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How to Write a Job Ad that Gets Candidates Queuing Up

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“Hard working person needed for steel supplier in Brisbane” is just not going to cut it, is it? If you happen to be God’s gift to the steel industry, what is there in this job ad to make your eyes light up?A good job ad needs to aim to achieve two main things:

  • Attract great candidates
  • Weed out time-wasters

These two purposes should underlie every move you make in creating your ad.

It’s called an “advertisement” for a good reason – it is there to sell something. The job is your “product” and the job seekers are your potential customers. Consequently, satisfying the classic AIDA sales approach of Attention, Interest, Desire and Action will get the best results.

Just before we get on to how to do that, there are a couple of important initial questions to ask.

Who are these “Great Candidates”?

If you’re attempting to attract high calibre people to a position, you need to define what you are looking for. A good job ad doesn’t even start with the ad itself; first consider the ideal qualities for the role. There are many considerations, such as:

  • Do you want someone skilled and experienced?
  • Are you prepared to invest time into training the person?
  • Are you looking for particular academic or trade qualifications?
  • Is attitude important to you? How about potential?
  • Is the ability to fit to a certain working culture important?
  • What exactly are the roles and responsibilities in the position?
  • How important is the position in the context of the whole business?

It might be a good idea to begin by writing the answers to these questions down; maybe ask a few colleagues to provide input as they may consider aspects that you haven’t.

Where is the Ad Being Posted?

The second major consideration, which will help shape your ad, is where it is being posted. On a general online job board? On an industry-specific job board? In a magazine or newspaper? At the local newsagents?

The tone and content of the ad needs to reflect both who it’s trying to target and where these people are reading it.

If it’s competing with many other ads in the same industry how do you make yours stand out from the crowd, for instance?

Writing the Job Ad

There is quite a checklist of inclusions to go through when starting your ad. You may be restricted by how much space you have, but you want to let the job seeker know about all the positives of the role and the company and include plenty of “what’s in it for me?” content.

Most ads will require the following basic features:

  • Your Company Name

This is obvious but there is a skill to getting this right. Try to add a descriptive term about the company in this section such as “Sydney’s leading brewery” or “One of Australia’s premier ice cream makers.”

If it is being posted online, as is most common these days, make sure the all-important keyword(s) is/are in there for search engines and searchers. This applies to the whole ad, not just the company name.

  • An Informative Job Title

The title is often the first thing that a job seeker sees, so make it informative and describe what the role entails. Always keep it relevant but, if possible, make it catchy. This is especially important if it is being posted on a job board with many similar positions. The reader may see hundreds of similar ads – what is attractive about your position?

  • Company Description

“What does your company do and what’s so great about it? Why should I get excited about working for you?”

These are the questions that a job seeker is asking. These days they are able to plough through so many online ads that it’s hard to stand out; you can bet your life they will be wondering what you can deliver that the others can’t. Not just the salary – what are the perks? Great culture and atmosphere? Industry leadership? Superb training and development opportunities?

  • Job Description

This should include not only descriptions of the key responsibilities of the role and details about location, work hours and salary, but an understanding of the importance of the role to the organisation as a whole and a taste of the company “flavour” if possible.

A job seeker wants to know more than daily tasks; they want to know what contribution they will be making, who they are interacting with and reporting to and what culture/environment they would be stepping into.

Make sure you do include location details because you probably don’t want people who have a long commute applying. Most people cannot relocate. Sales people will need an indication of territory size and location.

  • Describe the Person you are Looking for – the Ideal Candidate

Think about the qualities of the person you are trying to attract. If you want creative people, make sure you press the right buttons and let them know the job requires innovation, problem solving, etc.

Cultural ‘fit’ is normally an important part of job satisfaction, so it will benefit the job seeker and your business to attract the right ‘fit’ of person. You will only really know this in the interview, but you need to get them to submit their resume first.

Beyond experience, education and skills, what else are you looking for? What is required? What is preferred?

  • The Next Step

Make sure you tell candidates what the next step is. How do they apply, what do they need to do/send specifically?

Ensure they have all the necessary details, including deadlines for applying, email addresses, phone numbers, URLs of websites, Facebook pages or LinkedIn profiles for more info etc.

If you have space, set expectations by outlining the recruitment process from there.

Final Tips

You should have a fairly clear idea by now of what will get you a pile of quality applications, but here are a few brief, final pointers to help you along the way:

Keep it Simple

Don’t over-complicate it by using jargon that people won’t understand, fonts that people can’t read or graphics that detract the reader from the main message. Lay the information out in a logical and understandable fashion.

Keep it Specific

Over-generalising will see your ad lost in the crowd. Keep it specific. Every business wants hard workers and good communicators for instance – it doesn’t really need saying.

Keep it Interesting

Remember you are trying to attract interest; keep it positive, lively, informative and as brief as possible. Make the most important elements of your ad stand out. Don’t be scared to show some personality and avoid providing too many technical details that might switch the reader off.

Okay, you’re ready to go. It’s been a long one, but hopefully you’re all clued up now on how to write that job ad that lands your next superstar!

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