Job Description as a Love Letter

A pastor in rural Missouri wrote me to apologize for plagiarizing our job listings.

Early in the company’s life, I set a different standard for how we would talk to prospective team members. We weren’t going to present a list of requirements like a sanctimonious Myers-Briggs shopping list. We weren’t going to bulletize our demands or grab a template from the Microsoft Word Library of Mind Numbing Job Requirements.

We were going to write a sincere letter to our dream candidate, and hope that they would write us back.

For some reason, Father Marion was browsing our job descriptions that day, and one of them spoke to him—not the job, but the way we wrote it. He told me that he was rewriting his church’s help  wanted postings to take the same approach. He felt like the standard job description just didn’t fit their values.

I know what he meant. I’ve always felt like job descriptions were yelling at me, shaking their finger, and telling me what they demanded from me and from the world.

When I started Glowforge, I wanted to put together an amazing group of people—a community of brilliant folks who would build something wonderful together.

There are a lot of places you can go to play business with bozos. There are not so many places where you can build something impactful with people who you really care about.

We’ve been remarkably successful in doing that. And the lowly job description is our secret weapon. Here’s a guide to exactly how we do it:


Don’t paste the marketing blob the PR team puts at the bottom of your press release. The introduction is your chance to set the stage – to give them a glimpse into the heart and soul of your company. Talk about what you do and how you do it, in a way that’s going to excite someone to come join you.

Why We Need You

This is the single most important part. Why do you need this person?

At Glowforge, I ask the hiring manager: why will our company fail if they’re not here?

For customer support: “Our company depends on our customers for our livelihood. To our customers, you are our company.

For an e-commerce developer: “ Everything our company does depends on one thing: customers connecting with a new opportunity… through the experience you build.”

This isn’t what the job is – it’s why it matters. Paint a picture of the impact they’ll have, the difference they’ll make, the void they’ll fill. What is going to get your dream candidate passionate about the opportunity?

Here’s What You’ll Be Doing

Don’t just list responsibilities and requirements, give them a taste of the adventure that awaits them. Use vivid language and concrete examples to make it come alive.

Not: “Timely and accurate end-of-month financials close”.

How about: “You know our finances are our history and our crystal ball, so you deliver the end-of-month close quickly and precisely.”

You Need These Qualifications

Some candidates will apply for a job where they meet most qualifications. Others take you at your word. Do you want to miss out on the candidates who believe you?

Don’t make it a requirement unless it’s really required. If you would hire an amazing referral from your friend who didn’t have the qualification, then it’s only a nice-to-have (put it in the next section).

And – describe your dream candidate!

“Excellent management skills”? No. How about:

“The people you hire love working for you and would follow you anywhere. They tell you they’re doing the most effective work of their careers, and their performance numbers back it up.”

You know what? The mediocre manager who would nod and smile at “excellent management skills” might think twice about ‘follow you anywhere’ and ‘numbers back it up’. But your dream candidate? They will jump for joy and think, “I cannot wait to talk about this during my interview!”

It Would Be Nice If…

You’d really like it if they had experience with your CRM system, but… if you need to, you can train someone.

It would be a big leg up if that mechanical engineer had already worked on CNC machines, but if not, they’ll learn quick.

These are the Nice Ifs. It’s everything you want, that didn’t make the cut of a You Need These. Your ideal candidate is going to match some of these and get even more excited.

Now, close it out

Finally it’s time bring it all home. Don’t just tell them how to apply, tell them why they should. Reiterate what makes your company special and what makes this job a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Share your equal opportunity statement… ideally, one you wrote yourself that’s really about your team and not just legal boilerplate (even if legal has to sign off).

By following this recipe, you’ll create a job description that’s more than just a shopping list of requirements – it’s a connection to your future employee, a promise of the incredible journey that awaits them. So go forth and write with passion, with purpose, and with the knowledge that the perfect candidate is out there, just waiting to be wooed. Your perfect candidate is out there, and they’re going to love you for it.

PS… know any great sales folks?

Glowforge is hiring, and we’re looking for an amazing Head of Sales and a tremendous Senior Retail Sales Manager. If either of those sound like someone you’d know, we’d be so grateful if you’d introduce us to them!