How to get job advertising right

If your job advert is relevant, jobseekers with the right skills and the right need will be bound to apply, right?

Well, not necessarily.

There’s a reason it’s called a job advert!

The way a job advert is written and structured can have a significant impact on the number of applications. And more importantly, it can have an impact on the quality of the applicants.

The strongest candidates are often already employed. Too often, job adverts are simply a list of what an employer wants from a candidate. But why would that appeal to someone who has the luxury to choose which job they apply for? And let’s face it – that’s probably the person you want!

Your job advert must persuade an individual to leave their job for yours. It needs to present an argument about why your vacancy is worth investigating.

Here’s how to sell your role to candidates.

Don’t just talk about career progression – show it! 

If a role has become available because the former incumbent was promoted, this is a subtle selling point, making it clear that the role has a progression pathway. Similarly, if the role is new, use this fact to highlight growth within the business.

We’re not only talking about appealing to millennials in this blog, but in a Gallup poll last year, 87% of polled millennials rated “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as important to them in a job, compared to 69% of non-millennials (which comprises several generations).


Personal development sells

Largely due to the shift in employee priorities mentioned above, many employers are becoming more broad-minded about how they attract new staff, and focus more on quality of life and investment into their employees’ futures than on “traditional” benefits. Indeed, research has shown that the former now outweighs the latter on candidate wish-lists. So if you fund, provide time off for, or otherwise support personal or career development (conferences, seminars, further education etc.) – shout about it!

The power of brand contribution to a cause/field of expertise

Another big selling point for many candidates today is the idea of being able to make a difference – whether that’s to a sphere of expertise or to a cause. By highlighting your company’s reputation for being a leading light in its field or as a contributor to a worthwhile social or cultural cause, you’re enhancing the pulling power of your brand.

Opportunities to progress by specialising

Many companies are structured in such a way that the only available reward for consistently high achievers is promotion to a management position. But not everyone wants the burden of managing others! If you have limited management opportunities but other ways of rewarding high performers, you can easily make a virtue of this by talking about opportunities to specialise, gain more expertise and earn more. For many specialists this will be a lure.

Status: loved by some…

If a role sits on a Board or committee or has a direct line to the CEO, it’s worth highlighting.

Benefits – obviously! 

It (almost) goes without saying that perks such as an onsite gym, free lunch, free parking, annual bonuses and so on are worth promoting! But what else can you offer? Flexible working is one of the most sought-after benefits today, and companies are offering increasingly inventive and alternative benefits – the subject of our last blog!

Ask your staff…

It’s worth consulting with your staff to find out what they most like about working for your company. Can you turn any of this valuable feedback into useable copy?

Don’t make me think!

Of course you want the brightest and best, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to test your candidates’ intellect, skills and aptitude. But don’t make them work too hard to find the key information they need in a job ad. All you need to do is make them want to apply: an overview of the role, requirements and some persuasive copy about the company and job is all you need! Keep it concise.

Don’t make me think, part 2! 

Clarity sells, so use bullets, short paragraphs and jargon-free language to help candidates easily and quickly understand the role. The job title should be jargon-free too: obscure titles unique to your company will mean relevant candidates are less likely to find your job in a search. Be clear on location: confusion or doubt about location is off-putting.

Don’t hide the less favourable elements of a job

Most firms are too sensible to do this. It’s pretty clear this is a mistake that will come back to haunt you when someone leaves because they were mis-sold a role. If there’s a lot of admin – say it. If the role involves a lot of travel – say it.

In fact, you can make a virtue of the challenges of tough roles by using strong, active language that ensures only the right people apply: “Positive game-changer needed to take over a set of win-back accounts. The challenges are many but the rewards are great for the right person…” makes it clear that a role is not for the faint of heart, while ensuring that only the right kind of people apply.

List tangible requirements & avoid subjectivity

Isn’t it interesting that most people seem to believe they have good communication skills, and yet many people criticise the communication skills of others! The fact that they can’t all be right suggests that judgements about certain skills are highly subjective.

The danger of asking for subjectively-judged skills is that you invite a purely subjective response! So instead, try to state requirements that people know they either can or cannot meet, like experience of preparing budgets. If communication is really important, be more specific and couch your requirement in more quantifiable phrases – demonstrable success writing reports or copy, or presenting to a board, or communicating difficult messages to a team whilst keeping them on-side, is much easier to understand, rate and assess.

Understand how your own “deal breakers” stack up against candidate potential

You need to be clear about the minimum requirements a candidate must be able to meet in order to qualify for a role, and whether any of what you’re asking for could fall under the heading of “desirable” rather than “essential”. If a particular skill, qualification or experience is desirable rather than essential, is this something that could be learned on the job? If so, you’ve immediately enhanced the appeal of the role and expanded the pool of available candidates likely to apply.

Want to increase your application rate? Show the salary

Adverts with even a broad salary range (for example, £28,000 – £37,000 depending on experience) receive up to 40% more applications than those without. The word “competitive” might help you, but it doesn’t help your candidates – and many people interpret it as meaning “we’ll negotiate to get you as cheaply as we can”.

Don’t discriminate

Don’t put anything in your advert that would limit the appeal of the role to a specific gender/age/ethnic background and so on. There are exceptions, but generally it’s a good idea to follow this rule of thumb.

Structure is key

Put the most important information – the headlines, if you like – at the top of the advert, and supplementary information below. Information about the role should go above details about the company.

Product advertising usually features an enticing picture and the benefits of a product as the focus, and the small print includes information that a prospective buyer might want to know once they’ve been hooked in by the ad. Your vacancy advert should follow the same logic.

Understanding your audience

The usual advertising caveat applies here: follow the above rules unless to do so will alienate your intended audience. You need to know your audience well enough to be able to appeal to them – and if you don’t, we can help, because we have a lot of experience working with different audiences! 

Onefix Media can provide an advertising template based on a fictional advert that will help you to follow all of these guidelines! Simply contact us at:

Contact Onefix Media today about your vacancy advertising:

Office: 023 9229 2989

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*Gallup poll: