Couldn't agree more. What you write about your startup is very important in conveying the nature of your startup.
Dharmesh, your version is great.
'Made to Stick' is a great book that covers similar topics. I thought it was one of those "airport business books" but it is actually quite good.
Ever been to a car dealership? Unfortunately, salesmen care about buzzwords more than content. The original ad is intended to recruit a salesman. Your ad is great for attracting people who care about content, eg programmers.
You aren't being overly harsh. There may be a nicer way to say what you are saying, but the truth is that an incredible amount of marketing material has this same problem. If I hear state-of-the-art one more time, I'll scream.
Dharmesh -I think that there is actually a startup idea for YOU in this post. I'm thinking about an on-line Web 2.1.1a Startup Job Descriptor.
You login, enter a few details about the position, and the program would spin it into a buzzword-laden job posting suitable for framing or mass spamming.
Another fun online tool would be an adaptation of babelfish, but it converts phrases from "English" to "Recruiter" and "Manager" and "HR" and "Programmer". Would be fun to send a generic text block through that loop 3 or 4 times and see what it looks like at the end.
Brian, what you are talking about already exists, it's the unique "Dilbert mission statement generator". Enjoy.
Your version is obviously better but it's also much more work. Remember, it's not the company CEO or HR employee that wrote that, it's a professional recruiter. The recruiter saves a lot of time by just spamming out boilerplate all over so it's normal that the pitch looked vague. The recruiter probably only has 2 or 3 pitches. One for "small well established company", one for "industry leader" and the one you saw for startups.
OK, I get your point. But just because a recruiter uses overused lingo is no reason to get on your high horse. I suspect that they get some sort of positive response from these emails or they would change their tactics.
I wouldn't say you're overreacting, it bugs me too. I've made my stand against the platitudes and empty-speak, and it's a losing battle.
Hiring ads particularly are a content-free zone.
Time for a marketing professional to defend the profession. :-)
That blurb isn't mediocre marketing... it's not marketing at all! Boilerplate is just boilerplate, and it's functionally meaningless. It just takes up space and communicates nothing.
Saying that it must work because recruiters keep using it is like saying the Dilbert-like boilerplate must result in successful mission statements because managers keep using it. No. They just don't know any better.
I wouldn't want to hire the salespeople who respond to that blurb. By definition, they don't recognize nonsense when they hear it. These are the salespeople who will drive me crazy following hopeless leads because they can't cut through the prospect's double-talk.
Dharmesh's rewrite is more factual, but not concise. The art of marketing consists (in large part) of creating apt, concise communication. What this recruiter needs is a concise way of describing (1) what's special or unique about the startup, and (2) what special or unique attributes they are looking for in salespeople.
Couldn't have said it better myself. If you want to promote your startup, give the following details. Where did the founders come from and what is their track record. Where did the money come from and what is the investors track record. Lacking a good story on those points, try to challenge the receiver with an interesting problem to solve and some humor. Empty superlatives will produce candidates that are attracted to empty superlatives.
There's a handy-dandy tool for business plan executive summaries and business plans, that I recommend strongly. http://www.dack.com/web/bullshit.html
Have you tried to put yourself into recruiter's shoes?
Recruiters usually don't want to identify this start up in his job ad.
The reason for such cover-up is that if job ad contains enough specific about start up, then job seeker will be able to contact this start up directly. In this case recruiter would lose her 20% commission.
However I agree, that even under such circumstances job posting could look better.
Funny. David Meerman Scott did a study for the meaningless terms used in press releases, and he created the Gobbledygook Manifesto. Pretty funny to see hom pany companies are offering a "next generation, world class, cutting edge, robust, sclable solution".
Not sure if the original or similar posts actually work, but I do agree with this : "When describing your startup, avoid being platitudinal. Be different. Communicate something meaningful."
Are you being harsh? No. Just hypocritical.
"Are you an "A+" player? Do you like challenges? Are you passionate about your work? Do you like free espresso? Will you fight others for the last slice of pizza? Do you want to work at a hot and exciting venture-backed startup in Cambridge, MA, the cradle of high tech? HubSpot is currently looking for star players to add to our team to help build a gigantic company and change the way companies market their products and services. If you enjoy an unstructured, fast-paced environment where the only limit to your growth is your own capabilities, contact us today. All of our employees receive stock options and plenty of freedom."
Dmitri: Fair criticism. Thanks for calling me on my hypocriticalness (keeps me honest).
Will revisit our description. It's weird how many platitudes crept in there. Scary, actually.
Note to self: If you're not careful, one day you wake up and you're looking for A+ players to join your hot startup.
It's a rather generic ad, and that it was written by Captain Obvious is just a bonus. I would be scared off by it.
it will be great if you can pass your version to the original company who needs it the most and this way you can help another startup better itself.
As people will laugh at the startup and applauded your efforts but if the message is not passed onto the company they will keep repeating their mistake.
Yikes! That is so unprofessional! How do they think that would work?
I agree and actually your write-up is far more real and I would would be much more likely to respond.
This criticism applies to 95% of all marketing lingo - nay, 95% of all writing!
Mark Twain supposedly said once "I apologize for writing such a long letter. I didn't have time to write a short one."
Compelling writing of any type requires effort and creativity.
See, even this writing is bad...
Does anyone else think
that the startup Dharmesh described is simply wasting money by hiring a recruiter? All those founders want is someone to sort out the cover letters and resumes according to simply defined criteria. Then they pick for interviews from the first set of salespeople who most align with those criteria. Less time, less bs. And they start firing the ones who can't cut the mustard, and hiring from the next batch. Repeat as necessary. I also think one of the lessons of this article is
that platitudes have no place in the communication of most businesses, much less that of startups.