How to write a job advert
24th September 2015
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If you’re recruiting, your job ad can make the difference between screaming success or abject failure. Many ads are short and slapdash because time’s short, and others are a re-hash of the Job Description. Neither add much value to the process. Here’s a few straightforward tips on how to make them better…

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Are you sure you want to do your own recruitment? Be aware that a well-run recruitment process will take double the time you think it will. Getting your ad right is critical in getting the right people, but you’ll also have to deal with the people that don’t meet your criteria (which will probably be the majority of applicants), dealing with interviews and making the appointment – especially during a skills shortage when good people are snapped up very quickly.

Be aware also that as soon as your ad’s placed, you’ll get offer of help from other recruiters looking for business, and your competitors may get some idea of what you’re up to.

But if you’re committed to managing your own recruitment:

THINK ABOUT YOUR AUDIENCE

Be clear who you’re trying to write for and try to write in a style they’ll find attractive. This may seem obvious, but have a look around the majority of ads and you’ll realize this is a trick that’s often missed.

DESCRIBE THE ORGANISATION

Describe your organisation in brief. Talk about size, longevity, and try to describe the essence and spirit. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Management of expectation is important throughout the recruitment process.

DESCRIBE THE JOB

Not in detail, but emphasise the key responsibilities. Don’t be tempted to just cut and paste from the Job Description, as that’s usually just a cold statement of facts. If there is anything vital, repeat it and highlight it. Make sure there are no surprises, although you don’t want to wash your dirty laundry in public either. If there’s a big job to be done, you might write something like “A big role with real challenges that will excite the right sort of candidate” – in my experience, that usually attracts more people than it puts off. Try to think what the reader may find attractive about the job, and describe what’s in it for them – excluding salary – that comes later

DESCRIBE THE INDIVIDUAL YOU’RE LOOKING FOR

Again, don’t write War and Peace, but outline what’s essential in terms of skills and experience. Be specific. If this section is poorly written, you’ll get loads of applications that won’t proceed and will waste your time.

Also think about the person and their likely attitudes and aspirations. Describe them if you can. And if you need an exciting and enthusiastic salesperson, reflect that in your writing style.

Mention training provided (because most people are motivated by self-improvement, and also mention career prospects if that’s relevant.

Finally, don’t be specific about gender, age or anything that’s got nothing to do with the role you’re looking to fill. I’m not being politically correct here - I’m just trying to get you to identify the skills and experience in specific terms so you get somebody who will produce the outputs that are important to you.

WORKING HOURS AND LOCATION

This is something to be clear about and is often missed off many ads. You only want to be interviewing people who fit all your wants, and you don’t want to make an offer to somebody you discover hates early mornings after you’ve sent them an offer letter and told the other candidates they’re unwanted.

SALARY

My advice is to ALWAYS mention salary. If you can be specific, great, and if you can only be general, that’s OK too. Again this is about management of expectation. Don’t waste everybodies time if you’re attracting people who are already paid well above what you’re offering. Also give a general idea of other benefits, and be aware that people are much more aware of issues like pensions and healthcare packages, so mention them, but no need to be specific.

TIE UP THE LOOSE ENDS

Describe the start date, the interview process, and who’s involved. Many candidates will have their own timetable, so if they’re interested, they can flag this up as an issue early, and you can then react as you best see fit.

IN SUMMARY

In my experience, a good job ad is about as long as this article. It doesn’t get stuck in detail, but it covers the main points and frames what’s going to happen clearly and in plain English.

Recruitment isn’t a process that can be left to take care of itself, and writing a well-considered job ad will make the later stages easier to manage and save you time overall.

If it’s all too much, please call me on 07823 887982

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About the Author

Martin Ellis

Member since: 30th September 2014

An East Sussex based Headhunter leading the Executive Search function at RSE Group. I am interested in everything that happens in business and that effects the local community. I think East Sussex is a...

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