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Writing A Good Job Advert – The Dos and Don’ts

Employers commonly say that basic errors such as spelling mistakes in a CV means they bin job applications out of hand. But what mistakes are you making as an employer that cause candidates to ignore your job ad?

Good ads generate good candidates, so could yours be better? Here’s a few do’s and don’ts for writing job ads that work.

Think first

What goals do you want your ad to achieve? Are you hoping for hoards of applications or just a few from tightly-targeted candidates? Lack of careful forethought leads to wasted time later. Some businesses tell us they are overwhelmed by volume of responses and have to deal with candidates who are not interested in the job, or who haven’t read the full job description.

To avoid this, your ad needs to be specific, so unsuitable candidates rule themselves out, saving you the work.

Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. If you were applying for this vacancy, what would you want to know? If you were searching for this job, what keywords would you use? Adzuna’s technology aims to match people and jobs based on what they search for, so the right keywords are important.

Job Title

DO: ‘Actuary’, or ‘carpenter’ are self -evident, but if your organisation uses its own in-house term for the role, you could do well to use the standard industry term instead – this will be the most common search term used by candidates.

DON’T: Rely on buzz words that may not describe the role. Use buzz words such as ‘ninja’, and ‘guru’ can help you stand out and can look good for your employer brand, but people may not even see the roles if the job description doesn’t explain the job role in generic terms.

Location

If you lived in Cardiff, would you apply for a job in Glasgow? Even if you were willing to relocate, you would want to know the job location.

Nevertheless, of Adzuna’s 1 million+ vacancies displayed in  April 2018, a total of 103,854 – 9.4% – didn’t cite a location more specific than ‘UK’. You might assume this increases your vacancy’s chances of appearing in searches but it’s not so: a job located in, say, Fulham, appears in searches for vacancies in Fulham, but also South West London, London and the UK.

Some search tools even allow you to search within a certain radius, so you can be seen by people looking to travel a little further.

Job type and hours

Is the job permanent, temporary, or contract, and are the hours part- or full-time? Make sure it’s clear.

Job description

DO: include the essential tasks, qualifications and experience required or desirable. If you offer training or development say so: this is a major factor in attracting candidates.

DO: Tailor your advertisement to attract the right people.  Looking for someone who loves number-crunching, a superstar salesperson, or a creative wordsmith? Tailor your job ad to suit each. One-size-fits-all job ads appeal to candidates no more than one-size-fits-all CVs appeal to hiring managers.

Sell your job based on what candidates are seeking. If you are looking for newly qualified staff, focus on learning and development opportunities. For senior staff, emphasise the opportunity to use their leadership and management skills.

Salary

DO:  Specify the salary. Not giving a salary makes it harder for candidates to decide whether to apply. Most people do not choose jobs just for the money – but they do need to know if they can live on the salary. Stating the salary, even if only as a range such as £20-£25,000, means some candidates will rule themselves out immediately, saving you time in recruitment.

Not sure what it should be? Check our Salary Stats Center. It will show the average salary for the role in your local area, based on an analysis of similar jobs across the UK.

DON’T: State the salary as ‘negotiable’ unless there is no alternative.  Many people hate the idea of negotiating salaries.

A low salary need not deter candidates. Jobs with salaries below £25,000 generally get a higher click-through rate (CTR) than jobs between £25,000-£65,000. However, if it is much lower than similar local jobs, to compete you might offer something else, such as valuable benefits.

DO: Mention employee benefits. Many people prioritise flexible hours, parental leave, and the ability to work from home as much or more than salary.

DO: Use language that does not deter women – especially if you want to address gender imbalance issues.  Software from Textio, which analyses job postings, found that ads seeking people to ‘manage’ teams typically appealed more to men, while asking for someone to ‘develop’ a team tended to attract a higher proportion of women. Asking for someone to ‘lead’ a team attracts a mix of both.

DO: Mention the workplace culture. Is the office sociable? Is there lots of flexibility or autonomy? Being upfront helps avoid a mismatch later.

DON’T: Start your ad with a long description of your company. Leave it until after the description of the vacancy, then, keep it short, or limit it to a weblink. Reading through lots of info before they get to the job details may tempt a candidate to select another vacancy.

FINALLY: Remember, a good job ad should contain all the information that a candidate would want. It can be hard to do this from inside a company, but it’s easier if you put yourself in the candidate’s shoes.

Feeling confident to write your own job ad now? You can post ads for free on our site here.