Google the term ‘how to write a job ad’ and you’ll get about 617 million results back. Clearly, it’s an art form, rather than an easy step-by-step process but you’ll find below a few tips to get you started.
When you’re contemplating how to write your job ad, consider what your applicants want and what will initially attract them to it. Think beyond as well, and consider what your company can offer.
A SEEK survey has revealed that candidates want detail on the ‘location, salary and skills that are required’, the ‘clarity of the position’, as well as information on the ‘culture of the company’. This is just part of what comprises an effective job ad.
Let’s get into it then. Below are ten steps on how to write a compelling job ad that reaches and attracts candidates.
1. Start with a clear job title
This is the most important part of your job ad and needs to stand out the moment an applicant comes across it. Steer clear from adding jargon, as 60% of candidates say terms like ‘ninja’, ‘guru’, and ‘superstar’ are gimmicky.
As fun and creative as they sound, no candidate is going to type “sales guru” into Google – aim to use industry standard titles instead. Mention the level and type of role, and use terms that candidates would search for.
2. Tell the company’s story
Assume candidates have no idea about your company or clients. Start off with a small introduction on who you are and what you do. Highlight your achievements, reputation and include your company mission and core values. You could always mention when your company was created, as well as the number of employees, but they can always find this information on your website.
Mention the specific team they will be working with. For example, if the job is a marketing role, mention the marketing team and the work they’ve done or plan to do. Use words such as ‘you will’ or ‘you would’ to give the candidate some insight on what their role would entail if they were selected. You could also mention any opportunities such as travel or promotions to sell attractive qualities about your company.
3. Short introduction
You’re writing an ad, not a job description. The two are very similar, but a job description is usually an internal document created to clarify what the role will do, and a job ad’s primary purpose is to get the right person to click ‘apply.’ But your candidates do want some insight on the role and responsibilities. This is essential information as you want to sell the role to the applicants and show them how they would benefit the company and team.
According to Monster, four times as many people read the introduction than the entire ad to decide whether to apply or not. Use action words such as ‘manage,’ ‘create,’ ‘build’ etc. Always speak to your applicants directly so they can envision themselves doing the job they’re applying for, with words such as ‘you’ and ‘you’re.’
When candidates read a job summary they really want to know what’s in it for them; what work they’ll do and whether they can realistically get the job or not.
Of course, be mindful with your spelling and any grammatical errors. The last thing a candidate wants to see is an ad that hasn’t been thought out or spellchecked. Additionally, make sure it doesn’t look like a big block of text; short bullet points are better at grabbing attention than a boulder of text.
4. Set clear goals
Defining the role with clear goals will tell job applicants what they will need to accomplish to reach and deliver key results.
CEO of performance-based Hiring Learning Systems, Lou Adler, has long advocated performance-based job descriptions over skills-based ones. The idea is to focus on the results you want from the new hire, instead of education or experience.
When listing the primary responsibilities and set tasks, don’t overwhelm your applicants with too much information, try to only list 3-7 items. By adding any more than seven role responsibilities, a reported 69% of candidates would be discouraged from applying.
5. Be specific but realistic
Don’t scare your applicants away with unrealistic and extensive skills and requirements. When you put together your list of skills, be reasonable as your candidates may be put off from applying after seeing an extensive list of required skills.
Be honest with what is absolutely essential, but be specific as well. For example, “must have experience in sales.” How much experience exactly? List job requirements such as education, qualifications and years of experience if these are prerequisites.
If candidates don’t feel they have everything on your list, they will feel discouraged. Consider adding separate lists with your must-haves and nice-to-have. By setting realistic skills and requirements, it will tell your applicants what you’re looking for, essentially saving time during the recruitment process.
6. Location, location, location
Location is key, and candidates will pay close attention to this detail. Interestingly, 50% of employed candidates reported that an opportunity with a good location would most attract them to a job offer, and 57% of candidates said location is more important than salary.
Give detail to the office layout, such as kitchen and break rooms. Mention local food outlets and cafes for their morning coffee. Do you have easy access to public transport, or is there a free on-site car park? Include this information in your job ad as 48% of job seekers find an easy, convenient commute to be the most important aspect when considering a role.
7. Add visuals
With the rise of video content, memes and GIFs, incorporating visual elements is key to attracting and engaging applicants, with 51% of job seekers more attracted to a company that incorporates visual elements to their job postings.
As for the images you should be using, 30% of candidates found that seeing a company’s product or service was most effective, and 22% of applicants found photos of current employees more appealing.
You want to make a good impression the moment job seekers click on your ad, and by adding video this makes a huge difference. According to VideoMyJob, video now accounts for more than 50% of all online traffic and is 1200% more likely to be shared online than text or images.
As one of our integration partners, VideoMyJob enables users to record a video job ad, edit and then share the videos in just minutes. Transforming the way recruiters connect, engage and attract job seekers, its professional videos and content can promote a memorable and insightful interaction between you and the candidate.
Be creative with your visual elements and add video testimonials from employees. Have them talk about the company, it’s culture, why they love to work there and why job seekers should apply for the role. Sell the company and role to the candidate and make them feel like saying, “yes, this is the place for me.”
8. The benefits and money talk
Candidates have bills just like the rest of us, but they prefer to know the salary prior to applying, as this gives them more context around the role’s suitability. Including a salary average will save time for both you and the applicant if they’re looking for something different.
In fact, job ads that include salary receive 30% more applicants. Not all companies are compelled to do this, but adding “please contact me to discuss,” or “salary negotiable,” will motivate your applicants to reach out, especially if they’re really interested in the role.
But the biggest reason why you should list a salary in your job ad is to encourage job seekers who are looking to change jobs. Over 70% of people who quit their jobs say that salary is their primary reason for a change in the workplace. If your salary average is more than their previous role, they may see you as their next employer.
Don’t forget to add benefits such as training programs, bonuses, incentives and mentoring. Offering a good work-life balance is significantly important to candidates with 51% of job seekers attracted to a job because it offered flexible hours. Understanding what motivates your candidates, whether its remote work or flexible hours, will give you an advantage over your competitors.
9. The application process
By spelling out your application process, this in effect represents your company’s culture, so it’s important to get it right. State if the applicant needs to upload their resume, cover letter, a writing sample, fill out a questionnaire or add links to their social platforms. Inform them of the requirements, specifically where they should send their application and the final closing date.
Provide your applicants with a point of contact if they have further questions or inquiries, and finish your job ad with a strong call to action. The ‘apply’ button should be in direct view, preferably on the upper right corner, as it’s the standard place users expect to look.
Mention if the role is for an immediate start. Candidates that are immediately available will jump on roles like this as they could get a job in days in comparison to weeks or months.
Most importantly, ensure you have a system in place that will keep candidates informed of their application. Automated rejection responses are better than no response at all, and can ensure your applicants don’t think of you in a negative light.
10. Get someone to review your ad
You’ve completed your job ad, but don’t go rushing to post it on job boards just yet. Reach out to multiple people in your company to read your job ad and ask for their honest feedback. It helps to have different people read your job ad, as you will receive different responses and an understanding of whether your message is clear and says what you want it to say.
You could even ask someone who has applied for that particular role in the past. This way, you can receive feedback on how this job ad is perhaps interpreted by a person who once applied for this role.
Now that you have the fundamental steps on how to write a job ad, it’s always a good idea to step back and review. Remember to keep your ad simple and concise with a clear message, so don’t go over 700 words. Focus on making this job ad an advert, not a job description, and make sure your job applicants get a response back. With a good job ad, you can attract the top candidates and the best talent. It’s all up to you now.
As the President of HR Consultant firm HRx, Arlene Vernon says: “Apply what makes sense to you. And if your ad doesn’t bring in the candidates you’re seeking, update the ad and see if you get a better response.”