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7 Ways to Make Your Job Ad Stand Out

7th November 2022

Want to attract a better quality of job applicant? Start with the ad.

Trust us, we get it. If you’re in the middle of a major recruitment drive, the prospect of writing your 20th job ad this week and making it sound appealing is a bit of a challenge. But it’s important to invest the time and effort in getting every ad right.

Why a great job ad matters

Right now, a great job ad matters because it’s a candidates’ market. Generally speaking, there are more people seeking to hire than there are people to recruit. It makes sense, then, that you should take every opportunity to boost your chances of recruitment success. A job ad that’s better than the ones above and below it on the jobs board could make all the difference.

It’s also true that most job seekers are passive. Reported figures vary between 70% and 75% but what’s beyond doubt is that most of the people browsing your job ad are doing just that: browsing. They don’t need to find another job. They’re not especially hellbent on leaving their current employer. They’re just open to a fresh opportunity should one appear.

A passive ad makes it easy for a passive jobseeker to ignore it and move on. A job ad that hits them between the eyes? That might just be enough to make them sit up and pay attention.

So how do you create a job ad that stands out? Here’s our guide.

7 steps to a great job ad

1. Think about the people you want to attract and target them

One-size-fits-all doesn’t really fit anyone. So rather than taking a copy and paste approach to your job ads, spend some time understanding the people you want to attract.

Create a persona for each vacancy. Give them a name. Think about their experience and qualifications. Consider what they want from this role, their ambitions, what gets them engaged and what they would value most about your workplace.

Once you know the sort of person you’re talking to, it’s a lot easier to create an ad that speaks to them.

2. Make the job description clear

Most candidates are using Google or jobs boards to search for their next role. So while it’s tempting to play with the job title to make it a little more interesting to a human reader, first it needs to be found by a search engine. A job seeker probably won’t search for ‘store leadership ninja’. They probably will search for ‘store manager’.

Bring the interest and personality in the body of the job ad but make the job description search engine friendly.

3. Give it some personality

Let’s not go overboard. First, the ad needs to be on brand – it would be weird to see a brand that’s known for its class and refinement taking a wacky route to its recruitment posts.

But personality is important. It’s what makes a candidate feel that yours might be the right organisation for them. So although your ad should be appropriate, there’s nothing wrong with making it engaging, conversational and human.

That’s particularly important when you come to talking about your organisation. It’s all too easy for brands to sound like carbon copies of one another on jobs boards, so consider what makes you different. What makes you stand apart from others? What is it about your organisation that should get a candidate excited? Then, demonstrate that difference by explaining it with personality.

4. Say it differently

“Proactive.” “Passionate and enthusiastic…” “A results orientated team player who thinks outside the box.” If you’ve spent any time around job ads, you’ve seen all the above cliches and many more.

Cliches don’t make your job ad wrong—maybe you really do want a passionate and enthusiastic team player—but they do suck the soul out of your writing and make you sound like everyone else. Which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to show how you’re different.

So keep your cliché detector turned up full, and when you find yourself typing something that literally everyone else says, take a step back.

Think about what you really mean and what you really want to say.

Then say it differently.

5. Think about the skills and experience you really need

Lots of job ads tend to adopt an ‘everything including the kitchen sink’ approach. The list of essential skills is a page long; so is the list of nice-to-haves. Half of them seem to repeat each other.

Not only does that make it a hell of a trudge for applicants who have to read all that stuff, it can also feel like you’re asking for the impossible, which risks reducing your pool of applicants.

Ask yourself what really matters. Try to thin out your long list of bullets into a handful that really count.

6. Mind your language

This is very much linked to our first point about knowing your target audience—you’ll probably choose slightly different language when recruiting a director of finance compared with a concession supervisor.

But there are some common rules that work for pretty much any ad, no matter who you’re targeting. Short paragraphs. Short sentences. Short words. They don’t just make your writing clearer, they also lower its reading age. That matters, because the average reading age of the UK population is nine, and you don’t want to lose some potentially great candidates because you threw huge, scary sentences at them.

7. State the salary

We understand why many employers choose not to state the salary. You don’t want to make life easy for your competitors. Yet salary matters to job seekers. It’s the driving factor behind around two in five applications. Industry research suggests stating the salary can led to more than a 25% increase in applications.

So yes, you can fall back on the old, reliable ‘competitive salary’ but you’ll get a better response by giving the numbers.

For help in making your job ads (and your recruitment) more successful, talk to us.

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