The current job market is competitive and finding the best talent is more difficult than ever. Attracting prospective candidates can be challenging and the truth is, part of the difficulty may be the result of a not-so-great job advert.
Are you interested in learning how to write an effective job advert that will reel in the strongest of potential hires? You’re not alone.
To help you get the most out of your job ad, we’ve put together a handful of our top, tried and tested tips on how to write a job advert.
How to write a job ad successfully
Nowadays, simply informing potential candidates about your job opening is not enough. As with most adverts you see whilst browsing online or displayed on billboards, they need to sell an opportunity. One that could potentially change or at least improve the lives of the audience. This is especially true when you consider that the talent you are trying to source may already be in employment.
Interestingly, in a recent survey* we found that 46% of people would apply for a job with a lower salary if it gave them more flexibility. Additionally, 40% said that they would consider a lower salary in exchange for better company benefits, and 36% would change if there was an opportunity to do more exciting work. This shows that having an understanding of candidate motivations and weaving these into your job advert is advantageous.
An effective job ad will engage and excite the candidates you want. Capture their attention and convince them to apply by focusing on the key selling points of your company. Essentially stand out and emphasise what they will gain in return for taking on the role you have to offer.
Make sure that you include answers to the following questions:
- Why is the role a great opportunity for them?
- How will the job improve their life and career?
- What makes your company the best place to be?
How to structure a great job advert
It is essential to pay attention to how you structure your job ad. A great approach is to structure it in a way that places focus on the candidate’s interests. A well-structured job advert can look like this:
- Job title
- What is in it for the candidate
- A description of the ideal candidate
- How to apply
The job title is key and is the first thing candidates will see. Make sure that the job title is clear, concise and includes the level of the role, i.e junior, mid-level or senior. There is no need to think outside the box when it comes to the job title. It is best practice to apply the standard title used in your industry to make it easier for candidates to find your job ad.
After salary, our survey found that location and commute time were rated as the most important factors when applying for a role. Few people want to relocate for a new job. Luckily, when you post a job advert on Reed.co.uk candidates can see the job title, salary and location at the same time before they click apply. They are also able to use location and radius filters – therefore commute time is covered too.
It will probably come as no surprise that 76% of respondents in our survey told us that salary is one of the most important factors when applying for a role.
Providing a precise salary is great, and there are plenty of reasons why you should provide a salary in your job advert. Despite this, we found that 44%** of hiring managers don’t always post a salary on their job adverts, with 8% never posting salaries at all. One-third (33%) said that they avoid posting salaries because they don’t want to cause internal unrest, and 25% do not want competitors to see what they are offering.
However, it is still worth finding a middle ground by including a salary range. Especially when you consider that job adverts that include a salary receive 27% more applications*** than those that don’t.
What’s in it for the candidate?
This is your opening section. It is your best chance to sell the role and tempt prospective candidates into reading the rest of your job advertisement.
It is essential to use this section to highlight your company mission and what you stand for as an employer. The right candidate will need to have values and traits that align with the company, so this is key to include in your job advert.
Showcase your perks to demonstrate what’s in it for the candidate (besides the salary). If you offer any exciting or unique benefits, such as company trips, a free breakfast counter or a good mentorship programme, now is the best time to promote them. This will draw in like-minded candidates that will fit into your company. It can help to speak to existing employees and find out what they enjoy most about working for your business. Their answers can help to inform the benefits you choose to highlight in your job ad.
You don’t want to put off the best candidates by greeting them with an extensive list of responsibilities and duties. A great job advert will welcome them with a proposition that allows the jobseeker to visualise themselves in the role and your company.
Here are four factors you should be addressing in the first paragraph of your job advertisement:
- What benefits and perks do you have?
- How will this role benefit the next step in their career?
- Explain your company vision and culture
- Why should the candidate continue reading the job advert?
Who is the ideal candidate?
Ultimately you are looking for someone that possesses the skills, experience and qualifications to triumph in the role. But how do you communicate this without potentially scaring off the candidate?
Firstly, short bullet points are great at grabbing attention – everyone loves lists. Separate skills into two sections: essential and desirable. This way you don’t discourage great candidates from applying because of a requirement list that is too comprehensive. The list of essential skills will set a clear outline of the employer’s expectations.
Talking of setting expectations, you can write a great job advertisement by giving direct, measurable goals that the ideal candidate will be expected to achieve. Including goals set clear expectations and it will make your ad stand from the multitude of job descriptions that the right candidate may be reading through. You can inform these goals by talking to stakeholders to create realistic and measurable achievements for your job advert.
Then there is also experience to consider… It is common to include the minimum number of years you require from a candidate in a job ad. However, this may exclude younger candidates who are exceptionally competent and have fast-tracked through their careers. A good way to work around this is to state the precise area of experience that is required for the role, for example, ‘A proven track record of handling client accounts exceeding £3 million per year.’
Details on how to apply
All job ads should end with a clear call to action. Include details on how to apply and an indication of what the next steps are. This is a simple step but tends to be overlooked despite it being a crucial way to make the application process easier.
It is best practice to give a timescale of when applicants will be contacted after applying so they know what to expect. For example:
‘Please apply using the button below. Successful candidates will be contacted within seven days. Due to a high volume of applications, we will not be able to contact applicants who were not successful. Therefore, if you don’t receive a response within seven days please assume that you were unsuccessful on this occasion.’
Including this should also reduce time spent responding to emails or calls from applicants who want to know the progress of their application.
How to optimise your job ad to get results
Keep it concise
Less is more. The ideal word count for a good job advert is 500 words and a shorter job post has a higher application rate than a longer one. When you consider that people can now apply for jobs on-the-go using mobile apps, short job descriptions are a great fit for the modern candidate. This is because less text will help optimise your advert for smaller screens. You don’t want to overwhelm potential applicants so it is essential to find a good balance between informing candidates about your job on offer and being concise.
Check, check (and check again)
OK, this might seem obvious – but you’d be surprised at how many recruiters fall victim to common (and easily fixed) mistakes.
Not only could mistakes reflect badly on you and your brand, they may also jeopardise the clarity of your job description and specifications. This could make it harder for candidates to figure out if the role is right for them.
So before you put your ad live, proofread it more than once – checking for typos, grammatical errors, contrived phrases, and industry jargon. Having a colleague sense-check it will help you avoid any overlooked mistakes.
Because remember: CVs aren’t the only documents that need to be spell-checked.
Set the right tone of voice
When it comes to the tone of your ad, picture the most ideal person for the role and team. Then, write as if you were speaking to your ideal candidate.
Choice of wording is crucial and you will need to strike a good balance. Avoid using language that is too complex as it may give the sense of inaccessibility. On the other hand, your company can lose credibility if you use slang. There should be some reflection of your company culture in your tone but avoid going overboard if you want your advert to be taken seriously.
Use inclusive language
Job adverts can unintentionally create an image of the “ideal candidate” which is not always correct. This oversight can cause you to miss out on diverse candidates who may feel like they aren’t the right fit.
How can you prevent this from happening?
- Stay away from phrases that perpetuate faith or cultural bias
Avoid the use of phrases such as ‘strong English-language skills’. This may discourage non-native English speakers. Listing social qualities, such as, ‘…the ideal person needs to like coming to after-work drinks’, can exclude people that belong to particular faith groups.
- Improve the accessibility of text
Harvard University advises that it is best to avoid using underlining and italics.
Instead, you can use bold to emphasise something in your job advert to make text accessible for all.
- Be mindful of gender-coded language and pronouns
Gender-coded words can discourage women from applying for the role on offer. When listing the ideal skills and qualities required for the role, consider whether your choice of language is contributing to a heavily masculine-coded advert.
You’re ready to post!
In today’s competitive market, it’s more important than ever to use your job advert as a magnet to sell the role on offer and attract the best talent.
Focus on what’s in it for the candidate and highlight what they can gain from the role and your business. Demonstrate your company culture and values so that you attract candidates that will be a great fit for your company’s mission. And finally, keep it concise to gain more applications.
As a bonus, there is typically an appetite for job hunting at the start of the week. Data reveals that 52% of job applications are made across Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday****. Whilst the weekend yields a smaller 19% share. So, it’s best to get your job posted first thing on a Monday.
Our data also shows that on average job adverts receive 45% of total applications within the first seven days of a job going live. After this, 17% of applications are made in the next seven days******. This demonstrates a surge of activity directly after a job is posted that trails off as the job advert ages.
Now that you are equipped with the information you need to write a great job ad, what’s next…
Well quite simply, get your job posted! With over 11 million people turning to Reed.co.uk in their search for work each month*****, find your next hire on Reed.co.uk.
*This online survey was conducted by Atomik Research and consisted of 2,008 adults in the UK. (95% were employed and 5% were unemployed). This survey took place between the 4th – 11th February 2022. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS-certified researchers and abides by the MRS code.
**This online survey was conducted by Atomik Research and consisted of 251 hiring decision makers in the UK. The survey took place between the 7th – 18th February 2022. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS-certified researchers and abides by the MRS code.
***Analysis of jobs adverts on Reed.co.uk during 2021.
****Analysis of job applications on Reed.co.uk.
*****Analysis of average number of jobseeker visits and applications between May 2016 – May 2021.
****** Analysis of jobs posted on Reed.co.uk between 21st May – 22nd April 2022.