Pretend you are searching for a new job for a moment. Go to your favorite job board (say, Hacker News Jobs) and browse through the list of available jobs. Notice anything? Look at this page of job listings, for instance:
Practically every post looks exactly the same! "$COMPANY is hiring $POSITION." Man, how exciting does that sound? I can't decide which job post to look at first, because they all sound exactly the same. Not exactly inspiring stuff. All jobs feeling equal, if I'm searching for a job, I don't really care which one I apply to.
Purpose Makes You Stand Out
However, there are a few stand-out examples in that list of jobs. "Change tech education." "Help us empower teachers." Now those sound exciting! I'm interested, I want to hear more. I want to understand how I can be a part of something so important.
Now, spend a few minutes looking into the companies behind the more generic-sounding job ads. you'll find many of them also have a significant purpose behind their work. Gemnote makes it easy for busy professionals to be more thoughtful (by sending nice gifts to employees and clients on your behalf). Remix builds more livable cities (by automating transit route planning). Fond helps you motivate and engage employees to build a better workplace (through their employee engagement suite). All of these places sound incredible! They each have immense purpose! But they're not selling it in their job post title lines.
Going back to the purposeful stand-outs in the jobs list, it's easy to imagine Freckle Education's job post attracting more applicants who are passionate about the company mission than, say, Gemnote's job posting. A purposeful job post sends positive signals to the people you want. Your purpose describes not what future employees will do, but why they will do it. Understanding your mission and striving toward a higher purpose increases employees' satisfaction, quality of work, and commitment to day-to-day work.
A Higher Purpose Brings Out Greatness in People
If you heard about a work emergency during lunch, wouldn't you be more likely to drop your sandwich if you knew the emergency prevented educators from spending much-needed time with special needs students? What if you worked on a system that supported a hospital? Knowing lives are literally on the line, I believe most people would do everything they could to resolve the emergency immediately.
What if your company processes were in conflict with the company mission? As an employee, if you understood and believed in the company mission, wouldn't you be more likely to call out problems? Conversely, if you didn't understand the "why" behind your work—if you're just working for a paycheck—would you really bother going out of your way to fix things, or would you suffer through the cumbersome process?
And what about the next time you have a position to fill? Who is more likely to refer their friends to work at your company: someone who loves the mission, or someone who doesn't understand it? You want your people promoting you to their peers outside of the company to fill positions. More importantly, you want your people attracting the right peers to join your company, not just those looking for a paycheck or nice perks. Great pay and benefits are an important part of attracting and retaining great talent, but those are extrinsic motivators. Extrinsic motivation is good for getting employees to show up every day and complete assigned tasks. However, intrinsic motivation—the desire to do something for its own sake—drives people to be more mindful about their work.
Lead with Your Purpose
Setting a purposeful expectation for your future employees—"we must help educators!" or "we help people live healthier lives"—evokes an emotional response to the job. Your people want to work because it serves a higher purpose. Your purpose is a tool to attract and retain ideal employees. Start with that first and you'll likely see a higher ratio of motivated candidates. They will believe in what you're doing and will strive to help you do it better.
If I were to write a job ad for Inventiv today, my job post title would look like one of the following:
- Help us fix broken company processes
- 63% of people don't enjoy their jobs. Let's help them find meaning in their work
- We build leaders for teams that have incredible potential
If I were not considering our purpose when writing a job post, I'd use one of these:
- Inventiv is hiring a business process analyst
- Looking for developers for our organization management platform
- We're hiring experienced leadership coaches
See the difference? Which job post title lines would you apply for?
Identify Your Purpose
If you need help putting your organization's purpose into words, we're here to help. Contact us to start a conversation about your organization's purpose.