• Stephen Flanagan

Top 10 tips to attract the best candidates to your job ad

Summer is here. A common perception is that very few people are interested in looking for jobs at this time. That's because the schools are on holidays and certain industries and public sector take extended breaks. It's a time for relaxing and forgetting about work.


Being on holiday allows us time to switch off and stop thinking about the day-to-day pressures of working life. It allows us an opportunity for reflection, for perspective. That can be about love, life or career. Let's face it, we might be able to switch off from our work emails and the daily slog but our careers are nearly always at the forefront of where we are going with our lives. And holidays can bring them even more to the forefront as we look at the people with a perceived better lifestyle than we have.

"I need a job with more money"

"I need a job with more flexibility"

"I need a job that's more challenging"

"I need a job where I can climb the career ladder"

So now is arguably the most important time to be posting your job ads. However, they are a waste of time if you're NOT persuading top talent to apply for your job

Here are my top 10 tips to write a killer ad.

1. Use a job title someone searches for

Lots of companies have their own little internal phrases or office language. Because staff are in that bubble they sometimes forget that they are not using the language of the outside world. For example, in advertising agencies an account handler is called a ‘Suit’. Whilst I’d be very surprised to see an ad for “Suit required for global FMCG account” I have seen the job titles “Customer Account Specialist” or “CPE Lead” when the companies were actually looking for account managers. If in doubt, Google your job title and see what comes up.

2. Sell your company

Most companies don’t describe their business in a job ad. Go one better and SELL yours. Tell the prospective candidate what makes your company great and why people love working there. Sell your employer brand. The days are long gone when it was just the candidate who was doing the selling, it’s a two-way process now.

3. Use simple language

The golden rule of copywriting is to make your language simple. You want to get the message across as quickly and effectively as possible that you have the best job on offer. So why risk sending your candidate to a dictionary to find out the meaning of a long, obscure word?

4. Write in the second person

Few job ads that I've seen use another old trick from the rules of good copywriting: writing in the second person, i.e. using the pronouns you, your and yours. When you write in the second person, as opposed to the third person, you are being more personal, talking directly to that person. In the case of a job ad, it makes it easier for the candidate to visualise themselves in your job.

Third person “The successful candidate will project manage the implementation of the new systems”

Second person “You will project manage the implementation of the new systems”.

Which works better when you read it?

5. Use great verbs

It’s often advised that jobseekers should use verbs in their CVs to make them less passive. The exact same thing can be said of job descriptions. A verb describes an action, it is THE doing word. You want to give people the sense the work is busy and engaging.

“You will motivate and inspire your team, leading by example and delivering…. ”

“You will manage the budgets and squeeze out every ounce of value you can.”

6. Be concise

Make your ad as short as you can, without leaving out any of the crucial or interesting information. Lots of people ask for ‘team players’, ‘good communicators’ or someone who can ‘work on their own initiative’. What sort of candidate is not going to think they are any of these things? You can review them for these skills during the interview stage.

Many job ads I’ve seen have a paragraph of information and then repeat some of the elements in bullet point format. Why? Don’t waste the candidate's time. Yes of course they should be interested in your job, but if you make your ad long-winded you risk the chance of them losing interest and moving on to another job; especially in the modern, online, impatient world.

7. Put yourself in the shoes of the candidate

Marketers do this every time they are working on a project. If you don’t think about the customer, how can you give them what they want?

For example, what does a chef want to know about a head chef job? Well, they should be interested in the size of the kitchen, the equipment they will be using, who is in their team and the freshness of the food they’ll be using.

How about an IT developer, what interests them? They’ll be motivated by the type of projects they will be working on, the scope for creativity, or not, as the case may be. Will they be client facing? Will they be collaborating with other developers and other departments?

8. Include benefits

We are programmed to want reward for our endeavours. So how come the majority of job ads don’t let candidates know how they will be rewarded for doing all the work in that long job description? As I mentioned before, the recruitment process is now two-way. Candidates nowadays aren’t just grateful for any job they're offered and especially not the top candidates who will be in demand. So what are you offering them? If you can’t arrange benefits that cost money like a top salary, share options, or gym membership, that’s understandable.

However, there will be other elements to the job that will be considered benefits for the candidate, such as great training or promotional prospects or even just the challenge of the job. Think of our chef up above, if he knew he was working with a sous chef from a Michelin restaurant, he would be very excited.

9. Inspire & excite

Speaking of excitement, I look at job ad, after job ad and after a while they all start to look the same - a job description with skills and education required. If you want the best candidates for your job, what are you doing to make it sound appealing to the reader of the ad?

Interestingly, I know lots of recruiters & HR professionals who start selling the job once they are speaking to the candidates they are shortlisting. Why not use the first opportunity when a prospective candidate discovers your job ad? Think how many great people you are missing the chance to sell to? Equally, if the job doesn’t sound inspiring and exciting, how can you expect your candidates to be?

10. Check out the competition

Wherever you’re placing your ad, have a look at what the competition is doing. It doesn’t matter whether it is in a trade magazine, on a job board or on a social media platform. Are there many jobs competing for the same candidates as yours? How do they look? Are they well written? Do they sell the job to the candidate? If not, brilliant! You’re already a serious step ahead of them. If they are using most of the tips I’ve mentioned above then you need to be using these tips just to compete. Then it comes down to the power of the persuasion in your content.

Good luck!

About the author

Stephen Flanagan has been a marketer for almost 20 years, including various roles copywriting for advertisements, direct mail, brochures, flyers, social media and websites. Over eight years for Hays Recruitment he produced his own successful job ads and trained others to do so. Stephen can transform your job ad, right now. Or provide you with training to successfully write your own ads.

#Jobadwriting #Recruitmentmarketing #Toptips #Recruitment #HR #Sourcing

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