We won't sugar coat it. Hiring nowadays can be tough. The job market can be fickle and there are often many hiring struggles to overcome. Some challenges, such as a competitive job market, are out of your control. But a poor job advert that doesn’t attract the right candidates isn’t.
So, to help you, we've compiled a step-by-step guide on how to write the perfect job ad every time!
Why are job ads so crucial?
When it comes to talent acquisition, finding the ideal candidate can often feel a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack. In fact, a recent study revealed that over 76% of hiring managers believe attracting the right candidates is the most difficult part of the recruiting process. But how does a company draw in the best talent available? You need to make a good first impression.
Just as you would disqualify a candidate for a terribly written resume, most quality candidates are not going to apply to a haphazardly thrown together job ad. That’s not to say a vague or inaccurate job ad you won’t get any applicants, but the potential applicants you will get may not be of the calibre you’re expecting. Plus, you'll wind up spending hours and countless resources scouring over resumes and applications from individuals who, in the end, are not suitable for the job.
But, if you use a great job ad? Well, you'll attract great candidates.
9 steps to writing the perfect job ad!
Pick a suitable job title
This seems like an obvious piece of advice, we know. But you'd be surprised just how many trip on this first hurdle. Candidates filter through hundreds of potential roles when they are job hunting, often using the job title you provide to decide which ones are worth clicking on to investigate further.
To optimise your job posting's chances of being picked up by the right applicants, use a relevant and generic job title. We know that businesses often use unique titles to refer to certain roles on an internal level, such as ‘Head of Digital and Data Marketing’ But it's unlikely a candidate will search for this job title and therefore your ad will likely not appear in their search results on the job boards. Using this example, ‘Head of Digital Marketing’ would be a much better title and is definitely going to show up for those looking for such a role. Additionally, it’s worth noting that roughly 7 out of 10 candidates start their job search on Google, so using commonly searched job titles is essential for appearing in a candidate's search results both on job boards and on most major search engines.
Additionally, what title you pick can also act as a type of screening process to ensure you're not bombarded by applications from unsuitable candidates, particularly if the role is subject to an individual's level of experience. For instance, 'Senior Copywriter' refers to a role which requires several years of industry experience, whilst 'Junior Data Analyst' would most likely suggest the role is entry-level. This kind of language is also attractive to applicants with long-term career goals, as it implies that there is clear progression within your company.
Write an ad, not a job spec
A job advert is designed to do exactly what it says on the tin; advertise. This advertising is a vital part of the recruiting process as you need to literally sell your business and the role to potential applicants. Despite this, time and time again we see hiring managers simply copy and paste a job specification onto a job board and expect instant, effective results to no avail.
The problem with this is that these are two different documents that serve completely different purposes. An ad is a sales tool that should promote the role to entice potential applicants. On the other hand, a job spec is a detailed piece of text that informs an employee of their full responsibilities. Using a job spec as an advert will mean that it will include less exciting details that don’t really sell the role well, such as ‘producing ad hoc reports’ or ‘attending a monthly performance meeting’. Additionally, job specs often contain jargon and industry buzzwords that would not make sense to many candidates who haven’t entered the company yet, and are likely to scare them off from applying.
Instead, you should condense down the most crucial details of the role and write them in a more intriguing and inviting tone of voice. For instance, replace phrases such as ‘the employee’ to ‘you’. Of course, you can definitely use aspects of the job specification in the job ad, but it’s worth playing around with the wording and filtering out the unnecessary details. Keeping the content of the ad relevant, understandable, and engaging will give you a better competitive advantage and will help you draw in the right candidates.
Keep it short
The key to a successful job ad is being able to captivate the potential applicant, maintain this engagement, and then convince them to apply. The longer your advert is, the more opportunities you’re giving the candidate to get bored and click away. And that’s the last thing you want.
When it comes to optimum ad length, studies suggest that less is definitely more, with some of the most successful posts being those which have not exceeded 300 words. Of course, it can be quite tricky to shove all the necessary information into such a short word count, but that's where good formatting helps.
List the role duties, the requirements, and whatever else you need to include in neat bullet points. When job-hunting, candidates are looking for the specific details to determine if they should apply, such as the location of the job, the salary, or whether they even fit the requirements. But if they can't easily find this information, they will click away. So, make sure each section is well spaced out and all your subheadings are emboldened. This way your ad will be easier to read for potential applicants frantically skimming the page.
Don't hide the salary
We don’t want to imply that money is everything, but when it comes to the job ad, it’s certainly in the top most important things. That’s because most of your potential candidates aren't spending very long reading through every single little detail in your job description, they are heading straight for the cash. In fact, an overwhelming 61% of candidates admit that they skip the majority of the details in a job advert, immediately jumping to the sections outlining the salary and compensatory benefits.
You can't blame them. There's nothing worse than getting all excited about a role and then finding out the salary is way off what you're looking for. So to avoid wasting their time (and yours!), make sure you clearly state the salary in your posting. One way to do this is by listing it at the very top of your advert, above all the details. Not only will this act as a screening process so you don’t have to wade through hundreds of applicants with wildly different salary expectations, but it will also increase the success rate of your ad. It’s been noted that job adverts that include the salary attract roughly 30% more applicants than those that don’t. So save your time whilst optimising your chances of finding the ideal candidate by being honest about what salary you can offer from the start.
That said, we understand that some businesses do opt to hide salary for one reason or another. But we would still always recommend it, as the benefits often outweigh the drawbacks.
Specify if your role is remote
Since the start of the pandemic, remote working or flexi working have become common practice in many corporations. For most candidates, where a role is based or whether it offers remote working can be a deciding factor in whether or not to apply. So missing out this vital information can result in a lot of unviable applications and countless hours of wasted time on your end.
If you do offer remote working, make the terms of this very clear in your advert by including the phrase ‘Remote (work from home)’. Despite most job boards requiring a specific location when you input your advert, this phrase will ensure that it is seen by those candidates looking for remote roles even outside of your company’s office location.
However, whatever your business is doing in terms of working situation, honesty is always the best policy. State clearly if you expect a potential hire to be a full time office worker or if you’d be willing to allow partial remote working. This kind of transparency will help draw in genuinely interested candidates who are willing to meet your expectations and requirements.
Most employers have high expectations for who they want joining their team, but even the best candidates might not meet all of your desired requirements. So, whilst you might be tempted to list the hundreds of attributes and qualifications you want your ideal employee to have, try to be realistic.
Consider which skills are essential and which can be learnt on the job. Or what work experience is genuinely needed and which is just an added bonus. This kind of realistic thinking can expand your talent pool and also help make your hiring process more inclusive. And not just because you're potentially scaring off talent who may not have had access to various CV-strengthening opportunities. Reports have shown that women are much less likely to apply for a role unless they feel they meet 100% of the requirements.
Being a bit stingy about your requirements might feel counterintuitive but, in reality, you're never going to find the perfect candidate who ticks all of your boxes. So, go for the next best thing and find one with the potential to make up for any gaps in knowledge or skill set with enthusiasm and passion.
Don't ask for a cover letter
Did you know that only 18% of hiring managers think that cover letters are important? Most employers don't even read them, they are simply there as a back up if they wish to know more about an applicant's experience. In the age of modern hiring and AI recruiting software, cover letters seem almost obsolete. So why bother?
It’s time to stop expecting candidates to undertake this lengthy task in order to apply to your company. With ‘Easy Apply’ and ‘1-click Apply’ features on most job boards, requiring a cover letter will only ever put your business at a competitive disadvantage. Of course, there are countless cover letter templates online for candidates to utilise which can make this task easier. But, each business is different and it's unfair to expect a candidate to produce a written piece of work for every single role they apply to. For all you know, candidates may be applying to multiple roles very similar to yours. If yours is the only ad asking for a cover letter, the candidate might decide to give your role the chop.
However, if the role you're advertising is a writing or design based role, it's understandable that you'd want to see work examples. Ask the candidate to send you previous examples of their work or even offer them the chance to complete a (paid!) task. This is a far more useful way to find out whether their creative style is what you're looking for than a generic cover letter.
Highlight the benefits
As we've previously mentioned, candidates don't mess about when it comes to the job descriptions. Most job seekers will go straight to the salary and other perks within the job advertisement to figure out if the role is really worth applying to or not. This isn't superficial or materialistic; it's actually quite logical.
Every job - even the ones we love - come with their fair share or difficult days or boring tasks. That's why it's worth knowing what else a job can offer you outside of the role itself. So whether you offer access to state-of-the-art training webinars or discounted gym memberships, showcase what you've got to offer. Highlighting the various bonuses will get qualified candidates excited about a job opportunity with your business, making them more likely to apply.
Plus, alongside attracting top candidates, having great business perks is also key for winning over your current employees. Around 80% of workers stated that they'd happily pass on a pay rise for better benefits at work, such as flexible working or private healthcare. Considering that workers nowadays dedicate more and more time to their role, anything that can improve employee satisfaction is worth investing in.
Let your ad reflect your company culture
The values of a company, the business benefits, the working set-up, and office dynamics between leaders and employees can all reflect what kind of culture a workplace has. And, whilst this might seem secondary to all the other parts of a job, company culture is actually a deal-breaker for many candidates. A recent study reported that nearly half of all job seekers listed company culture to be a deciding factor in whether or not to accept a role. Clearly, showing off your business’ unique culture has never been more important.
Alongside listing company perks and any added bonuses your business offers, you can convey that you have a healthy and positive workplace culture by the tone of voice you use in your ad. Don't use aggressive words, such as 'dominate' or 'crush' to describe the role, as these can indicate a highly-competitive, demanding working environment. Focus on how you work collaboratively to reach goals to convey that your business is a supportive place to work.
That said, be sure not to get too pally with potential candidates in your job ad. Studies have shown that candidates are almost 4x less likely to apply to roles with adverts that are overly formal or casual in tone. Instead, maintain a professional yet positive tone of voice to help make your company a candidate's first choice.
There we have it, our guide to writing the perfect job ad. It can't be stressed enough just how vital it is to have a well-structured, engaging ad to target and attract the best candidates available. Remember, recruitment is a conversation between your company and an applicant, and your job posting is the first point of communication in this process. So, you better make it count.
For more help and tips, download our free Guide to Writing a Cracking Job Ad here.