How to Recruit Champagne Talent For a Beer Budget Job

By state buying powerThere you are one day, staring at a req for a specialist of this sort or that with a salary of “up to $700” a week. The list of required skills includes everything but fluency in Greek; the hours are somewhere between 40 and 24/7, the team is too small for the work, and the boss is so hands off he comes out of his office only to get coffee.

Garbage collectors make more than your hiring manager wants to pay and they have better hours. Plus they get to keep all the deposit bottles and cans.

How in the world, you wonder, are you ever going to recruit anyone, let alone that A talent you hear people talk about at conferences?

Fear not! Your humble Roundup servant is here to help. Take a page from the Realtor handbook, where small shacks become “quaint cottages” and “vintage charm” means “needs expensive updating.”

For us, we start by presuming the job is in Mississippi, where $697 is an average weekly paycheck. (If the job is in, say, Hawaii, as tropical a paradise as it may be, you are doomed and Roundup suggests you look here.)

With a little math, the help of the Tax Foundation, and some creative job descriptioning, you’re off to a good start. Those long hours and frequent weekends become a “dynamic work environment.” Hands-off, but demanding boss and bare-bones budget? Try, “Key player who takes the initiative and can achieve results on time and on budget.”

Here how we put it together:

Earn the weekly spending power of $800+ here in Mississippi’s New South at an exciting, fast-paced company.  We are looking for a few exceptional people to become key players on our tight knit team. We value on time, on budget results and in exchange you’ll have plenty of opportunity to demonstrate your initiative in a dynamic work environment that offers flexible hours and benefits.

It’s really all in the wording.

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Now let’s do something about the auto-response emails you send to those who actually apply. Unlike all those black hole companies who totally ignore the people they’ve actually spent money to get to apply, you need to send a spiffy note that keeps on selling. For inspiration, we turn to Fog Creek Software.

Here’s how the company starts off its response (and thank you to CareerCloud for this):

Hurrah! We have received your job application. At least, we think it’s yours. It is possible that someone who thinks very highly of you is forwarding around your resume while pretending to be you. That’s not a bad thing, is it?

In any case, this is an automatic email, sent by a mindless robot, to let you know that we’re absolutely thrilled that you would be interested in working for Fog Creek Software. We’re very honored.

It goes on like that for another 481 words, which might be overdoing it a little, even if it is so different you read on just to see what next they’ll say. Use the Fog Creek as a template to write your auto-response, just use your own words — unless you’re the Vice President.

My work here is done.


John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


4 Comments on “How to Recruit Champagne Talent For a Beer Budget Job

  1. In other worlds, like and BS people, and give the recruiting profession an even worse, and even more deserved, reputation, and do everything you can to worsen hiring and employment conditions in the world. Great approach.

  2. Seems like a potential recipe for turnover. “flexible” work is not “between 40 hours and 24/7”. Agree with Medieval down there….

  3. Just tell people what the job is and you will keep the integrity of the role as well as your own.

    1. Most companies want more than they can afford, and more than their employees are willing to give. The difference is employees often compromise, employers often don’t, on net. They will tell you with a straight face that they need someone to fill what would normally be a 100K position, but their budget is 40K, and then reject everyone you send, including people who are qualified but have some major compromise they don’t want to make, like an extended leave from the workforce. Nope, they’ll hold out forever for that ‘rock star’ candidate at 40K, who can get 100K anywhere else, and never, ever, fill the position, and then turn around and bitch and moan about a ‘shortage’ of good people. Which authors here and elsewhere will take up uncritically as a statement of fact rather than a reflection of incompetence and miserliness.

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