How to Write Better Job Ads
A job ad and a job description are not synonymous terms. In the world of recruitment, job descriptions tell the story, but job ads are your sales pitch.
In a job market filled with various companies hiring for very similar roles (think product managers and IT developers), crafting compelling and accurate job ads ensures you are “selling” your company well to both active and passive candidates. Nailing your job ads can increase application rates, improve the quality of your applicants, and represent your employer brand in a meaningful way early on in the recruitment process.
A job ad is an advertisement, so don’t be afraid to have fun, make it interesting and eye-catching, and include just the right amount of information to reel your candidates in and keep them wanting to know more!
Before you roll up your sleeves and get to designing your next job ad, here are some things to keep in mind.
Get Your Job Description Right
Before you can even think about advertising a role, you need to agree on the scope of the role and translate that scope into a job description. A job description is where we put all the important details about the job. It is an internal document between you and the hiring team, and it includes everything about the role, what they will be doing, details about your company and how you work, and all the little specifics about what, where, who, why, and how. Set up a meeting with the hiring team and get the utmost clarity on these very minute details.
When you leave the meeting it’s critical that you have gathered information about education requirements, compensation (bonuses, stock options, incentives), relocation, travel days, absolute must-haves, nice-to-haves, deal breakers, location of candidates, and language requirements.
Know Your Target Audience
Your job ad is not for everyone. You are likely targeting a particular sect of talented people.
Before you start writing, comb through job adverts with similar titles (irrespective of seniority) to get an understanding of the market standards. Remember to stay up to date on your competitors’ websites, job sites, and LinkedIn.
Let’s take the following example - you are hiring an Engineering Manager to join your IT team in Norway. Your target audience is senior IT professionals who are based in Norway. As a lot of the team members are Norwegian and your company works with Norwegian and UK clients, one of the requirements is that this person speaks fluent Norwegian and English. So, it is very likely that you will have to advertise in both these languages to get maximum reach. This would also mean that the job titles in both these languages could be different.
In addition to this, use and employ job boards and platforms that are popular in the country you are hiring in, like https://www.finn.no/job/browse.html in addition to your website, LinkedIn, and other job sites like Indeed. com as your Norwegian candidates are likely to search on more sites as well.
Put Your Employer Brand on Display
The number of articles highlighting the importance of employer branding is found all over the internet (and a few on our blog)! But to briefly touch on this point here, your job adverts must reflect your brand through and through. Not only should your ad communicate what makes you unique as an employer, but it should also include smaller, but important details like using your company’s tone and voice, photography style, and fonts.
For example, does your marketing team use certain emojis (or sometimes no emojis) and words on the website or social media? Be sure to use only them in your job ad! You will likely be given a Marketing and design guide to help you figure this all out, so reach out to your Marketing counterparts to get this information. If your ATS allows it, it’s also a good idea to showcase articles written by your employees at the bottom of the job ad. This gives a more candid look into life at your company, and adds credibility to your claims in the job ad!
Lastly, remember that just like your job ad isn’t for everyone, your company isn’t for everyone either. Don’t be afraid to use your unique tone of voice, showcase what’s great about your company, and also be honest about what you can and can’t provide. Being transparent about the good and the bad upfront will narrow your candidate pool even more so that you bring motivated talent into the process.
Showcase What You Offer
This is where you can differentiate yourself from your competitors. This section highlights the key benefits of working in your organization and what are some things that set you apart in the hiring market.
This could include perks like a lunch budget, international colleagues, learning budgets, relocation assistance, stock and incentives, your sustainability initiatives, company/team goals, yearly meet-ups, health allowances (gyms, subscription services, on-site medical checkups), insurance, vehicle and transportation reimbursements, home-office budgets, equipment you can provide and much much more! Remember to not embellish this section but to be honest about who you are as an employer.
Post-pandemic, LinkedIn conducted an experiment where job seekers were prompted to identify the essential sections of a job post that would increase their likelihood of applying. Notably, the benefits section emerged as the top-ranked section, alongside salary information.
Keep it Clear and Concise
Once you have your job description down, your target audience is defined, and you've decided how weave your employer brand into your ad, it's time to put pen to paper! Here are our top tips when it comes to getting your copy right.
- Use welcoming, down-to-earth wording. Nobody wants to feel like they’re reading text written by ChatGPT. They want to feel like they’re reading text written by someone who works at the company, and in a tone of voice that can give them a glimpse into the sentiment of the company.
- Avoid flowery language, puns, jargon, and also cliched words and phrases such as “family”, “high-performance culture”, “wizard/ninja/rockstar” etc.
- List specific role requirements, but don’t die by them. The perfect candidate for the role might be deterred from applying if they feel like they need to fit into a rigid box to get an interview. Include Minimum requirements, Job location, Working model(hybrid, remote), and benefits /compensation, along with all relevant links. A significant 74% of individuals express frustration when encountering job advertisements that contain inaccurate information.
- Use industry-given titles so that you will appear in searches more often to your active candidates. A ‘People and Culture leader’ is a more common job title than a ‘Happiness Officer’. If your company addresses the title as Happiness Officer, that is fine but using this particular job title might not give you significant hits. You could try a title such as ‘Happiness Officer- People and Culture leader’ to ensure your job ad gets more traction. Indeed's 2020 survey revealed that 36% of job seekers utilizing job websites prefer searching for employment opportunities by directly entering the job title they are seeking.
Take a look at a sample job ad here for more inspiration.
Here are some nice-to-have components of your job ad that could highlight to your passive candidates that you are an organization they want to work for.
- Growth path - What the future of the role is like? Where can they see themselves growing in 2 years? 5 years? Nobody wants to leave a good thing for something unknown.
- Salary range - Many countries have begun making this feature a requirement so make sure to check your legislation. Be realistic and propose a range that is acceptable as this reflects a lot on the team instead of quoting absurd sums such as $10,000- $90,000 per annum. Candidates are significantly more inclined to apply for a position, with the likelihood increasing up to 13 times when salary information is incorporated into the job posting.
- Application process- How many steps does your application process involve? How long can candidates be expected to spend on your interview process? Are there any tests/take-home assignments?
- Deadline and how and when you will be getting back to your candidates.
Before you hit publish, don't forget to proofread, focus on distribution, and track performance to ensure your job ad performs to its utmost best. Below you'll find a little more on each of those points.
Once you are happy with how your ad is looking, it is wise to ask another member of your team to proofread it or use some great innovations and tools that are available in the market. Proofreading is great for grammar and structure, but also as a bias check. Unknown to you, you could be using masculine or even feminine words and subtexts that could discourage certain groups of people from applying for the job.
Research has found that the words used in job postings can affect people's biases, impacting who decides to apply for the job. So utilise this step to ensure that you are using inclusive terminology and are not deterring people from working in your team.
Like and Share
To get the maximum reach, encourage your hiring team to like and share the ad with their network. This could involve sharing the link to the job (on the company website or other job boards) through Slack channels, LinkedIn, and Facebook communities. You can also choose to share the job ad with your organization first before publicizing it externally to get some internal referrals and recommendations.
Track your Metrics
Has your job ad received traction from promotion and inbound applicants? Are the applicants coming in relevant and in tune with your job description? Have you attracted the right candidates for the job?
Periodically check on your metrics through SEO, LinkedIn stats, applicant numbers, relevant applicant numbers, etc to see how your market is responding. If you are unhappy with your responses, talk to your hiring team and tweak the ad for a better response. This could involve strategies like making requirements stricter or more lenient, opening up the ad to more places/markets, mentioning the salary, and sometimes even choosing various alternate platforms.
To wrap up, writing effective job ads is not merely about listing qualifications and responsibilities; it's a dynamic process that demands creativity, innovation, and revision. As we move forward in the competitive world of talent acquisition, embrace these techniques to not only inform but captivate your candidates, turning potential hires into new hires.
Embarking on a unique journey encompassing marketing and recruitment, Manu has a fascination for all things Employer Branding, Recruitment and HR Operations.LinkedIn