Crafting The Perfect Job Posting

Have you ever applied for a job? No doubt you have! Part of finding the right jobs to apply for includes reviewing job descriptions and spotting vital information. The more detail you have to review about the job, the better. The same goes for hiring voice talent online. Voice talent love details because each one helps to determine if they are a good fit for your job specifically and how to best interpret your script.

Here are some tips on how to create a job posting that talent will be interested in.

Crafting a Job Title

Just how important is it that your job be titled well?

You might be surprised how important this aspect of your job posting is. Think of when you scan articles in your newsfeed or emails in your inbox. Are you a bookworm? Voracious readers, though wise enough to not judge a book by its cover, often rely upon the book’s title to pique their interest and further intrigue them to learn more.

This is exactly how voice talent evaluate the title of your job posting. In the entertainment industry, people generally refer to this type of posting as a “casting call.”

The title of your casting call is important because it’s like the headline of a newspaper article or subject line in an email. In fact, the way job postings are sent out to talent or talent agencies is usually via email with the job title ending up as the email’s subject line.

Depending on where or how you are posting your job (or casting call), the role the title you choose plays can be more or less importance. When the job title is the subject line of the email, a lot is riding on that title being well defined, relevant and engaging.

Keep in mind that this title could be viewed online on a job board, as the subject of a thread on a social network or may serve as the primary contents of a tweet. You need to get the most important information into a very small character count. If you use Twitter as your guide, adopt the 140 characters or less approach.

Depending on how generous your character count is, you will need to be creative and may be required to use even less characters to explain what you’re casting (or looking) for.


Defining The Category

When most people think of voice-overs, they tend to gravitate toward radio and television commercials. In fact, the voice-over universe is so much larger than those 2 categories. There are 12 categories of voice-over work. In alphabetical order, they are:

  • Audiobooks
  • Business
  • Cartoons
  • Documentaries
  • Education
  • Internet
  • Movie Trailers
  • Podcasting
  • Radio
  • Telephone
  • Television
  • Video games

One of the most basic things that you will need to know going in is how your voice-over will be used, or in other words, what kind of application the voice-over is part of, be it a corporate training video for internal use or the voice of a talking toy with global distribution.

The number of ways you can use voice to enrich your offerings is exciting. Right now, you might only be producing projects that include voice-overs for a limited number of categories, but now that you know about these other ways of using voice, imagine how much greater you can communicate to your audience of both internal and external customers.


Why else does category of work matter?

The cost of a voice-over is determined mainly by how the voice-over will be used. Second to that, the amount of time and effort spent producing the voice-over plays a critical role in pricing. This may go without saying, but the larger the audience who will hear the voice-over, the more it will cost.

You could have a short recording made that lasts only 30 seconds heard by millions of people. :30 of voice-over could, in terms of a Super Bowl advertisement for instance, command a much larger fee than a :30 commercial airing at any other time. This is why a voice-over to be used for broadcast purposes will take into account factors like market size, be it local, regional or national. The number of ears the message will reach directly impacts the amount of money a talent will charge.

Similarly, if you have a longer voice-over recording made, you’ll want to consider its usage. Is the voice-over for a documentary that is being shown at film festivals or is airing on a national television network or a popular specialty cable channel? Will the product be used on Netflix or distributed in any other way that extends the reach of your voice-over?

You’ll have to consider audience size again in this case and the cost of the voice-over will be different from say a long form narration in the audiobook category. The work required of the narrator will be immense and you’ll need to pay for the time talent spend narrating and editing the audiobook. That said, despite the amount of work put in, the expected audience for this non-broadcast form of audio will be significantly less and that audience size will be reflected in what you pay to have an audiobook narrated. If you are procuring narration for a New York Times Best Selling author, you might pay a bit more for your audiobook narration than a publisher would for lesser known titles or authors.

Selecting Language

Picking a language to have your voice-over recorded in is usually straightforward. You know that you need to reach people groups in certain languages, now, all you need to do is find the talent who can voice them!

One chief consideration you need to make when picking a language is knowing if there are multiple dialects associated with the language you require. Once you have determined which dialect you need, you’re in a better position to find native speakers of that particular language who can best communicate to your audience. For example, did you know that there are over X dialects of Spanish spoken in the world today?

There is the Spanish of Spain (often referred to as Castellano because it is from the Castile region of Spain), the languages spoken on its Peninsula and variations on the Spanish language spoken in Latin America with each country and region adopting and evolving their own version of the language. When you understand the nuance and diversity of a primary languages’ dialects, it becomes vitally important that you identify which dialect of that language you move ahead with.

Bearing all this in mind, it is crucial that you know which dialect you need and the importance of localization.

Have you ever come by the term, localization? What this means is that you localize your content, whether it be text, imagery or concepts to an audience so that they understand, in their own language, culture and lexicon, what you’re trying to say and in a way that relates directly to them. Localizing a message means that you don’t take the “one size fits all” approach to communication, but rather, a narrower more strategic approach to speaking to a group of people in meaningful, accurate ways. Localization takes so much more than just what accent that group of people has; it means you write for their culture, context and in the words that resonate best with the people.

So, when it comes to picking that language, go for the core or primary language as your baseline and then select the appropriate dialect. As in our examples above, you might be looking for Spanish (Castilian), French (Parisian) or Portuguese (Iberian).


Choosing an Accent

When deciding upon what accent to use, you need to think about who your audience is and the kind of accent they expect to hear in a voice-over that is speaking directly to them on a given subject.

For some companies, they want to work with talent who have a neutral accent, that is to say, no discernible regionalisms in the way a talent speaks. This is particularly true for national campaigns where the goal is to have the voice-over reach as many people as possible. Think of how many different accents there are in the US and in Canada. Having a neutral accent deliver the copy ensures everyone can understand what the message is, no matter where they live within a country, or in the case of North America, continent.

In the US, this kind of neutral accent is generally believed to be the Midwestern accent, or, for those looking to have more ‘national’ sound, they’d be looking for an NPR (National Public Radio) style voice. In the UK, the national style of voicing would be in the style of presenters on the BBC and in Canada, the neutral, more polished sound would reflect the CBC voicing style.

That said, maybe having a neutral accent isn’t for your project. If your recording is for a local radio commercial where a strong regional accent is present, you might want to consider auditioning talent who are from that region or are capable of replicating the accent. What matters most is the audience and if they can relate to, trust and feel comfortable with what they are hearing. When you’re looking to have that Real Person read delivered in a market like Boston, the accent you use may very well reflect their fellow Bostonians for a best result. If the ad is for a local business and geared to locals, having someone who can perform the accent and manner of speech that audience is accustomed to will likely make your efforts more effective communication wise.

Accents also have a currency, if you will. When a North American company, let’s say a maker of a beauty product or owner of a spa, produces content that calls for sophistication, assumed authority and class, they might veer in the direction of a variation on what North Americans consider to be a relatively standard British accent. On the other side of the world, the North American accent may be in greater demand because products coming from the US or Canada are being promoted and enjoyed. Using a North American accent on your audio recording abroad can help people in the business world or even speak directly to expats who might make up a significant part of a region’s population.

At the end of the day, choosing an accent starts with choosing a language. Remember that you always start with a base language and that the accent is another layer deep within the linguistic requirements you have. For instance, you could be looking for someone who speaks English and lives in the US but has a slight Spanish accent. This would be Spanish-accented English.

Whatever accent you opt to go with, make sure that it is the right one for your audience and best communicates your message to that audience.


Selecting a Gender

Do you know who you’d like to read your script? Maybe you already know that you’re looking for a female voice or have determined that you’ll be hiring a male voice talent.

While some applications of voice-over lend themselves to one gender over another (like male voices being used more frequently in movie trailers and female voices being used more in telephony), you’ll find that all voice artists, no matter what their gender, are able to speak to any medium you are casting for.

In those cases where you don’t know if you’d like to work with a female voice or a male voice, there is always the option to hear from both genders. You might be surprised!

We’ve had at least one instance where a client was looking to hire both a male talent and a female talent to voice their public service announcement. After reviewing the auditions for both projects, the client liked the female voice artist’s interpretation so much that they revised the original script meant to be read by a male voice artist so that the female talent could read it instead! She ended up booking both jobs, not just the one that she had auditioned for.

You might also want to consider the unique role of female voices in casting children’s roles, both for male and female characters. One of the norms in voice-over is that adult female voice talent generally voice young male character roles between the ages of 7-14. This is primarily because these female voice artists are:

  • Capable of doing so
  • More convincing than adult male voice talent in this area
  • Better able to maintain continuity - their voices won’t change over time (unlike young boys whose voices change as they get older)

Sometimes, you’ll know it when you hear it. That’s one of the beauties of online casting and putting yourself in the director’s chair. You listen to the voice samples and then decide who you’d like to work with.

Going back to your audience, think about who they would like to hear from. Would they expect that the voice-over for this particular purpose be delivered by a male or a female voice?

When you take into account the messaging and the people meant to hear it, it becomes easier to identify what role the voice talent is playing and also which gender could be the right fit for commercial, phone system, explainer video, movie trailer or audiobook narration.


Preferring an Age

Much of casting has to do with finding the right person to speak to your audience. In many instances, the age of that voice will make a big impact.

Depending on who you’re trying to reach, one voice age may connect better than another, for instance, if you are casting for a toy store commercial and want your voice-over to resonate with moms and dads, you might choose to look for people around the same age as your target audience.

Knowing who your audience is will make picking the voice age a lot easier. Using the knowledge you have of your target market, you’ll better know when it’s most effective to choose a child voice over a teen voice over a senior’s voice.

The messaging also plays a role and some messages sound better coming from voices that have years of experience behind them, or perhaps, less than a decade of life lived to date.

Keep in mind as you cast for talent that voice age often comes across differently than someone’s actual age in years on this earth. Sometimes, voice talent who appear to be physically older may still sound ten or twenty years younger than they appear. That’s one of the fascinating things about the human voice, the various voice types of instruments and the rates at which an individual’s voice matures.

Men’s voices mature much faster than women’s voices. To give you an idea of how that plays out, a woman’s voice fully matures by the time they are forty years old. There’s a lot of time in between for the female voice to grow from childhood to maturity in terms of her instrument’s growth.

Some talent can voice multiple voice ages. A young adult may be able to modify their voice to produce an older teenage sound and also reach slightly above into the realm of a middle age voice.

Looking at a voice talent’s picture isn’t the best indicator of how old their voice sounds nor is it a good gauge for what their voice may sound like. Remember that as you are listening. One of the best aspects of the casting process at when you’ve posted a job is that you don’t see the faces of talent who audition. Let your ears be your guide! This will free you up artistically to better listen and focus on your goal: finding the right voice to represent your brand.


Casting Role

What role is the voice talent supposed to play? There are a handful of roles that you can choose from, each one serving a unique purpose in the way a voice-over is interpreted and delivered to your audience.

These roles include:

  • Real Person
  • Narrator
  • Announcer
  • Spokesperson
  • Teacher


Describing the Work

You’ve already done all the hard work. Now, the last thing to do is communicate those details via a job posting. The best place to do this in within the work description field which is the main body of the job posting. The body of the job posting gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself and your project to the talent as well as give a little backstory for what you’re doing, what you require, and what your goal for the project is. Talent enjoy hearing how they can be of help to you and often like to know more detail than you think is necessary. Their job is to use all of the information you share about your audience, needs and dreams to bring your vision to fruition.
Getting Technical

If you have specific technical requirements such as a file format, or a special piece of audio or video equipment needed in order to complete your job, be sure to outline any technical needs for talent, especially if they are critical to your success. If you need someone to deliver the files within 24 hours, say so! If you want to direct the session via ipDTL, Source-Connect, Skype, FaceTime or ISDN, make that known so that talent will only reply if they have those capabilities.

Spelling out these details early on in the process will ensure that you get what you want and will save you a bunch of back and forth (or additional work on your end). Another factor you might want to consider is how the talent’s studio equipment meshes with your production environment. If you know that a certain type of microphone will work best with your overall production, say what the microphone is and make that one of your requirements.

Providing Artistic Direction

When you begin a project, do you appreciate a roadmap to guide you along the way? Voice talent do, too. Although they can provide an artistic interpretation of your script with little to no direction, it is far better for you, your brand and the voice talent if you have presented them with clear instructions on how you’d like them to sound and breathe life into your script.

Let the talent know what your vision is and they’ll happily factor that into their artistic interpretations of the copy. Doing this is called giving artistic direction.

If you’ve never done this before, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to get the best possible auditions. There are pieces of the puzzle that only you have to contribute and pieces of the puzzle that the talent will provide to complete your vision.

Analyzing your script is one way to determine how they will approach it. Whatever details are apparent in the script will give them insight about what they are being asked to perform. Questions not answered by the script, however, need to be posed by the talent themselves, especially if you’ve not provided a lot of background information or artistic direction.

Voice talent will ask the following questions below to help set the scene for themselves and build a backstory. Basic analysis of your script will include:

  • Figuring out who your audience is
  • Building a back story
  • Understanding context
  • Reading between the lines
  • Telling a story objectively

If you want to leave little to chance, consider the following questions and answer them through artistic direction:

  • Who am I?
  • Who am I talking to?
  • What am I talking about?
  • When will the message be heard? Is it time sensitive?
  • Where is my audience? Where will this message be heard (country, event, etc)?
  • Why is this message important?
  • How can I best convey the essence of the brand?


Setting Session Location Expectations

It’s best at the job posting stage to advise if you need the voice talent to come into your studio, or if you’re like the majority of people, are happy if the talent records from their studio.

Why is it important to make this distinction now? Consider if you were applying for a job and you found out after the interview and the contract was signed that the company needs you to relocate to Iceland (sorry to all those fine people in Iceland). You’d be more than a little surprised, right? 

While you may not require the talent to fly to Iceland to do the recording, you may prefer that they visit your Los Angeles production facility or New York City recording studio. Telling the talent in advance that this is your preference eliminates any surprises and ensures that only those talent replying to your job are 100% able to be on site.