What not to do in a job ad


Writing the perfect job ad plays a vital role in finding your ideal hire.

The most effective adverts are concise, engaging and actually add value, rather than simply being a detailed list of day-to-day tasks and responsibilities.  And it’s especially difficult if you use the same template for every role.

So, if you’re looking to make your ads stand out and attract more of the candidates you really want, here are some of the most common mistakes you may be making:


1. Asking for the impossible

Although listing what you want from applicants is essential, it can be easy to get carried away with unrealistic expectations.

Because let’s face it: are you really going to find ‘a senior graphic designer who’s also had four years’ working in financial project management in a non-profit organisation (and who also plays the flute)’? Exactly.

To make sure you’re not asking for something that doesn’t exist – think realistically before you list your ideal specifications. Then, separate your must-haves from your nice-to-haves. Although many aspects are needed, you might find that you’d allow exceptions for a candidate who ticks every other box.

Otherwise, you’re only likely to be limiting your options.


2. Using clichés

Unfortunately, even the most perfect job ad can be compromised by how you word it.

Whether it’s through excessive jargon or meaningless clichés (e.g. ‘hit the ground running’, ‘take a bow’), the way you phrase the details of the role or the type of candidate you’re looking for can seriously harm your chances of being considered.

And although many technical terms might seem like second nature to those already in the business, much of it can confuse (if not completely deter) potential candidates. So before you overload your job ad with PPCs, EBITDAs and CTAs, ask yourself if there’s a simpler way you could explain things.

If it’s not completely necessary for candidates to know it, then you might be better off wording it in a way that’s easily understood by those from every kind of background.


3. Being too restrictive

Using discriminatory language can be a surprisingly easy mistake to make when you’re writing a job ad.

In fact, you might not even realise you’re doing it.

Because although it’s unlikely that you’d openly discriminate against race, sex, age, nationality, disability, or religion – you may accidentally make a statement that implies it. For example, ‘seeking young and energetic candidates’ or asking for those with a ‘clear speaking voice’ can suggest that older candidates or those with disabilities are not encouraged to apply.

Instead, list the key duties and essential skills in a straightforward manner – allowing candidates to make their own decision on whether they’d be a capable of doing the job.


4. Being too vague

When it comes to writing your job ad, think clear, informative, and concise.

Not only should it include everything from tasks and responsibilities to required skills and qualifications, it should also do it in a way that draws the right candidates in – whether it’s through keyword optimisation or providing relevant information.

But what are jobseekers really interested in? Well, with two in three jobseekers more likely to apply for a job when salary is stated, the importance of providing details like this in your job ad is clear.

And if you’re too vague with your job title, you might find you lose out on candidates who search for the same thing in a different way.


5. Being too formal

A long, unbroken block of text is unlikely to be alluring to most readers – especially those seeing your ad on a mobile phone screen – and this might be enough to deter potential hires from finding out more and applying for your role.

And although you should maintain a certain level of formality in your job ads, that doesn’t mean it has to resemble a lengthy script.

So don’t be afraid to format your ad using bullet points, paragraphs and even a conversational tone to give readers a positive impression of you and your business. This will help attract candidates who fit with your organisation’s personality, as well as making your job ad more memorable and interesting to read.

And let’s be honest: you wouldn’t pursue a candidate if their CV wasn’t formatted appropriately – so there’s no reason your job ad should be any different.


6. Forgetting to talk about yourself

Remember: the candidate isn’t the only one that has to sell themselves.

So aside from talking about what you want from them, you should also talk about what you can give back – from company perks to employee benefits.

And it isn’t just about office slides and free food. A generous pension scheme, for example, could be enough to push your dream candidate into submitting their application.

And, with over 40% of surveyed candidates choosing flexible working hours as the most important thing they look for in a job, and 38% looking for roles with a generous holiday allowance, an adaptable and flexible approach to building employee happiness is something you should always be clear about in your ads.


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