How to write engaging job ads (and why it still matters).

Martin

How to write an engaging job advert (and why it still matters)

Writing job adverts well is the difference between making and placements, and not.

Following a drop in the labour market during the pandemic, employment levels are once again on the increase, and the recruitment industry is becoming more and more competitive.

That’s why your ad needs to stand out from the crowd and our advice on writing job adverts is as relevant now as it always was… and maybe even more so. Here, we highlight what can be improved so you can be sure your future job adverts are attracting the candidates you want.

Why most job adverts don’t work

If this section stings a bit, we’re sorry.

But chances are, you’ve been given bad advice on writing job adverts since the dawn of the internet. This is pretty universal across the sector. Notable exceptions are the students of Mitch Sullivan and anyone with more than a passing interest in copywriting.

If your job has anything to do with recruitment or HR, there’s a chance you’ll write poor job adverts. You’ll then go on to teach others to write poor ads, using that very same playbook. Perhaps you’ve picked up articles online giving you advice on how to write job adverts, which you’d have been better off without.

If you’re a recruitment agency, you’ll probably reformat a job description to remove evidence of company branding. At the same time, you may add sweeteners like “market leading” and “fantastic”, to get those candidates wanting a piece of what you’re selling. For internal recruiters, it’s exactly the same minus the anonymity and perhaps with the addition of a company culture or benefits section.

Both groups know their job adverts don’t work anywhere near as well as they should. Because, while you may place candidates from these efforts, you’ll spend much more time filtering unsuitable ones, which proves you’ve an inefficient formula.  

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Why the wrong candidates are applying to your job advert

It’s easy to moan about ‘Kevin.’ He’s the candidate with no relevant skills in your market but who’s seemingly set up an alert for your company. As a result, Kevin applies for absolutely everything. 

But before playing the blame game, let’s consider how Kevin might have latched on to begin with.

You presented him with a huge list of demands. The same applied to every other candidate who “really wanted a job” that day because you followed the job board’s advice and stuffed in those keywords, to make sure your job advert was as near the top of each search.

That list was so boring and convoluted, you didn’t even read through to the end, so you know Kevin and the other candidates didn’t either. Instead, they optimistically read around your so-called job ad:

“Salary’s good. Location’s good. It says something about ‘project management’ here – remember the time we did the garden? That definitely counts. Yeah, I’m not sure what this job is but I’m going to apply. Because I need a job”.

This is why you need to work smarter to make job advertising more productive. Your aim is to sell your job with your advert. So, it’s time to change your approach.

How to write a great job ad

If IKEA sold their products the way most recruiters advertise jobs, it’d go something like this:

Available now – FANTASTIC POANG armchair. Must have a house, flat or other dwelling to utilise. Must have excellent dexterity to put together from scratch. Must have an Allen key and resourcefulness to know where to put it for successful erection. Must have money to purchase the product. Should be able to travel to a local IKEA. 

You see the problem? For a business as sales orientated as recruitment, it seems we’ve really lost sight of what it means to sell. Instead of doing that (ever again), try the AIDA formula for your job ads:

  • Attention – draw attention with a strong headline which offers an interruption from the mundane scrolling. Or talks directly about something this job or company has to offer that’s special.
  • Interest – build interest by speaking directly to the wants and needs of the candidate. You’ll also use this section to qualify the right candidate (and disqualify the wrong one). The most important part of your job advert? Ensure it’s engaging, so it’ll actually be read.
  • Desire – create desire by making sure you’ve fully covered what’s in it for candidates. Remember to be specific and stick to the facts. Don’t try and cram every single detail of a job description into your advert - that’s not the point of a job ad. Once you’ve shortlisted, you can send full JDs out to follow. Think about your overall EVP (employee value proposition). Your job advert isn’t just about attraction, but retention and reputation management too.
  • Action – make it easy to apply and be encouraging. Remember, you’re trying to attract only the most ideal candidates. You want them to apply to your job advert, so you get the chance to speak to them.

Will your job advert attract the best candidates? (and stop Kevin?)

The reality is this won’t completely stop irrelevant applications. But when you revisit your methodology for writing engaging job ads that people actually read, it becomes less likely that the wrong people apply. 

But more importantly, the right person is much more likely to apply. And sooner. So, you can fill your vacancy and move on to the next. You’ll become more efficient and make more placements - music to any recruiter’s ears, whether agency or internal.  

And if Kevin still applies? Think about candidate experience. Take the time to reject him. You might even give him some useful feedback which encourages him to channel his energy into something more beneficial. 

For him. And for you.

idibu’s helping recruiters attract the best talent, quicker, through market-leading tech that integrates seamlessly with your CRM. Find out more and book a demo today.

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