Bar chart of Textio Scores for major television networks
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ESPN vs Showtime: Job post face-off

Just one of the many challenges that recruiters face (especially for technical roles) is turning a formal job description into an effective job advertisement. When the role documentation delivered by the hiring manager has too much formality, repetition, industry jargon, and is just plain too long, it’s going to take some hard work to make a good job ad.

Great recruiters seem to work alchemy to turn this kind of lead into gold—there’s definitely an art to it, but also a science. Let’s dissect two examples of current job posts from the same industry: Television Networks.

Taking a look at the Textio Index, we can see there is a wide range of scores for the TV heavy-hitters like Disney, NBCUniversal, CBS, and Netflix. Showtime comes in with a really low Textio Score of 3 out of 100, even though Showtime is owned by CBS who averages a somewhat better (although still poor) score of 23. The upper end of the range is dominated by newcomers Hulu and Netflix, but also by ESPN. With a score of 41 they are still mediocre, but way better than a 3. I searched the careers websites of both Showtime and ESPN and pulled one current job description from each to see what makes them tick.

It’s showtime, Showtime.

The very first job I randomly pulled from Showtime Networks turned out to be almost on par with their Textio Index showing, scoring just 6. The first strange thing about it is how much of the post is devoted to naming Showtime channels and programs in ALL CAPS. The first three paragraphs say zero about the job; it’s just all about Showtime marketing.

Textio product screen for job posting analysis of Master Control Operator role at Showtime featuring "Really Bad" Textio Score, Strengths list, Problems list, and "slightly masculine" tone on gender tone scale

This job listing for a position at Showtime is a pretty tough read

Despite this excess, Textio identifies the overall length of the post as being just about right, and the proportion of bulleted text is fine. But the Showtime listing really falls down on its lack of verbs and “you” statements, as you can see in this short excerpt:

"Verifying all cues and run-times for all on-air material.

Verifying voice-overs and graphics for quality and the correct content. Also responsible for airing the VO’s/graphics, at the scheduled times, as per the broadcast log.

Verifying playlists, six (6) hours ahead, to ensure that all programming is here & available."

These bullets aren’t even experience requirements; they are clearly just job duties that were ported directly into the ad from the original job description, without any editing. The Showtime listing does have some EOE language, although I think this qualifies as fairly perfunctory, which isn’t going to help their recruiting metrics very much: “Equal Opportunity Employer Minorities/Women/Veterans/Disabled.”

ESPN scores a big win

The ESPN job listing I pulled, in contrast, scores pretty well in Textio at 73. That’s much higher than their overall average of 41, so I’m guessing that ESPN also has some lower-scoring job posts on their careers site. Let’s see what’s working well in this one:

Textio product screen for job posting analysis of Manager, Software Engineering role at ESPN featuring "Above Average" Textio Score, Strengths list, Problems list, and "neutral" tone on gender tone scale

This ESPN job listing shows some serious panache!

All of those green highlights indicate language that statistically helps this post recruit more qualified candidates faster, contributing a lot of points to their score. I bet we could quickly push that score over 90 by removing some of the repetition (shown in gray) and corporate jargon (orange).

This job listing also scores a perfectly neutral gender tone by including an equal number of phrases that statistically attract more men or more women to apply (blue and purple highlights respectively). The hiring data shows that gender-neutral job posts can shave a lot of time off your hiring process by filling your talent pool faster with more qualified candidates from all demographics.

ESPN’s equal opportunity language, like Showtime’s, is also pretty brief. But at least they include this line, which sure makes it feel a lot more authentic: “Our goal is to create an inclusive workplace for all.

The winner: ESPN by a mile

This edition of job post face-offs has a clear winner in ESPN. Highly effective listings like this one are obviously contributing to their rank at the top of the competition—along with Hulu and Netflix—when it comes to hiring strong talent in network television.

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