How to write effective job ads (and attract the right candidates)

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Three business people sit at a desk and shake hands, attracting the right candidates.

In today’s market, it can be a tough gig convincing the most talented candidates to choose you over a competitor. While the power of your brand plays an important role, for the vast majority of employers, it’s the job ad that truly attracts applications from prospective candidates.

But how many of us actually get it right? You only have to look at a handful of job adverts online to see there are as many good ones as there are bad. Here are our top nine tips on how to attract the best talent through a fantastic job ad.

How to write an employment ad

1. Spelling and grammar

Correct spelling and grammar is, without a doubt, one of the most important elements of any job ad. Just as you would shake your head upon seeing a typo in a resume, so will a candidate looking for a professional company with which to work. After all, if you can’t get the basics right, what confidence does this give the candidate? Therefore, it’s essential you write it, check it and then ask someone else to check it. Before you publish, check it one final time.

2. Tone of voice

The tone of voice in which you write your job ad will give prospective candidates some insight into the personality of your business and your company culture. Are you a corporate professional services firm looking for polished professional candidates? Make sure you reflect this in your language. Conversely, an advertising and media agency with a more laid-back approach might use informal language to give a more accurate impression of what it might be like to work there.

3. Avoid complex and lengthy headlines

The job headline should be the job title. After all, that’s what people will be looking for! If the job title doesn’t clearly describe the role, or requires further explanation, then use a strapline to do so. As an aside, if you realize you’re writing an ad for a job with an obscure job title that in no way conveys what the role’s purpose is, then consider changing the job title altogether.

If your business is well-known with a good reputation among your targeted candidates, then display the organization or brand name prominently, either as a strapline or contained in the main heading alongside the job title, as well as incorporated in the body of the advert.

4. Keep it simple and clear 

A powerful advert is succinct and to the point. With four in five job seekers using their phones to apply for jobs[1], it’s essential that you keep things short and sharp, making it very easy for candidates to review what the role is, who the successful candidate looks like, and why they should apply.

Therefore, keep sentences and paragraphs short and use bullet points to list key responsibilities or ideal requirements. After writing your first draft, find the commas and ‘and’s, and replace with full-stops.

It’s also worth avoiding jargon, elaborate design or multiple font styles.

Tiger Job ads 1

5. Be excited

Do you want your candidates to be excited and enthusiastic about your unique opportunity? Ensure this is reflected in the writing of your advert. Take the following two extracts as an example:

a) The role has direct responsibility for all core operational departments, including sales, account management and administrative operations. Candidates will have P&L management experience and should be confident managing senior staff, each of which manage offices and teams.

b) Fully accountable for the operations and finances, we’ll look to you to maximize revenue opportunities, control costs and guarantee safe and healthy surroundings. We want our staff to love coming to work every day, and your role will make sure this is brought to life, through your fantastic interpersonal abilities.

While seemingly similar requirements are highlighted, which of the two would you rather apply for? If you’re needing some inspiration, check out 10 of the most creative job ads.

6. Why you?

Not sure what to include in a job advert? All too often, we see ads that list a whole host of responsibilities and ideal requirements, with absolutely no incentive for the candidate to apply. In this candidate-led market, it’s essential that you demonstrate why a candidate should leave their current position to come work for you. If you can’t sell the pros, one could assume there are none and therefore you don’t really care about your staff.

If you want motivated and ambitious candidates looking to make an investment in you, you should be prepared to do the same and give them some really good reasons as to why you are unique. Beware, however, if your advert is littered with ‘too-good-to-be-true’ empty promises. You may come across as less than credible and walk away with a damaged reputation.

7. What do they want to know?

The structure and content of an advert can of course vary from one business to the next, and from one sector to the other. Generally, you should always include the following pieces of information:

• Overview of the position

• Location

• What differentiates this role from another in the same sector?

• What makes your company so great to work for?

• What experience, skills and qualifications are required?

• How to apply/call to action

This last point would seem a bit of a no-brainer, but a simple instruction of what to do/what not to do is often missed, and obviously, quite important if you want them to get in touch!

8. Which job boards will your candidates be using?

There are a number of general job boards that the majority of job seekers use but there are also many industry-specific ones (for example, within the creative industry), that you may want to consider advertising with. Similarly, your target candidates may not even be looking online, in which case you’ll need to think about the publications they will be most likely to read and when.

9. Let them know what to expect next

Before you post your advert, think about how every applicant will receive a response. It doesn’t have to be personal – though of course that’s always best. An auto-responder that thanks them for applying and says you will get back to them by a certain date if you’re interested in hearing more, is a whole lot better than no response at all.

Keeping prospective candidates engaged in the hiring process will also result in a positive process and increase your chances of winning them over.

Why is this important? Other than basic good manners, you just never know where they might pop up in the future.

If you’re looking for more guidance on writing a good job ad, our guide can help.

Are you looking to hire administrative staff? Tiger’s consultants are experts in helping you find outstanding candidates for each role. Get in touch today to see how they can help.

Author Amy Laiker Tiger Recruitment Team

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