, you know, if you need to check that box because you work for a government contractor, because whomever says you should, I always tell people, don’t argue with your lawyers. If the lawyers say you should add something to the bottom of your posting, you go for it. But I have to tell you, it’s not enough, right? If the goal is a pipeline of candidates from diverse backgrounds, if your goal is a pipeline of people that don’t look exactly like the people sitting in that role right now, you can’t just, you know, copy and paste your EEOC statement from some government website and cross your fingers. That’s not how it works.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:07:58.24] It’s no longer enough just to put the EEOC language in your job posting, just like it’s no longer enough to fax your job listing to the AARP and whoever else I used to back in the day and say, Oh, I have met all the requirements for my affirmative action plan for the year. So I, good advice. And those of you that do know what a fax machine is, God bless you. So God bless you.

Katrina Kibben: [00:08:27.40] You know, it’s show instead of tell. I do have a background as a marketer, and it’s probably why I’m more critical of marketers because I know what I did right. Like I came into this with very little recruiting experience and pretended like it was a marketing problem, but it’s not. And the EEOC, we think that that’s a marketing solution to a problem that’s so much bigger. It’s about the requirements. That’s when you peel apart all the layers. If you don’t change the requirements, you don’t change results.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:08:55.97] That is so true. And I feel like the government is behind in their updates and changes and suggestions to technology diversity. All things work really.

Katrina Kibben: [00:09:09.41] They are light years behind. It is obnoxious to me. How many of the things that my research has shown contribute to bias and contribute to having a less diverse pipeline of candidates that the government actually requires of the people who post jobs on their behalf.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:09:26.24] Interesting. Well, it kind of reminds me of the EEOC just came out with some guidance on artificial intelligence, right? Which I’m happy that it’s out there, but it’s not enough information. And things are changing so quickly with the European Union leading the way for a lot of these different changes that they’re going to have to have an announcement every week for us really to be able to, to keep up, so.

Katrina Kibben: [00:09:51.58] You know, that’s why I laugh so hard when I see people writing the all inclusive recruitment guide to AI. And I’m like, how long is that shelf life two, two hours? Five?

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:10:03.12] Honestly? So I have a book out, right? And I do talk about artificial intelligence and, and recruiting. And we, we cover a lot of topics. But even before it came out, it was already out of date. So that’s just the name of the game when it, like whenever this podcast comes out, something will be different now than, than it was in this very second. Let’s talk about your process and how you test job postings, because you’ve been talking all about this data and this research that you’re doing. Walk us through how you know what you know and what you’re, some insights into your process.

Katrina Kibben: [00:10:38.67] Yeah, So my process was built by doing this a lot, and I think that’s pretty rare in our business of people who have literally done thousands of samples. But that’s literally how I became a job post writing expert. I was on an event where I was talking about job postings and I fell in love with the problem. And so at the very end, I offered to write job postings for free, and over a thousand people contacted me. And that, that was, you know, many moons ago, right about four years ago now. And from that, that’s where our process was built. And we learned how to do hiring manager intake really well. And that was, be the thing that I hope listeners are getting from this is that if you don’t have the right input, you’ll never have the right output. And we mastered that intake first. So we do the intake, we use quotes from the manager, we get the real verbal, right, how they actually talk about the work into these job postings. And we use that as the content because when people can understand, they can understand if they’re qualified and actually say yes or no, I want to do this, yes or no, I don’t. And from there we’re doing job title analysis, building out that content, and then really looking at quality and building our metrics based off of the goals of that client, not necessarily the all inclusive, because like I mentioned earlier, high volume, low retention jobs, and really specific niche roles, you’re going to have different metrics as far as success.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:12:09.30] Think you are the Malcolm Gladwell of job postings.

Katrina Kibben: [00:12:12.27] No one has written as many job postings.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:12:14.35] No.

Katrina Kibben: [00:12:14.40] You can almost guarantee.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:12:16.05] I had somebody ask me recently like how I could be an expert in HR marketing, and I was like, come on, there’s no one else that does the things that I do and has been doing them at ad nauseam or like on repeat. And if you do things enough times, that’s how you learn how to do things. I wish I would have said to her, like, How did you become the CEO? You’re an HR person. Like, how does that happen? It’s the same thing. If you research and understand and dedicate your life, which you, the last four years of your life have been focused on job postings, you become an expert in that area. And then you’re able to measure the impact that you’re having in filling roles or bringing in more qualified, diverse candidates into those positions.

Katrina Kibben: [00:13:05.43] Yeah, I’ll never forget the first time a recruiter actually recorded the conversation of a candidate after they read our job posting. And it was for a insurance phone, like a call center role. Okay. So for me, that’s how. I actually worked in a call center. Once I lasted about a day and a half before I walked out on my lunch break. True story. And during the conversation you can hear the person on the other side say, I was really interested in this role because I read your job posting and it just made sense to me. And it was the first time that anyone ever talked about work in a way that made me feel like a human. And to me, that is so worth those four years of my life, because I realized that as much as I impact recruiters and they get to take this knowledge and be good to a lot of people, we actually have impact. And in the same way that your HR marketing does, we have impact on people we’ll never meet. People who wanted something better for their life, decided to open up the Internet one day and typed in a job title and they put it all on the line because it’s a confession moment. When you look for a job, you are confessing that you’re willing to change everything to change your job. Because when you change your job, everything changes. It could be your doctor, it could be your investment in your future. It could be where you live, where your kids go to school. I can list things all day and we don’t give those people enough credit. They’ve taken this big risk. How dare we show up with some copy-and-paste job postings or some shitty marketing that we stole from our competitors? It’s not right. It’s not right to meet someone in a moment of confession with something so simple.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:14:43.40] I love your passion. It’s just, it just gives me, gives me chills. And I think I know the answer to this, but I’m going to ask it anyway because I feel like we need to ask this question because again, in two years people will still be talking about salary. Why is it so important to talk about salary and include it in job postings? I mean, I feel like you’ve already answered the question, but tell us again.

Katrina Kibben: [00:15:07.46] You can’t talk about impact on people without talking about money. Like no one takes a job without knowing how much money they’re going to make, period. How can you post a job posting and assume you’re going to be successful without giving people deal-breaker information? That’s just silly to me.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:15:24.02] Honestly, I, I agree with you. I, I actually so from time to time I will look at job postings. And in preparation for our interview, I was like, oh, I’m going to go scroll on LinkedIn, see what kind of things LinkedIn thinks I might be qualified for. And there was a Chief People Officer and a culture champion job, some job here in Austin, Texas. They said I was qualified for an 889 people, according to LinkedIn, through their easy apply and nine hours had already applied. It did not have the salary information anywhere.

Katrina Kibben: [00:15:58.65] That’s insane.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:15:59.58] So why would we do that to ourselves as recruiters or hiring managers?

Katrina Kibben: [00:16:04.26] To me, that is as pointless as getting more applicants and just wanting more, right? Because at this point, let’s say 889 people have applied, what percentage of those people will say no because you don’t meet their salary requirements? Right?

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:16:22.13] Or what people are you missing out on because you don’t include the salary requirements. Now, let’s just assume that I was interested in applying for this job. I didn’t apply because I was like, where the F is the salary information here? I am an experienced HR person. I have been around and I know like I don’t want to waste my time on two interviews and maybe in person before I even get a range. It’s a waste of everybody’s time.

Katrina Kibben: [00:16:48.20] Well, that’s what we saw with a nurse job posting test that we did recently. We put out two postings side by side for nursing, which is a very in-demand field, put one with salary and one without the stats over the last 90 days have been insane. So we’re talking about like 75% more qualified applicants. We’re talking about full open rates, people completing applications, all of the places where this business was seeing a lot of breakdown in the process were solved simply by putting the money up front.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:17:22.98] So being transparent, telling what you do in the job, and encouraging diversity and inclusive language, these are all things that can help increase your candidate quality and hopefully you don’t have people backing out of roles after they’ve accepted the offer. Like less percentage of, of those just through more specific and refined and customized job postings.

Katrina Kibben: [00:17:50.79] I mean, the data I saw most recently was that 26% of people quit in the first 60 days because they believed that the job posting sold them a job that was not accurate to the role that they do every day. And then you multiply out the numbers about what percent of their salary you have just lost because you’ve spent all the time training someone, getting them on board to only have them quit. It’s about 30% of that person’s salary in the first place. So we’re looking at about 20 grand on someone who’s making the median salary in the US, which is 60, right? 20 grand every single time because you didn’t write a decent job posting in the first place.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:18:30.09] And I feel like the younger generation, they have a lot more willingness just to walk away from something that’s not working than maybe other more senior experienced professionals would in and how they’ve been taught or just kind of generationally like they might like. You know, me, I might be like, okay, I need to stick this out for six months or 12 months just so it looks good on my resume. And there’s probably a lot of people who are listening to this right now going, yes, that’s me. But here’s the thing. The young, younger professionals, I watched them all on TikTok and do their things. They’re walking off the job in two weeks and they don’t care. In fact, they’re not even giving any notice because they have been lied to or misled from the very beginning.

Katrina Kibben: [00:19:17.73] Exactly right. I have these really big companies coming to me concerned about Gen Z, and they’re concerned because Gen Z hasn’t bought in to all the rules that the rest of us bought into, right? We were told that we couldn’t leave a job unless we stayed for one year. We couldn’t fill in the blank. There are a million myths, but Gen Z is on TikTok dispelling these myths one by one and calling bullshit on all of the things that keep us in places that don’t make us happy. Money, time and impressions, right? And so now we have this next generation coming in and it’s starting to scare the big guys who are already struggling. It’s starting to scare the people who are desperate for junior talent to build their organization because that’s the only way that they’ve ever grown, because people aren’t staying for 20 years anymore. In the last three years, tenure has gone down by over 50%. That if you’re not worried about that, you should be. And it starts with how we ask. It starts with how you describe the work.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:20:22.85] If you want to look into it, I would just encourage, I’m saying this to those that are listening, I quit my job today on TikTok. I’ll try to include a list in the transcript, but just get on TikTok and just watch some of these videos. And I’m not doing, I don’t want us to get our feelings hurt. I want you to look at this as market research, because these are the people that are willing to put their professional and personal lives on the Internet. So not everybody. It’s not for everybody, but it is if you see in the comment section, a lot of anonymous comments, people who don’t have a face or just a logo or whatever, they are in agreement. So we are going to have to, as hiring managers and decision-makers in organizations, we’re going to have to modify maybe our behaviors or things that we have always done because it worked for us in the past, because it’s not going to work, it’s not working now. And we have ourselves to blame because we raised these kids.

Katrina Kibben: [00:21:20.16] Right? I used to think that there weren’t enormous discrepancies between generations, and really there haven’t been for millennials and, right? But when Gen Z entered this market, there is a sharp discrepancy between how they approach work and how every other generation ever has because it’s called the Internet. They grew up on the Internet. They started with the Internet. They were holding iPads at the table when they were three, right? They’re going to change everything. What? I don’t know yet, but I think this technology and some of the moves you’ve seen as far as transitions are just the beginning.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:21:57.75] I think so, too. And once the market changes again and they’re in demand, so to speak, it’ll go back to all the, a number of folks that are like living off their crypto and being entrepreneurs. Like there’ll be so much more of that because they’ve seen their parents, their friends, their parents’ friends struggle and be unhappy and they don’t want those things for themselves.

Katrina Kibben: [00:22:22.14] Yeah, I think you just hit on something really interesting is the idea that they are willing to sacrifice for happiness in all the ways that we weren’t because we grew up, I grew up, I’ll speak for myself. I grew up in a generation where, single parent, military family, and my mom chose the military because it was the only sure thing. It was the 80s, right? There weren’t a lot of jobs. She was an accountant, accounting major, so she went with the military because it was a sure thing. A lot of our parents stayed in their jobs for ten, 20, 30+ years. We’re going to all their retirement parties now because they wanted a sure thing. And we are willing to take a lot more risk because we’ve seen so much opportunity. Enter Internet, Instagram, TikTok and all of those other places where we get to experience other people’s way of life.

Break: [00:23:09.57] Let’s take a reset here. My name is Jessica Miller-Merrell and you are listening to the Workology Podcast powered by Ace The HR Exam and Upskill HR. We are talking today about inclusive job postings with Katrina Kibben, founder and CEO of Three Ears Media. Before we get back to the podcast, please give me your feedback. Text “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005. Ask me questions, leave comments, and make suggestions for future guests. This is my community text number and I want to hear from you.

Break: [00:23:41.67] Personal and professional development is essential for successful HR leaders. Join Upskill HR to access live training community and over 100 on-demand courses for the dynamic leader. HR recert credits available. Visit UpskillHR.com for more.

Skill-Based Hiring vs Experience-Based Hiring

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:23:41.67] I want to switch gears a little bit and let’s talk about skill-based hiring versus experience-based hiring. I just saw like a Simon Sinek quote that was on my LinkedIn. You know, that’s kind of his shtick. But you’re in the trenches writing these postings, doing the research, which I appreciate a lot more than an academic. Nothing against academia, but you’re in doing the work, getting your hands dirty. So what are you seeing in terms of hiring that’s working? Is it skill based? Is it experience-based?

Katrina Kibben: [00:24:30.02] It’s experienced-based because experience is universal, skills are not. So what I mean by that is if I said you and I went to the store, you and I know what that means. The experience of that is universal. I don’t have to do a ton of explaining for you to understand my definition. If I say collaborative and I went around a room of 30 HR professionals and I ask each one to give me a definition of collaborative, they would say something different, right? And that’s the problem. We have companies using skills databases that were written by people like me. Genuinely, people have tried to hire me to do this work, and I’ve said no. Because I don’t believe that hiring should be based off of my bias either. I think skills have to be mutually defined by a large variety of people, and that’s not what’s happening right now. They’re having one source of truth write up a definition and a dictionary because they need that to make their technology work. It has to be this little matching philosophy. So skills-based hiring is basically one person’s bias multiplied times a million. And that’s why I can’t subscribe to skills-based hiring.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:25:37.10] Interesting because I feel like that’s all that’s in the HR, like, not all that’s in the HR tech space, but the skills piece is really going crazy. I just know personally that if you look at my skills and predicted where I would be from when I first started in my career to today, there is no freaking way you would have ever predicted that I would start an Internet HR training company and be doing this work. I didn’t even want to be in HR. Somebody moved me into that role because I was relocatable. That’s the reason I became an HR manager at a retail store.

Katrina Kibben: [00:26:11.06] Yeah, I worked at a Kaplan tutoring center teaching kids how to read, right? Like, there’s no way you would have been like. And someday you’ll be a job post writer, right? It’s, it’s fascinating, these paths. And we are doing ourselves a disservice by leaning too far into skills-based hiring because it is matching methodology that does not work for successful outputs. Maybe at a super junior level where you can connect some dots and, you know, answer some personality tests. But I’ll be interested to see how the data rolls out.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:26:46.65] I feel like tarot readers and psychics are maybe more reliable than skills-based hiring. Yeah. No. And you know, I’m all down for, like, an angel card, so I’m going to think about that the next time I pull, I pull cards. But I just think it’s fascinating. And I also think that when a machine or an algorithm tells us what we should do, it sort of ruins with the experience to try something out for yourself. And, you know, that’s why I started a blog. Because I was looking for a way to differentiate myself and recruit inside and outside salespeople. And I thought, oh, this might be the thing. If I would have went with maybe what an algorithm said, I would have just got my certification or attended some training that some lawyers put together, and I probably would have done great, but I definitely wouldn’t have been down the path that I am now.

Katrina Kibben: [00:27:47.29] Right. And I think it also multiplies systemic bias because again, we have to go back to the data set. And skills-based hiring means even if you base it off of your most successful employees, what we often see in Amazon was the first example of this is that when you try to accelerate based on your current data set, we just see bias magnified, right? We see that we start to remove people from different backgrounds who can do the job versus with experience-based hiring, we’re saying, have you done this before? Do you want to do more of that? Great. And that’s the kind of conversations we’re supposed to have worked. This is a conversation between two humans. As much as we want to think that the AI is going to take people’s jobs, when we pull back all the layers, it is two people deciding to work together.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:28:35.65] The AI can write my emails and give me some general information about like what recipes to use and stuff, but that’s mostly where I am with it now. I want to dive more into the research piece because I think and I told you this when we had our prep call, you need to be shouting all this from the rooftops. Like all the work that you’re doing and all the research is unreal. So give us an example of some things in a job posting that we might not immediately think could maybe exclude certain candidate audiences and for example, years of experience. But you tell me what your research has shown.

Katrina Kibben: [00:29:12.88] Yeah, you know, you inspired me and we are working on that research now to produce some white papers about inclusive hiring. And I even came back on Juneteenth, right? My team, we all stepped away because we were I was given I gave them this prompt on June 19th, emancipated slaves walked out of their workplace. What happened next and what happens next is that work became even more biased because there were employers around this entire country who decided that all of these people were not welcome and a series of biases started to sneak their way into job postings and everything else. And the research is mortifying. It’s scary, but it’s even worse when we realize that job postings haven’t really changed since that time. And when sentiment doesn’t change, outcomes don’t change. So you mentioned years of experience. That’s the perfect one, right? We started to see increases. Oh, you need 12 years of experience because it created a barrier between people and work. We knew you didn’t have 12 years of experience. We knew only this kind of person could have that much experience.

Katrina Kibben: [00:30:26.23] And that’s the outcome. And specifically where you see that rise of years of experience is when technology became a big thing, which now we’re looping back and Gen Z is going to year, years of experience all of the older people out of work. No, watch, watch it all happen. But what’s, what was happening is that computers were becoming very popular. And so these senior executives started to double the years of experience numbers. And this is my hypothesis, but I have enough samples to, to show a trend. And it would keep these younger technologists out of work because they wanted computers kept out of work. Fast forward, we lower the years of experience when we want a younger candidate. And when you say 15 years, all you’re saying is 15 years older because two HR executives sitting side by side, if I ask them, What did you do every day, we would not expect that they’d do the exact same thing every single day. Years of experience quantifies time. I’ll tell you how long you did something, but it does not qualify people.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:31:25.30] Yeah, it doesn’t tell you actually how good you were or your performance. Like you could be crappy and have 20 years of experience, but I would rather have someone who has been great, stellar, outstanding, exceeds expectations for three years maybe versus 20 especially, well, depending on. Upon the industry and how fast it is moving, right? If you’re in insurance. No, no shade on insurance, but or finance, they don’t normally change very quickly. But if you’re in tech or crypto or artificial intelligence, one of these other spaces, health care, I think is an area that is moving very quickly as well right now, they’re in demand logistics. Like they’ll forego experience because they want a high performer who, who has done the work. It doesn’t need to be 20 years or five years.

Katrina Kibben: [00:32:18.67] You just made another case for why skills-based hiring doesn’t work, right? Because if it’s not in the correct industry and if it’s not at the same scale, it’s not the same skill, right? So if I worked in HR and then I went over to a remote managed services company, true story. Not having that industry experience and not having the experience that a company of that scale, meaning a company with thousands of employees versus a 50-person company, it’s two completely different types of skill, right? You know how to do different things based on those experiences, and that’s often missing. And it’s another layer of bias that we’re just not talking about.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:33:05.29] All this is fascinating. I feel like we, we cannot have a conversation about bias and technology without talking about generative AI like ChatGPT, which I know that you’re seeing all the webinars books are now out how to write job postings, how to write policies with ChatGPT. Let me just say that this is, this is kind of something funny that I just had happen. So somebody in a group that I am involved in said, Hey, I need to write a policy against ChatGPT and AI. What should I look for? So being kind of an asshole and sarcastic that I am, I’m like, Oh, I will do that for you. So I asked ChatGPT. And they gave me seven different ones. And then I asked it to write policies for each of them, and then I presented them to her. And said, Here you go. I asked you to put this together. However, there’s a whole laundry list of problems and potential pitfalls with this, but I wanted to ask for your opinion. How should we be using generative AI tools like ChatGPT to write job postings? Is it a good idea?

Katrina Kibben: [00:34:18.04] No, is the short answer because of where we started this conversation. So telling the truth is the number one way to make a good job posting to attract a pipeline of candidates from diverse backgrounds and ChatGPT can’t tell the truth. It doesn’t know the truth because it’s dataset is everything that’s already on the internet. If you just wanted to copy and paste a bunch of job postings to write your own, you could have done that for the last 30 years, right? Like, you could have opened up the newspaper back when, you could have copied and pasted off of Indeed, whatever you wanted to do to not tell the truth. That’s the problem. We talk too much about going faster and not about results. And ChatGPT is the perfect example. We have a lot of people who just want to go faster but are not concerned about where we end up. If you want results, it’s a lot easier to have a conversation with a hiring manager, align on the outcome you want, and to tell people what that outcome is versus to ask ChatGPT and then try to erase the bullshit.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:35:23.06] But it’s not as cool and you don’t get as many registrants on your webinar so that you can sell your HR technology software to. I mean, anyway. Um.

Katrina Kibben: [00:35:34.04] I think it could be used to applications where it could be used, right? If you’re doing some quick salary research and you want to understand what the market looks like, that’s a really good thing for ChatGPT because it has access to many different data sources. It’s pulling from a lot of different places and it can give you baselines. You want alternative job titles so that you can actually have your job posting be found. Let’s say you have a really specific internal job title that’s like software engineer for versus that’s probably not the best example, but like a marketing manager or whatever, you’re not getting applicants because it’s not getting found. Go ask ChatGPT to give you a list of 15 alternative job titles and then do some analysis. It’s good for the list building, but it’s not good for final output.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:36:20.63] I’ll be interested to see the research that comes out of ChatGPT and the biases that exist within it. I will include a link in the show notes of an example of a law firm that used ChatGPT to research and present an argument in a case and that the other opposing law firm was like, What the H is this? I’ve never seen these three court cases anywhere. Well, ChatGPT says that they’re real court cases. They’re not real court cases. So it’s not perfect, is what I’m saying. It’s still new and it’s not the answer to everything. Which is why I don’t think that our, that 50% of recruiters are going to be going away anytime soon. I saw some stat in one of the Facebook groups that I’m in that they were like making this prediction. I’m like, that’s crap. Like, you’re still going to need recruiters right now. More people are applying for jobs, which we need really more recruiters to sort through all the noise that’s in there. And like you said, if we’re going to move towards this experience-based hiring versus skill-based hiring, we need recruiters to decipher those things more than ever between the hiring manager, the candidate, and the culture of the organization.

Katrina Kibben: [00:37:36.80] Exactly, right. You have to look at the data set. You can replace the word ChatGPT with any AI technology. If you don’t have a good data set, you don’t get a good output, right? Job postings are the perfect bad data set. They’re the perfect example of crap data and there’s not a lot of consistency, which also makes it really hard for generative AI to come out with the right answer because, for example, a marketing manager at your company, a marketing manager at Apple and a marketing manager at Nike have three completely different jobs. So when you go to ChatGPT and say, Write me a marketing manager job posting, which one are you going to get?

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:38:14.77] You know, once everyone is on the Internet with the most information that they scraped, probably, right?

Katrina Kibben: [00:38:19.94] Exactly. It’ll all be trash. Yeah.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:38:23.44] Well, I want to end the conversation with something that you recently talked about in a presentation about how to turn a wish list into a job posting and talk about maybe why wish lists are problematic.

Katrina Kibben: [00:38:38.35] Yeah. You know, when we’re trying to hire the right person, it has to be a series of you did this so it means you can do that here. That is the most effective version of hiring. And when we’re operating off of wish lists, recruiters put at risk something we cannot buy and generative AI can’t make happen for you. It’s called respect, right? When managers come to you with a wish list and you bring back nine out of the ten items, they’re going to think you’re the problem, not the candidate, not the process, not the input, which is actually the problem. Meaning if they don’t tell you the truth in the first place, you can’t go find it. And recruiters for years and you and you and I have known each other for a long time and this has been the conversation forever. Is that recruiter hiring manager war, right? There is no need for a war. None. Because recruiters are supposed to be facilitators, not order takers. And when you’re taking wish lists, you will always be seen as the order taker and people will get mad at you, just like they get mad at the person who does their Instacart and forgets the eggs.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:39:45.26] And I do get mad at the Instacart person or when I ask for five bananas and they give me five bunches of bananas.

Katrina Kibben: [00:39:51.92] And you just made another case for the value of the human in the process, someone could have texted.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:39:57.11] I think it all comes down to the conversation. A call comes down to the relationship and understanding what the hiring manager needs. And then you as the recruiter writing a job posting that is inclusive of all those things and is designed to track the correct candidates qualified candidate s through being transparent about what you’re, who you’re hiring, and what you’re who you’re wanting to come and work at your company.

Katrina Kibben: [00:40:24.83] Yes. And for anyone who’s listening and is thinking who should own the job posting, this is your moment to realize that you are supposed to own the posting. Okay, let’s put this in another scenario and separate our emotions here, right? If my accountant told me to run my taxes before I came, I would not have an accountant. If a recruiter tells a hiring manager to write a job posting without ever talking to the recruiter, they shouldn’t need the recruiter because they know what they’re looking for. You must be a job post writing expert to facilitate that relationship and build trust. If you want to be the consultant, if you want to be seen as the trusted expert, that now is the time to do that at the very beginning when you’re writing the order, so to speak.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:41:05.64] Agreed. Well, thank you, Katrina. I have a whole host of resources on the show notes, including your Get Your Free Job Post workbook and with them on LinkedIn, Three Ears, Media, all the things will have all the links for you. Any parting words that you want to leave us with?

Katrina Kibben: [00:41:25.29] No, this was really fun. I feel excited about going to do my research now, so thank you so much. Absolutely.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:41:30.87] Well, when the research is ready, send me a link because we’ll shout that out the rooftops, too. We need more information on effective job post writing. Because you’re right, it hasn’t changed. It’s the same conversation. It makes me scared that from the 1920s it’s the same conversation. But I feel like from when I entered the, the professional workforce, it’s the same conversation. Let’s work to change that and make it better so that we can bring qualified, excited candidates to our job listings and really help make the workplace a better place, which is, I feel like that’s our job as as recruiters.

Katrina Kibben: [00:42:09.00] Totally agree. Thank you so much.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:42:10.86] Thank you. I’m so excited. I can’t wait to for everyone to listen to this.

Closing : [00:42:15.30] It is so important for HR leaders and recruiting leaders to understand how job postings impact the range of talent that we attract. I think that Katrina pretty much summed it up, and I hope that their resources and information and most importantly, research is going to arm you with information to help improve your job postings. We want to make them more diverse and more inclusive within our organizations. It needs to be this way. It is time. I’m tired of waiting 20 years. It’s been over 20 years. This conversation continues on. It is time to change how we write job descriptions and job postings. We must be intentional about this in order to attract a more diverse candidate audience. I so appreciate Katrina and her knowledge and expertise. So wonderful for them to share that with us on the podcast today. Thank you, Katrina. Text the word “PODCAST” because I want to hear from you, too. Text the word “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005. Ask questions, leave comments, and make suggestions for future guests. This is my community text number and I want to hear from you. Most importantly, thank you for joining the Workology Podcast, which is sponsored by Upskill HR and Ace The HR Exam. This podcast that you’re listening to is for the disruptive workplace leader who’s tired of the status quo. Let’s change the workplace landscape together. My name is Jessica Miller-Merrell and until next time, visit Workology.com to listen to all our previous podcast episodes of the Workology Podcast.

Connect with Katrina Kibben.


– Katrina Kibben on LinkedIn

– KatrinaKibben.com

– Three Ears Media

 – Get Your Free Job Post Workbook

– Lawyers Getting Tripped Up By Generative AI Such As ChatGPT (Forbes)

– Episode 383: Finding the Hidden Gems Within the Organization With Dr. Edie Goldberg, Founder of E. L. Goldberg & Associates

– Episode 399: AI and the Future of HR With Kara Kelley, CEO Founder and CEO of Clinical HR

– Episode 400: Manager Training With Cornelia Gamlem And Barbara Mitchell, Authors Of The Big Book Of HR

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