Think you’re simply hiring a new team member?

Think again.

That advert will be putting your company out there, in the public eye. Every serious job seeker will be evaluating your firm and mentally banking their impressions.

Today’s playing field is candidate-driven. With employment at an all time high, there’s a tremendous shortage of top talent. It’s time recruiters embraced a marketing mindset.

A marketer attracts and retains clients. The recruiter attracts and keeps stellar talent. Their goals are strikingly similar but the marketing mentality puts the focus on the candidate. What makes job seekers tick? What do they want?

Your job ad is a key marketing tool, the very first impression you’re giving candidates about the role and your firm. It’s a big piece of advertising and while unsuccessful listings can be due to other factors, a poorly written job advert is often the culprit.

Want to write a blockbuster ad?  Avoid these 15 classic mistakes and get top talent beating a path to your door.

1. Your advert is too long

It’s a job advert not a job specification. No candidate has time to read War and Peace.

The sweet spot is 700 words or less – a page and a half, font size 11 – unless you’re advertising for a senior role requiring complex skills. In that case, around 2000 words for positions that require more detail.

Make it mind-numbingly long and candidates will switch off.

Keep it short, keep it punchy so that candidates get a taster of the role and your company. A compelling advert gets top talent excited and keen to apply for the job.

2.  Posting on only one or two job boards

Are you posting to just one job board when you advertise?

If so, you’re not alone. It’s what most companies do when job advertising. But posting to only one or two boards seriously limits your reach, and the majority of candidates will never see your ad.

No matter how popular the job board, such low exposure puts your ad in front of a maximum of 25-30% of job seekers. Posting to all the main job boards will greatly increase your reach – up to 85% of the market – although it can be costly.

The solution? Using a multiposter, like Jobheron, is remarkably cost-effective.

3.  Not listing salary

Describing wages as a ‘competitive basic’ or ‘negotiable salary’ is out! Maybe you see it as a smart move to attract a greater range of talent. But according to Jobsite, adverts without a salary have a 25-35% drop in applications.

If you don’t want to commit to a given wage, listing a salary range – no matter how wide – will still attract more candidates than not listing one at all. A salary range gives you some wiggle room later on.

Being upfront on the salary from the start saves you both some time. There are no nasty surprises when the candidate finds out it isn’t what he or she was expecting.

4. You insisted on a cover letter

“Can we ask candidates to write a cover letter?” We often hear this from our clients.

Some companies still believe that requesting a cover letter filters out unserious and lazy applicants. This may be true to a small extent, but it also filters out the best talent.

In the current landscape, companies are competing to swoop up the same candidates. Household names like Coca Cola, Nike, or Microsoft can take the risk. But chances are your lengthy application process will chase top talent away.

Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. Given the choice, would you choose writing cover letters over a single-click apply for an identical job? We think it’s a no-brainer.

Instead, save the screening questions for a short phone interview during the second stage.

5. Lengthy application process

Are your candidates required to fill out long forms with multiple questions, most of which are already answered on their CVs? This time-wasting practice is a daunting barrier for applicants.

Redirecting candidates to fill the application form in your ATS usually means re-entering work history and education – information already available in their resume. Job seekers are then often asked to create an account to access the company’s careers page.

Officevibe reports 60% of job-seekers stopped filling out a job application because the process was too long.

Businesses that cut the application time to five minutes or less, using special platforms, have seen a 365% spike in application rates (Appcast). This comes as no surprise when 86% of job seekers now use their smartphones to apply for jobs (Kelton).

6. Your job title is obscure

I know, I know, it’s tempting to be creative.

How often do you see companies advertise a role with the job title “Superstar”, “Wizard, “Guru”, “Rockstar” or “Ninja”? More than you should.

Using an unconventional job title might make you appear trendy but for all the wrong reasons. Job seekers search for standard job titles and will not find your vacancy if the title is not in common use.

Too vague or misleading, i.e. “Brand Architect” will bring in irrelevant candidates. Too long, i.e. “Waste Management and Disposal Technician” will turn candidates away.

Stick to job titles that are widely recognised. You’ll get more traction from the generic “Marketing Executive” than “Marketing Wizard”. Leave creativity for the body of the advert.

7. Your requirements are unrealistic

A job advert is not the place to tell the world about your perfect candidate, it’s the place to screen out those who are unqualified for the job.

Find the lowest acceptable threshold for your ‘must-have’ skills. If you prefer someone with 4+ years of experience but would consider someone with 2 years’, you should state “2+ years of experience required”.

If there is some leeway on any of your requirements, place them under the ‘nice-to-haves’ section. We all want that perfect candidate but asking for unrealistic requirements will cause you to lose out on some potentially great people.

Remember skills can be taught, raw talent and ability to learn cannot.

8. Not selling your company culture

Take a look back at your advert…

… have you conveyed your company culture?

How does your firm look to job seekers? The candidate’s view of your organisation is one of the most important factors for employers today.

If one third of a person’s life is spent at work, what makes yours the most fulfilling? How will the candidate ‘feel’ working at your company?

Paint a picture of your work environment. Is your company:

  • A friendly and sociable team?
  • A face-paced environment?
  • An industry leader?

Your product and services are important but cultural fit is the key to success. Higher levels of satisfaction and engagement equal 12% more productivity (Single Grain) and greater profit.

Vlogs of a company’s ‘behind-the-scenes’ rack up thousands of views because people love to understand the culture behind the business.

9. Not listing your benefits

If your salary is below the market rate or less than another company is offering, don’t worry. Your benefits could be the deal breaker. Glassdoor discovered that nearly four in five (79%) of employees would prefer new or additional benefits to a pay increase.

Think carefully about what would appeal to your candidate’s needs and lure them in with perks that make your company a fun place to work. Benefits might include:

  • Corporate discounts
  • Private healthcare
  • Flexible working
  • Free parking
  • Career progression
  • Autonomy
  • Working with talented people
  • Ability to provide valuable contributions
  • Opportunities for overseas travel

Avoid exaggerated phrases such as “the opportunity of a lifetime” or “unbeatable salary” unless this is what you can offer.

10.  Your advert sounds negative

You’d be surprised how many job adverts are riddled with negativity. Phrases like:

  • “If you do not possess…”
  • “… need not apply”
  • “We will not consider…”
  • “Only apply if…”

It’s enough to even keep the qualified candidates away.

Transform this condescending tone into an optimistic and upbeat one. Encouraging, friendly words – “If this sounds like you, we would love to hear from you!” or “We welcome all” will attract candidates rather than repel them.

11. Don’t write in 3rd person

You want the candidate to visualise themselves as your employee. Instead of using “The successful candidate will…” make it more inclusive and personal with “In this role, you will…”

12. Cheesy buzzwords

Organisations use insider acronyms or buzzwords that no one from the outside understands. Statistically, this has a terrible impact on application numbers. A recent survey showed that jargon in the advert put off 60% of job seekers from applying (Monster).

13. No formatting

This should be obvious. Huge blocks of text, long lists and running sentences make your advert difficult to read and are sure to put candidates off. They might even skip reading it altogether.

After writing your advert, check that you have used formatting –  i.e. subheadings, short paragraphs, bullet points – and bold and italicise any important points clearly.

14. No call-to-action

Every successful advert finishes off with a strong call-to-action.

Before the candidate becomes distracted by another job advertisement, remind them to apply. Spell out exactly how at the bottom of your advert. Do they click on the ‘Apply Button’ or email you their CV and portfolio? Let them know the next step in the process.

15. Drawn-out hiring process

Last but not least, does your hiring process really need three to four interviews?  Telephone interviews and one or two face-to-face meetings can be a lot more effective. The longer the process, the more time your ideal candidate will have to get offered another role.