5 Keys To Writing Insanely Good Job Ads

Picture this. You just finished taking a job order from your best client when you spy a crowd of people coming toward you. You want them to be interested in this job opening so that you can begin prescreening. They’re coming at you quickly, barely slowing down. They see you, but they’re also eyeing the recruiter next door who is waving a competing job ad at them in an attempt to get them to skip right past you. Can you quickly grab their interest and prevent them from moving on?

The scenario above is pretty close to what happens when you post an online job ad. Candidates typically see your ad as a result of a Google or Monster search which puts your ad on the same page with a dozen others. All of you are competing for the same pair of eyeballs and your only ammo is the job title and about ten words randomly selected from your carefully manicured text. Some search engines display the first ten words, others, like Indeed, look for the educational requirement and pick a few words on either side of that. What can you do to stand out?

#1 The only element you have complete control over is the job title. Use it wisely.

My first rule of thumb with job titles is to drop whatever title the client has assigned to it. After all, a company-assigned job title is designed to provide internal clarity, not attract top talent from the outside world. That’s your job. Take a look at these three job titles from a data entry production department. They are real jobs – in fact I still see recruiters using them to attract (?) candidates:

  • Prepper
  • Bag Opener
  • Batcher

Those job titles are effective in delineating responsibilities within a work group but they will wreak havoc on external recruitment campaigns because the applicant community can’t identify with them. Who wants to prep things for a living? What are they prepping? Ground beef for the hamburger press? And what’s in those bags that require a full time person just to open them?

Bad job titles are found everywhere, not just in data entry departments. What would you make of this one?

  • Solution Channel Development Manager

Is it a sales role? I’m not sure. Possibly the most qualified candidate for this role will pass up the ad thinking they mustn’t be qualified if they don’t know what it means. You’ll need to think like a candidate to come up with descriptive words that will attract the right group of people.

You’re the recruitment expert. Craft a job title that will attract the right candidates.

#2 Fill the job ad with action words.

Since you don’t know which words will be pulled into search results, make sure you pack the job ad with descriptions of what’s in it for the candidate. Use positive action words and eliminate passive language. Instead of “must be reliable and able to complete work on time” (yawn) try “take pride in seeing projects through to completion.” Imagine a red flag popping up each time you see the words must or required. They often reveal perfect opportunities to turn the language around.

Focus on arousing interest so the right group of people contacts you.

#3 Make it easy for candidates to contact you by including your contact information in the ad.

Recruiters live or die by the size of the community they maintain. You want people to phone you, email you, text you. Providing the info they need right in the job ad will make you look open and approachable. It’s not a completely crazy idea. Checking in with people briefly and regularly will tell you a lot about their communication and interpersonal skills. You’ll find yourself able to fill positions more quickly and confidently. Your worst case scenario is to receive a job order and have no candidates to interview. Your chances of launching an ad and filling the position quicker than a competitor or the client are 50/50 at best.

Stay ahead of the recruitment curve by making it easy for candidates to connect with you.

#4 Write your job ad as if you were talking to that group of candidates described in the opening paragraph.

Keep your writing fresh and energetic by remembering the fast-moving crowd from the opening of this article. You’re not writing a legal contract and you’re not trying to impress the public with your command of the English language. You want your ad to stand out in a world of digital noise. This is corny, but if you’re having difficulty loosening up, get yourself a photo of a group of people to keep in front of you while you write.

Let your real voice come through in your job ads.

5. Get your click-through statistics to learn which online job ads work best in your niche. Use the data to improve your stats month over month.

Every job board provides click-through statistics to its customers. If you’re not getting yours, start making some phone calls. Those ads are not cheap — you owe it to yourself and your team to know how you’re doing. Pay particular attention to what happens to your ads over time. Typically, all the action happens within the first four days. After that, job ads get stale and can actually make you look bad if they stay online for more than a week or two (unless your ad is for a management or specialist role that is difficult to source). Don’t let the job board people show you search results – that’s a meaningless statistic. All that shows you is how many times a particular job was part of the results thrown to the searcher. Your job may have been on page 12 and never even seen. You only care about the ones that generated action in the form of a click. I promise it will be an eye opener.

Use real data to learn what works in your niche.

If you found this article helpful, please share it. And feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.

Happy recruiting!

4 Replies to “5 Keys To Writing Insanely Good Job Ads”

  1. This is great Susan, I used to teach recruitment and selection as a trainer in local government and I wish I’d had access to your blog at the time. I’m particularly impressed with using action oriented language in the job advert – not something I’ve done myself, and will be doing in future.


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