This is part of my continuing series on applying Jobs-To-Be-Done product design theory to the problem of recruiting. In my first installment, I explained the concept and gave some idea of applying JTBD to recruiting would mean:
In their workshops, Bob and Chris teach how to find out why people switch from one product to another by interviewing people that have done it already. How many of us have interviewed our recent hires to find out why they switched from their old job to ours, how they found out about it, what happened in their lives to cause them to want to switch jobs? If we did that, I think we’d find that we’re advertising in the wrong places, not emphasizing the right strengths, and generally not making the applicants know that we meet their hiring criteria.
Next, I wrote about the problem of hiring passively looking developers, where the key question I addressed was: “What would you do to your recruiting efforts if you wanted to hire people that aren’t looking for a job?”
Following along that vein, and again, using JTBD techniques, let’s talk about “progress making”. Essentially, people switch (products, jobs, houses, etc) because they are trying to make progress in their lives. In order to design products that make people switch to them, we need to know what kind of progress our users are trying to make.
In this case, it’s pretty uncontroversial to say that our potential applicants are looking to make progress in their compensation, or, if they are willing to trade that against other things, they have a lower limit.
Salary, for a potential job switcher, hits all of the forces of progress making.
- They are pushed toward switching by the feeling that their current job doesn’t value them enough;
- they are pulled toward switching by a job that pays more;
- they are pulled back from switching by familiarity with their current pay structure and raise schedule;
- they are pushed away from switching by anxiety that other jobs won’t pay as well (or have less potential for future salary growth).
Dissatisfaction, aspiration, allegiance, and anxiety: to get someone to switch we need to address all of these, and increase the first two while lowering the other two. (learn more about the forces from JTBD Radio).
Our potential applicants have total knowledge of their current salary, so to help people realize they will make progress, they need to know what we are offering. For the passive looker, who is not willing to invest much in each opportunity, the risk of early filtering is high. The unknown feeds the anxiety component and does nothing to drive aspiration (the two forces our offer directly controls), so they won’t associate “progress making” with your job description.
[ASIDE: I know why we don’t list salary in job postings, but I would say that whatever those reasons are need to be balanced against wanting to make our job attractive to top developers, which we believe are not actively looking for a job. So, if we accomplish “having a good starting point for negotiation”, but not “attract top developers to applying for our job”, we failed.]
To alleviate anxiety about your offer, I would try social proof, a lossy communication channel, or possibly a transparent salary ladder.
For social proof, get candidates via referrals from your employees. People will make a judgement about your salary scale based on what they know about their contact.
By lossy communication channel, I mean a way to communicate salary possibilities such that the candidate gets an idea, but knows that it might be wrong and doesn’t interpret it as an offer. One way to do this is with a 3rd party recruiter — you give them a range, and they will leak it to the applicant, who will have skepticism for anything a recruiter tells them. You could try 3rd party ads that “estimate” a salary or write up truthful descriptions in something like GlassDoor or other salary reporting places. No one thinks those are definite, but at this point, they just need some idea.
A third option is to have total transparency and a completely non-negotiable salary ladder. This is what union and government jobs do (so it has a bad rap), but I’ve seen tech companies try it — here’s a really old post from Joel Spolsky about Fog Creek’s compensation and here’s a very recent article about Buffer’s compensation policy. Both use a formula based on mostly objective criteria.
Your goal is to throw something out there to alleviate anxiety enough to get them to contact you.