If you write an average job ad, then you’re going to get an average response!

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boredThis is how I feel when I read some job ads today!

I’m actually surprised that you’re still reading when you know I’m going to be talking about writing better job ads!!  Well good for you!

Yes I know it’s one of the more boring topics but the more I look at job ads online (for research purposes only of course), the more I’m astounded by how poorly they are still written.

Copy and paste the job description much?

Even though job boards have decreased in popularity compared to other sourcing channels, they are still a key sourcing channel in most regions, therefore it’s still important to craft ads that increase your chances of finding qualified candidates and that diversify your employee sourcing channels. This means writing better recruitment ads, understanding why some recruitment ads fail and using creativity to set your client’s organization apart.

Write Better Recruitment Ads

There are three types of ads you’ll work with most:

  • Internal ads
  • External ads
  • Mobile ads

Internal ads target employees who already work within an organization. Writing copy for these ads uses different language than external ads, which target candidates seeking employment outside of an organization.

It’s unnecessary to extol the virtues of working for the company since the employee already has an idea of the culture and the work environment. Instead, talk about how the job can further their career within the company. You can still provide them with an overview of what that particular division in the business is doing as that may not be common knowledge in an organisation with 3000 plus people.   Tailor internal ads using familiar language, and speak to your candidates as existing employees.  If internal mobility is a key focus area for your organisation then spend the time to write interesting and tailored content for that audience.

External ads explain the benefits of working with the organization. Build the employee value proposition (EVP), and create an advertisement that attracts potential candidates to the organization.  Now I know that you’re sitting there think….yes Suzanne we know all of this.  Well if you know all of this, then my question is, can you honestly, with hand on heart say that you really think about your ads and whether you’re providing Meaning, Challenge and Reward statements that will attract and engage the best candidates?

Research shows that when deciding to either stay with a company or to join a new organisation, the majority of individuals will focus their decisions making on the three key areas outlined below, therefore messaging should be targeted to communicate role meaning, challenge or reward.

how to write a good job ad

The amazing thing is that job ads, if written in a compelling way can increase sharability.  What do I mean?  Well if I’m an active candidate looking for a job and I see a job ad that is a-maz-ing, but may not be right for me, I may just pass it onto an old colleague or friend of mine that I think may be interest (even though they aren’t looking).

We try to think of all these creative ways to attract candidates..which I’m a huge advocate for, but the quality everyday standard attraction methods are declining.

When writing your job ad think about how you can provide insight about the business in a way that does not come from corporate comms.  Think about something interesting about the business or the division. It’s fine to say what you are looking for but think about writing it in a way that is attractive.

job ad2

So instead of saying “experience leading a team”, think about what the hook is for that person…. “with your extensive team management experience, you’ll be leading a senior group of sales experts who need further support and guidance to deliver across multiple regions and markets” .  This says to me, I’ve got some great sales experience in the team, I’ll need to look at better ways to help them deliver in a variety of regions – and that’s my challenge.

When working with mobile ads, which have grown increasingly relevant over the past few years, become aware of how your ad looks on various mobile devices. Mobile ads made for smartphones can become warped on tablets, muddling your ad and rendering it ineffective.  Is your career site mobile optimised or will I be frustrated as a candidate when I go and try to apply online on my phone or tablet?  Don’t lose great candidates because your technology is 2nd grade!

What Makes a Good Ad?

  • A strong headline
  • Effective use of subheadings
  • An enticing job summary
  • Body copy that sells the role

Strong headlines use language with the potential candidate in mind. Don’t complicate the name of a role or use language the client assumes everyone knows. Instead, use clear, concise language. Subheadings introduce vital information, usually at the top of the ad. Use keywords for subheadings, and talk about job perks: parking, location, flexibility, and so on. Job summaries sell the role to candidates. Try to hold their attention in 150 characters, and utilize keywords candidates are searching for.

Use IDEA for the body copy.

IDEA stands for: Interest, Desire, Enthusiasm, and Action.

Interest: What’s the payoff for the candidate? Highlight the interests that make them read on.
Desire: What’s in it for them? Going back to the idea of EVPs, explain the factors that keep employees in the organization.
Enthusiasm: Differentiate the way you post jobs. Don’t use the same ad for different roles. Diversify your ads, tailor them to the job, and make potential candidates excited about reading it.
Action: Tell the reader to take action; compel them. Ask yourself from their perspective: What do I have to do to make this happen?

Using the aforementioned guide creates successful employee sourcing channels and provides recruitment managers with a step-by-step guide for creating better advertisements. However, the most important concept is understanding your candidates and speaking to them through concise and compelling copy.

We constantly talk about how the market is changing and candidates expect more, yet the quality of what we say and do to attract them doesn’t reflect that.  So the bottom line is, if you want a great candidate to apply for your role online, then make the effort and spend the time creating something worth them reading!

2 thoughts on “If you write an average job ad, then you’re going to get an average response!

    timwsavage said:
    December 11, 2013 at 4:03 am

    Great Article!

    Thanks for writing it.

      suzchadwick responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm

      Pleasure Tim. Hopefully it helps recruiters to write more engaging and exciting ads! If I was a client, I know that’s what I would want.

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