As specialists in the world of recruitment, we know a thing or two about writing great job adverts. We’ve written them for a variety of industries, and each one has their own related nuances. So you can honestly believe us when we say: we know how to attract brilliant people, for brilliant roles.
Our job is to make people want to press that ‘apply’ button. We need to make candidates feel excited about working for the business in question, doing the responsibilities outlined.
We’re going to walk through how to turn a job description into an effective job advert. Because they aren’t the same thing - Monster tells us that a job description describes the activities of the job, whereas the job advert describes the outcome. Hopefully what you learn on this blog will help you improve your visitor-to-application conversion rate, overnight. Read on to learn some strategies and best practices we use to grip candidates enough to click that button.
Here’s the strategy we like to follow:
- Know your target audience
- Use SEO principles
- Use STRONG verbs to describe the job’s responsibilities
- Craft a GREAT company summary, which you can re-use
- Summarise the benefits package
- Ensure the job requirements are clear and concise
Some general tips: You’ll obviously need to write a job ad that consistently drives applications. But there’s another element - ensuring you attract the right kind of candidates, those qualified candidates who meet the job requirements. You’ll be assessed too - candidates always scan your ad first before they read it. So if they can’t pick out keywords and you’re not using bold, clear language within well structured paragraphs and headings - you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll move on. That bounce rate will be HIGH. Keep your reader engaged, by making your ad easy to read - we know that engagement regularly leads to action and conversion.
Know your target audience
We find that applying for jobs isn't so different from making an important purchase - we rationalise our purchases by emotion and logic. When you write your job advert, you need to bear this in mind - what are your candidates goals? What makes them happy?
You might want to create a persona, with this in mind. What promises do you want your candidate to hear? If you’re hiring a sales rep then ask the sales reps currently within the business what they need to hear from a company before applying for a job.
Create a list of questions which return to you some valuable pieces of information, which in turn can help you craft a corresponding job advert. It’s critical to cover all bases here, so find out what makes your candidate tick, both culturally and professionally.
Use SEO principles
People are always looking for jobs and you can guarantee that they’ll head to some kind of search engine as part of their job search. It makes SEO critical to the advert writing process and to use the keywords that candidates are using.
The first tip here is to ensure you’re using the correct job title to advertise your vacancy. It can be tempting to create some kooky, unique job title which you misguidedly think will make you stand out. Stick to established norms. Avoid “Software Ninja” or “Digital Overlord” - candidates aren’t searching out these terms.
Be mindful of the experience level you're advertising for as different disciplines and different geographies use different terms. If you’re hiring for an entry level marketer then you’ll want to use words like “Executive” (mainly UK), “Assistant” or “Specialist” (mainly US), and for more senior roles it’s “Manager”, “Director” “Head of” (mainly UK) or “VP” and “CMO” (mainly US). How you classify roles is how you attract the best suited candidates - you don’t want to be wasting your time sifting through applications from under or over qualified candidates.
In conclusion, remember to post the position under a title which immediately appeals to your target market as that’s what candidates will be searching for.
Use STRONG verbs to describe the job’s responsibilities
This is where you describe the job, the work your ideal candidate will do. Responsibilities can generate excitement and an eagerness in a passionate candidate, so make the most of your word count.
You’ll want to use strong verbs here, try to be a bit more dynamic than you usually would when listing job responsibilities. You want your candidate to “sculpt” a team, not “manage” them. You want your candidate to “enable success”, not “oversee projects”. The difference is usually one word, but makes a huge difference by offering a more dynamic perspective on the responsibilities.
Synonyms are your friend, there is no shame in using Microsoft Word’s built in thesaurus, just get someone in Marketing to check it over first if you’re a bit unsure. Be careful not to go overboard on the verbs too, don’t cram for the sake of cramming - less is more.
Craft a GREAT company summary, which you can re-use
You need to open your job advert with a “company summary”. Candidates will know if you’ve either pulled it off your company website or if you haven’t changed it since 2007. Put the job into context for the applicant by writing an engaging summary that really sells the business. Avoid the boring stuff like when you were founded, and in which city - any candidate worth their salt already knows this. Plus what value does this bring? They want to know about the role in relation to the business, the environment and working culture.
If you’re recruiting a content marketer, tailor the messaging to provide context. Don’t say “We’re looking for a candidate to help us with content marketing”, say “We’re looking for an amazing wordsmith to help us tell the stories which matter most to our customers”
The key take home is to summarise the business in a way that resonates with your audience, so you might want to create a summary for different disciplines. Don’t forget to revisit your summaries, especially if the landscape has changed.
Summarise the benefits and the benefits package
The penultimate piece of the jigsaw is the benefits package - and yes, you must include this. It needs to be compelling, snappy and tie in with the rest of the job responsibilities.
You’ll want to explain the mark that your candidate will leave - people want to see the impact of their work so try to paint a picture for them. If you’re hiring a software engineer, tell them that the software they’re building will help others beat traffic, or communicate better with loved-ones. The more specificity and context you provide, the more compelling the “apply” button will be.
Once you’ve explained the real world benefit of the role, it’s time to dive deeper into the company’s benefits package - a topic which you just can’t leave out. Do your best to get the candidate to envisage the benefit - i.e. “social activities” is fun but “beer and games on a Friday” is better.
You must include the salary. It’s a great way to attract the right level of candidate, and frankly people have a right to know what they’re going to be paid to do a job. That’s not unreasonable!
Ensure the job requirements are clear and concise
This section will likely be your advert’s most sterile, so you’ll want to end with this one. Stick it after something which highlights promise, opportunity and excitement - like the benefits package.
Refer back to your job description for this one, and be as concise as possible. You want candidates to want to find out more by clicking “apply”, not scare them away with a list as long as your arm. Perhaps keep it to 4 main requirements, centered around level of experience, education, skills and characteristics.
Keep your list of requirements only as long as it needs to be. Rely on your knowledge as a person who hires and remember to always write in a way that reflects the culture and company’s specific needs.
Of course, there is another option: a fixed-fee recruiter will do all of this work as part of a managed service. If you come on board with a fixed-fee recruiter you’ll receive a killer job ad, a posting to all the best job boards and the services of a Campaign Manager - to help you sift through the mountain of applications you’re likely to receive from the publicity.