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How to Write a Job Ad That Actually Works

When you’re deliberating over how to write a job ad that will appeal to your target candidate persona, take some time to consider what potential applicants actually want to see.

Most companies forget that when a candidate looks at a job ad, it’s often the first time that they’ve interacted with your company. It’s perfectly possible that they’ve never even heard of you before.

Data from the Candidate Experience Awards shows that 48% of all applicants have no prior relationship with the company that they’re applying to — they’re coming in cold.

That’s a lot of people who will be hearing about your company for the first time through your job ad, and you better make a good first impression!

What do candidates want to see in a job ad?

Your job ad needs to be very clear. Do not assume that the applicant knows:

  • Anything at all about your company
  • Anything at all about your product
  • What makes you different (or your EVP)
  • Why others work with or for you (i.e. employee motivation)

You have to weave this information throughout your job advertisement to really capture the applicant’s interest.

When applicants were asked “What is the most valuable job-related content to you?” the top answers they gave were:

1. Job description

Since this is often the introduction that a candidate has to your company,it’s hugely valuable to job seekers, so make sure you think carefully about how you word it.

2. Salary range

With compensation being a key part of any candidate’s decision making process, it’s surprising that only 12% of employers share salary information in their job descriptions. It’s something that candidates really care about, so it could be worth including at least a salary range (if you’re not already).

3. Benefits

Job seekers want to know the kinds of benefits a potential employer offers. This could be anything from dental care, paid parental leave, to access to your company table tennis table!

4. Examples of success

Many job seekers want you to describe what a great employee would look like. Only 33% of employers talk about what their ideal employee looks like, so this is another way you can make your job ad more effective.

5. Clarity on career path

Accepting a job offer is a huge milestone in people’s lives. Applicants are looking for an understanding of the different career paths that are available if they accept the role.

The job must be presented as a stepping stone in their career, with the potential for them to move on to other things. Very few employers do this! Map out the potential career paths that an applicant could pursue from this role and people are more likely to show interest.

When you tie all of this together, you have the recipe for a great job ad that will provide the applicant with all of the information that’s most important to job seekers.

Let’s take a closer look at building the perfect job ad, now that we know the key components.

Job Specifications ≠ Job Advertisements

A job specification is for internal company use only. This is created for legal reasons and is not the best way to attract your ideal applicant. A job ad has one objective — to encourage people to apply.

Here are three job ad tips that could be useful:

1. Use images

Using real images of your office and current team gives your job ad a more human element, and it’s more authentic. If you can include a video, that’s also a great way to showcase your company to potential applicants.

2. Structure your ad with headings

These provide structure to your job ad. Even simple techniques like bolding keywords help job seekers focus on the most important content. Remember that most people skim hundreds of job ads when they're searching for a new role, so give your company the best chance to make an impression.

3. Try not to include bullet points (they don’t work)

Instead of using bullet points, try creating a job ad that includes detailed paragraphs to share all of the relevant information that candidates want to know.

So what does the perfect job ad actually look like?

The road to a great job ad lies in following the “SUCCESs” mnemonic — a tried and tested guide to creating clear, compelling copy that delights candidates.

The secret to a great job ad:







so, the word is spelled properly...

A great job ad features every single one of these qualities. Use this as a checklist when you create your next ad. Let’s dig into the anatomy of a top job ad. You’ll see that we’ve highlighted instances where the “SUCCESs” framework plays a role.

1. Summary of Why and Who

Why are you hiring for this position? How will this position help your company hit its goals? Share this information with candidates to increase engagement with the ad.

2. Describe the employer

Assume they know nothing about your company or client. Describe the company mission, and explain why it’s a great place to work.

3. About the job

Share information about the role. Try to use words like “you”, “your” and “yours” to engage readers.

4. About the ideal candidate

Research suggests a candidate-centric description will engage higher quality talent. Make sure you share information on what the “ideal” candidate looks like, together with the opportunities that the role has in terms of career progression.

5. Requirements

Define what is absolutely required for your role, in simple language, so there’s no confusion from prospective candidates. Then you can add in the things that aren’t necessarily required, but might be beneficial to have.

6. Salary range & benefits

If possible, touch on the salary range and benefits. Not all companies will allow you to do this. If you’re restricted from sharing this information, you could add something along the lines of, “Contact me to discuss!” You’d be surprised how many people will actually take the time to reach out if they’re seriously interested in the role.

7. Application process

Define the application process. Candidates want to know what happens once they apply. Set expectations of when they should expect to hear from you. Giving people an idea of what the process is, reduces their risk and fear, and will increase the likelihood of top talent applying to your role.

8. Call to Action

Close with a great call to action. Remember, not all candidates will have an up-to-date resumé ready to send to you immediately.

Consider passive candidates who may not be actively searching for a new job, as well as active candidates. Provide a way for passives to leave their contact information or sign up to be notified about future opportunities.

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