Talent Acquisition

How to Write a Truly Convincing Job Ad

Something that not enough recruiters realise is the power of branding and marketing. As I’ve written before, you can be a great company that offers the best jobs in the world but if your job adverts don’t reflect that then you won’t get the best candidates. While people will probably send in applications based on almost any advert, they won’t necessarily be the best people you could potentially get – because the top candidates are applying for jobs that seem to be much better prospects.

Crafting a great job ad is not just a matter of listing a few dull duties or recycling the ad you used five years ago. It’s a chance to showcase your employer brand and demonstrate the real, tangible reasons why the cream of the crop should find a place in your organisation.

How can you turn your organisational needs into an exciting, enticing recruitment advert? Luckily it’s easier than you might think, at least once you know how.

Be precise

Too many job adverts suffer from vagueness and don’t give a clear idea of what kind of person is needed. This is sometimes deliberate, as employers like to keep their options open and wait until they meet the successful candidate before they decide what exactly the job involves.

It’s fine to be flexible, and to want to tweak the role later to take into account your new employee’s skills. But if the ad gets watered down to the point where it’s not clear what the role is any more, then you need to make some more concrete decisions about exactly what needs the new employee will fill.

Remember it’s not for everyone

One of the best job postings ever (gender discrimination aside) was this one, in which explorer Ernest Shackleton recruited men to go with him to the South Pole:

To be honest, it doesn’t sound like my kind of thing – I’d prefer a job with a pool table and beer on Fridays. But that’s fine. I probably wouldn’t have managed very well on the expedition itself. A seasoned adventurer though would want nothing more than to be a part of this trip.

It’s a recruiter’s duty to let readers know clearly why they might not be suitable, by outlining necessary experience and qualifications. That way, unqualified people don’t have to spend their time applying for a job they won’t get. It sounds simple, but many employers shy away from stating hard requirements for fear of making the work sound unappealing. But at the risk of repeating ourselves, the best candidates will be suspicious of a job that will appear to accept just anyone.

Include only what you need

Just as an ad should be enticing without being vague, it should also be descriptive without rambling. After all, a posting is not meant to be a full job description nor should it aim to list absolutely everything the role involves. Instead its main purpose is to attract those who are likely to be qualified and interested in the role, and turn away those who are not – anything else can almost certainly be cut.

Here’s what you can safely leave out:

  • The first six paragraphs comprising very detailed company history
  • Too much about perks – perks are great but not the first thing candidates need to know
  • Promises you can’t keep – for example, “raises after six months!”
  • Overuse of jargon or acronyms

Writing a great ad for a job opening doesn’t have to be difficult, stressful or time-consuming, as long as you keep in mind throughout what a prospective candidate is likely to want to see. Put yourself in their shoes and you’ve no reason not to get it right every time!

Author: Liam Coleman is Co-Founder and Joint Managing Director with online recruitment agency BlueOctopusRecruitment in Leeds, UK.

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