Employment advertising tips
This article is written with a view to recruiting skilled/professional people. Bear in mind that we are experiencing very low unemployment levels, so most people who have something to offer are already working and there are more media channels than ever before competing for their attention. If you are fortunate to catch their attention with your advert you need to make the most of it, because you are unlikely to get another chance.
Given that advertising often plays such a fundamental part in the recruitment process, it pays to get it right. A poor ad may not just be a waste of your money and time - it may also damage your brand and make it more difficult to attract the people you need.
On the other hand a really well written ad may catch the eye of that stellar employee who can make all the difference to your business.
Structure your advert
Don't underestimate how much candidates can be put off by a poorly written ad, or one that is disjointed. It's important to set some quality time aside and put some effort into the content and structure of the ad.
There should be a logical sequence to a job advertisement which draws the audience in and persuades them to keep reading. Half an hour spent writing a really good ad can be a valuable investment. It may even take longer, but if you're going to advertise it's worth doing it well.
- Tip: It can be difficult to come up with a creative advert under pressure, sometimes the words just don't flow! Try to set time aside to write ads well before the copy deadline or before you want to post the ad.
The title is the first thing a prospective candidate will read in your ad. If it doesn't hold their attention it will be the only thing they read before moving on to the next ad. Needless to say, the title is very important!
The advert title is usually the job title, in which case make sure it accurately reflects the nature and level of position, otherwise consider using a different advert title. Also consider a 'grab line' - a short statement about the position intended to grab the attention of the audience. This may appear immediately after the title or even be added on to the end of the title. For example "Senior Planner - career progression opportunity!" sound a lot better than simply "Senior Planner".
- Tip: Unless you are an organisation at the top of your field and widely recognised as an ‘employer or choice', then we advise against identifying your organisation in the title or the grab line. People may have pre-conceived impressions of particular organisations or may have a negative view of working in a particular sector or industry. Remember, you want people to read your advert before they decide whether or not they are interested.
Many advertisers use bullet points after the title. Bullet points can be useful to highlight positive attributes of the position and the company and persuade the audience to keep reading. But that's all bullet points should be used for. Reiterating the title or stating the job reference number are hardly going to grab the attention of the reader. In fact it may say "I couldn't think of anything to put in the bullet points but they were on the template so I used them anyway".
The main body of the advert should begin by giving the reader some information about the organisation (the employer) and highlighting the positive aspects of the work environment. Obviously you should state the location of the job (if it's not already shown along with the title, in the case of many web based advertising products), but you may also consider expanding on this if the location may be an attraction.
- Tip: Don't assume that job seekers with instinctively know anything about your organisation.
This should be followed with a description of the position or 'opportunity' and the major responsibilities, (particularly the more interesting responsibilities!). Only a summary is required - you want people to apply so they can find out more, or at the very least contact you for more information.
- Tip: We sometimes see advertisers dump the whole PD into the ad - don't do it! It's really obvious that is what you have done, it appears lazy and can simply be too much information at that stage of the process.
Do mention any factors which are unusual, such as a significant amount of travel.
The selection criteria should be 'tightened' or 'loosened' depending on the response you expect. If demand exceeds supply, cast a wider net. Avoid including any specific qualifications or professional body membership that are not mandatory requirements - some people have a tendency to rule themselves out too quickly.
In the current economic climate, salaries for many positions are rising, so unless you are sure you are offering a competitive salary by current market standards, or unless you are required to do so, don't mention the salary levels in the advertisement. You can always say that the salary is negotiable. It's better to get good response and discover that you haven't pitched the salary at the right level, than to publish a salary and get no response at all.
Do mention any other benefits and attractions such as training, personal development and opportunities for career progression. If it is available, mention relocation allowance for applicants from interstate and/or overseas.
Application instructions and contact details
Make it easy to apply - avoid making applicants 'jump through hoops' to access more information about the job or submit an application. Make sure there is a contact name on the advertisement and if at all possible, provide an email address for enquiries and/or applications.
Good caliber, experienced candidates will be reluctant to submit their CV to an anonymous advertiser, or even a well known organisation which offers no means of following up on their application. The best candidates often want to discuss a position before applying, either by email or telephone.
If you point applicants to your web site, make sure the link works and the job/position description is easily found on your web site.
- Promote your job by emphasizing the positive attributes of your organisation as an employer and your geographical location. Be sure to highlight any benefits which might differentiate you from other competing employers. Mention career advancement prospects if they exist.
- Unless you genuinely expect your advertisement to generate a huge response, be careful not to over qualify the advertisement.
- Choose your language carefully. You are hoping to attract intelligent, tertiary qualified professionals. Poor grammar and spelling mistakes are unforgivable!
- Whenever possible get a colleague to proof read your advert, preferably someone with a critical eye.
- Make yourself aware of the law. Discrimination is unpopular and it's illegal.
The final test