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Hire Your Dream Copywriter: The Application Process

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Hiring someone new is exciting! But what about writing the job posting? The reviewing of tens or hundreds of applications? Holding all of those initial screenings? Not so much.

As small business owners or hiring managers, we often want to push through the administrative portions of this process to just find people so we can get things moving forward. This is a mistake. It’s important to take care of every step of the hiring process to ensure you’re getting the best out of your candidates while making the most of your time.

I can’t say that I’ve perfected the application process, as I learn something new each go-round. I can tell you, however, that I’ve received positive feedback from the hiring managers and business owners with whom I’ve shared my process. I’ve also received great feedback from the applicants who have gone through the process.

I’d like to now share my process with you in the hopes that it offers some assistance to you as you seek to hire your dream copywriter.

The Job Posting: 4 Ways to Create a Posting That Stands Out

The job posting is often the first impression a candidate has of your company. Make that impression a good one—one that energizes the right candidates to apply immediately.

1. Write to Your Ideal Next Hire

As with any piece of marketing copy—which is what a job posting is—you want to write directly to your ideal audience. In this case, you’re writing to your ideal candidate.

Instead of writing a templated description with basic bullet points, write like you’re having a conversation with someone you think would be a great addition to your team.

  • Start out talking directly to your candidate, highlighting those features that immediately draw this person in.
  • Summarize what’s important about your company.
  • Describe what a typical “day in the life” would look like.
  • Identify the ideal traits of an effective team member.
  • Clarify a few traits that would help folks self-select out.
  • Provide details on compensation, benefits and other key details of the position.

2. Fill It With Personality

If you want a job description that stands out and captures more attention, then you need to breathe life into your description by filling it with personality. For instance, use your company’s brand style guide to help choose the right words, cadence and style to pull candidates in.

This doesn’t mean getting cutesy with your copy. You’ll get a lot of eye rolls and many “no, thank yous” if you try too hard to impress.

Just remember, your company is an extension of you. It has a personality. Use that to your advantage and show the potential writers looking at your job description that you understand the role good copy can play at all levels of your organization.

3. Avoid “Culture Fit” Statements

Be wary of using statements like “culture fit” in your description. Culture fit can mean just about anything. For instance, in the eyes of Black, Brown, Indigenous or other people of color, a company of all-white employees that touts “culture fit” is likely saying “looks like us.”

If you’ve previously used “culture fit” in your descriptions, take some time to consider what that actually means. For instance:

  • Are you looking for a certain set of attributes or personality types?
  • Does being a “culture fit” mean being aligned with a certain set of values?

Strip out “culture fit” statements in favor of more specific desires. Not only will this avoid the pitfalls of that generic approach, but it will also help your candidates better understand who and what you’re looking for in this next hire.

4. Include a Call to Action

As with any properly executed marketing piece, you’ll want a clear call to action at the end of your job description. Tell candidates exactly how to apply and by when to get those applications rolling in.

The 3-Part Application: More Information; Less Hassle

Speaking of how to apply, I’d like to introduce you to the three-part application I use here at Custom Content Solutions. What’s great about this is that no matter where you post your position, all applications come into one central location.

Part 1: The Questionnaire

Most job applications I see only request a resume and cover letter from applicants. I feel like this is a huge disservice to both applications and hiring companies. Neither of these items provides much, if any, insight into the applicant’s personality, values or soft skills.

In place of a cover letter, I have applicants fill out a pre-created questionnaire in Google Forms that covers a range of topics. This questionnaire:

  • Weeds out folks who aren’t seriously interested in the position.
  • Gives me insight into who the applicant is as a whole person and what they’d bring to my team.
  • Helps me narrow the field of candidates quicker and more thoroughly than phone screenings.

Here’s a sampling of the many questions I include in my questionnaire:

  • Tell me about a favorite project you’ve worked on. What made it your favorite and what role did you play?
  • How do you prioritize multiple projects to ensure quality output and timely delivery?
  • What is your Myers-Briggs personality type and/or top 5 StrengthsFinder themes?
  • What are your favorite ways to unwind? How do you feed your soul?

Parts 2 & 3: The Resume & Writing Sample

At the end of the questionnaire, I ask applicants to upload their resume and one or two writing samples that help me get an initial understanding of their experience and writing skillset. Once they attach those items, they’re able to hit “submit” on the questionnaire and it wings its way into my inbox.

The Initial Interview: It’s All About the Soft Skills

Once the initial candidates are cleared through the application process, we set up 1-hour interviews with each candidate. The goal of this interview is to evaluate the candidate on several levels, most of which focus on soft skills and personality. 

I’ve written in-depth about my interview process, including the questions I ask and what I’m looking for throughout. I encourage you to read it here.

The Writing “Test”: Two Tasks to Showcase Hard Skills

Candidates who have impressed me in their initial interview are then asked to complete a writing task and an editing task for my company. Even though this is part of our hiring process, I respect the time and effort these candidates put in. As such, we offer to pay a small freelancer fee for those candidates who choose to continue the process.

Each remaining candidate writes an original blog post on a topic that I assign. They also edit a different piece of content that I deliver to them. My team and I then evaluate all deliverables and determine which top candidates will move on to the final interview.

The Final Interview

This interview is reserved for the top two or three candidates and is solely a peer interview; I’m not included. My team members get to speak with each candidate, ask questions and answer any lingering questions candidates may have. These peer interviews often help bring out strengths and weaknesses that don’t necessarily come out when candidates are speaking to their potential new boss.

After the interview, my team and I meet to discuss the candidates and determine the next steps. If all goes well, you’ll have found a candidate who stands out from the rest and who will be a great addition to your team.

The Application & Interview Process Takes Time & Effort

Rushing through the application and interview process can cost you greatly, from financial losses to lost productivity. Avoid the risk of hiring the wrong person by dedicating the time and effort necessary upfront. Create a job description that stands out from all others and that grabs the attention of outstanding candidates.

I know this process works. In fact, the first time I followed it, I found two dream candidates who were amazing and who both eventually joined my team when the time was right. It is my wish for you that you get the same phenomenal results in your next search for your dream copywriter.

Need a Little Bit of Help or Encouragement?

Have questions about the dream writer application process? Want writing help until you secure your dream candidate?  Look no further. Reach out to the Word Nerds by sending us a message.

Cari O'Brien

Founder & Chief Word Nerd
Cari has been providing content marketing services to businesses for over 15 years. She writes and speaks frequently about brand messaging, SEO copywriting and audience-focused copy. She’s the creator of the Connection Copywriting Method and the online writing course, Write that Site®.

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