How informal is too informal for a startup job posting


Do you think this is too informal for an opening to a job posting:

We are in need of a super-motivated pirate/ninja/rockstar/(insert more web 2.0 buzz words) marketing/bizdev guru to join our fantastic, boot-strapped and growing startup, Predator Web Systems. Wow, that was a mouthful. Named after the movie of the same name, we are building a one of a kind special ops team to take on the web and build fantastic and profitable SaaS (software as a service) products.
It then goes into bullet point stuff about what we do, what the job is and requirements.

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asked Sep 6 '11 at 01:15
327 points
  • I wouldn't apply for your company job or invest any money in your company based on that job posting. I came to that decision at "super-motivated" and cemented it by the first comma. That job post is 1) offensive to professionals, 2) representative of posers, 3) horribly outdated, 4) demonstrates a lack of actual startup experience, and 5) will attract generally poor-quality applications. – Sold Out Activist 13 years ago
  • @Activist no need to be rude here. The guy is just asking for help. And since they're bootstrapping I doubt they have any venture pitches. – Philippe 13 years ago
  • They need to know that their overall attitude demonstrated by that job posting-- if it carries over to the rest of their business-- will put them at odds with most venture capitalists, significantly decreasing the chances they'll ever exit the bootstrapping phase. Plus VCs will be much more rude. Finally, everyone has a venture pitch, for everything: trying to get that girl's number, trying to get a raise, trying to convince your wife to buy that new gadget. Most of it's automatic and internal. If you want to get money from VCs you have to be polish your pitch early and often. – Sold Out Activist 13 years ago
  • Thanks for the advice Activist but you definitely could try to offer more constructive criticism. There is a reason I asked it here after all. We are bootstrapped, not seeking VC, and this will be our first ever hire so yes, I don't have startup experience. What we have done though is build a profitable startup, from nothing, on our first try which is more than a lot of 'posers'. Obviously if we were writing to VCs I wouldn't go with this tone. – Nextgenneo 13 years ago

6 Answers


Pirate and ninja references stopped being funny about 5 years ago at least. So I would drop that. Also, you have a grammatical error just three words into the paragraph. This post will not attract professionals.

Having said that, I think it's OK to be quirky, you just have to do it right.

answered Sep 6 '11 at 02:10
176 points
  • My thoughts as well. Lose the wacky 2002 internet references and fix the grammar and it will be an alright job posting. – J Sstartup 13 years ago
  • Hmmm well the tone was sort of making fun of those terms but I guess it doesn't come across that way. – Nextgenneo 13 years ago
  • Go light on the humor in job postings. Everyone thinks they're funnier than they actually are - if you're not working as a successful comedian, you're probably offending more people than you think when joking around. – Blueberryfields 13 years ago


We are need a super-motivated pirate/ninja/rockstar/(insert more web 2.0 buzz words)

I think you're a bit mistaken; your add isn't informal, it speaks to a specific sub-culture of the overall software developer community.

"Informality" is about, well, the absence of formality -- casual dressing, a certain tone, low power-distance.

Your add is about a certain subculture of startups & developers, who think being a "rock star developer" is a good thing (definition one |definition two )(please do follow the links). Now, some of the 'good' rock star developers are incredibly smart, and a huge asset to any company. But if you want to attract these people, you really really need to walk the talk. And especially note that for some people, that label is a huge turnoff and sign of cluelessness.

answered Sep 6 '11 at 03:36
Jesper Mortensen
15,292 points


Your job post comes across as a company who is a bit pretentious. It's good that you are bootstrapping, but apart from that, your startup's history is yet to be played out. The buzz words are really marketing buzz words to stroke someone's ego. Would you want to hire a egotistical rockstar?

If I was a potential person looking to work at a startup, I would be put off by such an advert. Getting into the startup game has more job security risk to the developers when compared to startup that already have some strong history. I would want to look for "straight talking" information.

answered Sep 7 '11 at 18:51
144 points


Depends on who you want to attract. If you want to attract a pirate/ninja/rockstar, then you DEFINITELY want to use the above language. If you want to attract a seasoned "professional", then you want to use a more 'professional' approach. If you're building a pirate/ninja/rockstar culture, then do it from day 1 and do it with your job posting, interview process, new hire process, and so on. Good luck!

answered Sep 6 '11 at 01:58
61 points


I don't aim to make my job descriptions "Informal". I find a more useful metric to be "Culturally savvy".

A job posting which will interest me (and, I hope, the postings I put up) will manage to communicate two things : that the company is professional in the productive, kickass sense of the word, as well as possessing of a unique (or quirky) culture.

Can you turn out new features for Javascript based web-apps faster than a
hellfire missile taking a bunker apart? Do you know Node.JS so well
that coding for it feels like flying on auto-pilot? Come work for
Predator Web Systems. Named after the UAV, we're aiming to rid the
world of some nasty issues, stat.

answered Sep 6 '11 at 11:51
426 points


Dont ever write this in job posting, don't waste your and people's time.
1) Write exact stack of technologies you are using or planning to use.
2) Write exact amount of compensation you are ready to give (exact sum of money from xk to yk per year or number of % in company)
3) Add some words describing you and people who are already working under startup.

answered Sep 6 '11 at 13:05
Areshchanka Alexandr
49 points
  • I've never seen compensation figures mentioned in job ads. Never seen exact technology stacks either. – Philippe 13 years ago

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