My cousin Wayne and I do a lot of salmon and steelhead fishing here in Washington state, and I must admit that he’s an expert fisherman and I’m the rookie. Every time I miss hooking a fish or lose it on the boat, he politely says, “just another rookie mistake.”

As the economy improves we are seeing employers in our industry putting out the help wanted sign in a variety of ways. Some are using LinkedIn, others use headhunters and some companies are still using more traditional methods to find that key person they want to hire.

LinkedIn has developed an excellent format for employers looking to fill open positions. It forces employers to be very intentional in describing what they want and expect from an applicant.

The format for posting a job on LinkedIn basically includes a job description, position summary, specific responsibilities, skills/experience required and a description of the company placing the ad.

Most of the job postings I looked at were not entry-level positions, but rather key positions with an underlying expectation that applicants must be able to hit the ground running. In other words, they were positions that required the applicant to know much more than just the fundamentals of managing an office, managing operations, performing project management, estimating or accounting.

I also noticed a big difference between how seasoned, successful organizations write their want ads and how less seasoned companies advertise for employees. For example, one company placed an ad that detailed 25 essential requirements the applicant must have, while another ad described only five basic requirements that most people would have if they were looking for that particular position.


The word intentional in this case means the employer posting a job opportunity must create a deliberate, planned, purposeful, calculated or premeditated ad that lists at a minimum the job description, position summary, specific responsibilities, skills/experience required and a description of the company placing the ad.

One particularly excellent project management posting began with a four-page overview of the position, 18 key accountabilities, a listing of 33 essential skill/experience requirements and a one-page description of the 80-year-old company.

In comparison, a 10-year-old company’s project manager ad listed a brief job description, four skills required and four paragraphs about the company.

There is no doubt that the 10-year-old company will be inundated with far more resumes to review than the 80-year-old company will because its ad wasn’t written to filter the applicants.

When an employer writes a generic project manager ad, it will attract everyone who thinks they can do the job, as well as those who have never project managed a construction project. It clearly will not attract the best of the best project managers. 

The way in which a job opportunity is advertised is a direct reflection on those who wrote the ad as well as the company and the company’s culture. The best of the best are not likely to apply to a poorly written, generic advertisement. And this leads us to the real problem in hiring the best of the best: the boss, otherwise known as the big cheese.


If you can’t hire for the right reasons you shouldn’t be doing the hiring.

When an employer lets his or her own insecurities get in the way of hiring a truly qualified candidate, it most often leads to failure. We have to remember that people hire people. If the person doing the hiring has frailties, they will most likely not hire the best of the best. Instead, they will continue to hire people whom they think will most likely:

  • Be loyal only to them
  • Be easy to control
  • Not pose a threat
  • Praise them
  • Tell them everything

For example, if a very insecure employer were to write an ad for a job opportunity from his heart, it might read something like this:

“Applicant will do the job described and report to me and be totally loyal to me and not make any decisions without first consulting ME. Most importantly, the applicant will never go over my head. Applicant must be able to lead their team the way that I want them led, and must be able to take constructive criticism from me. Applicant shall at no time take direction from anyone else other than me and shall inform me if anyone gives such direction or talks bad about me.”

Believe it or not, staff is keeping an invisible report card on how well their employers hire. If the person doing the hiring is constantly hiring the wrong person, the staff’s level of confidence quickly diminishes and the whole issue of new hires becomes a serious joke. This puts any company on a rapid profit and morale decline.


I really like the heading, “Essential Job Responsibilities and Requirements” in a job posting because it filters out those who need not apply, thereby saving HR and the boss a lot of time and energy. When an applicant sees the word essential in a job advertisement, they believe that the company knows exactly who they are looking for. 

By writing a very intentional job posting the employer is saying, “We know what we want in an applicant and we will hire the most qualified candidate.” This kind of company is not looking for someone who will stroke the vice president’s ego or laugh at his jokes. They are really looking hard for that someone who can do the job and do it better than anyone else. This describes a very intentional, healthy and wise leadership team that has learned over time that each position and person in their organization is vital to their ongoing success.

As the economy improves, the job market will heat up and more and more subcontractors will be posting ads looking for that estimator, project manager, engineer or bookkeeping position they must fill. Will you be intentional or unintentional in the hiring process? Or will you make a rookie mistake?