As an HR manager, recruiter, or team leader, you’re going to be responsible for writing compelling job ads.
When someone leaves, or when a new position opens up, you need to position your company to attract the best possible candidates – and persuade them to work for your business.
Candidates can discover your job ad in one (or more) of several ways. They could stumble upon it in a job posting board. They might see it featured on your website. Or maybe they saw it because a friend sent it to them.
Whatever the case, they’re going to make strong assumptions and judgments based on the quality and content of the advertisement.
Do a good job and you’ll have an endless stream of qualified applicants.
Do a bad job and you might get no applicants.
With that in mind, how do you write more effective, compelling job ads for your target audience?
First, you should understand the core elements of a job ad.
Certain job posting boards will have specific formatting requirements you need to follow. On most other platforms, you’ll have more creative flexibility.
Still, it pays to follow a traditionally successful format for your job post. This will make it easier for candidates to understand and review – and keep your information organized.
Generally, you’ll want to split your job ad into various sections with prominent, bold headers. This way, candidates can effectively “skim” and understand the logic of your content organization.
These are some of the most important sections to include:
What makes a job ad “compelling” anyway?
Ultimately, you should strive to make your job ad:
That all sounds good, but how do you practically achieve these goals?
What strategies should he be implementing to make your job ads more compelling?
The first step is to think like your ideal candidate.
In marketing and sales, teams usually develop customer personas to embody the types of demographics to which they want to appeal. Once you better understand the customer persona, and you do ample market research, you can think like your customer and write better advertisements for them.
In HR and recruiting, you can do something similar.
Who is your ideal candidate? How much experience do they have? How much money do they make? What do they find to be most important in a job opportunity?
Once you better understand who this person is, you can work on things like:
One of your biggest goals is writing a job ad that stands out.
To do that, you need to find ways to differentiate your company.
What makes your company unique?
Why would someone choose to work for you, rather than any other business?
These are some of the best things to focus on:
Many recruiters are tempted to write job ads as pure, unmitigated description.
They see their entire job boiling down to writing a handful of sentences about the responsibilities associated with this position.
But in most cases, it’s not enough to just describe the role.
You also have to persuade people that this role is for them.
Some people seeing your job at are going to be actively looking for a position. These won’t be much of a challenge. But others already have a position they enjoy – and they may not be interested in leaving just yet.
Or, they may really be interested in a specific perk, like remote work.
How do you convince these people that your job is better? How can you persuade them that working for your business, in this role, is going to give them a higher quality of life?
You need to think about this and write your job ad as persuasively as possible.
In a sense, you’re trying to sell people on this position.
Traditionally, job ads have been written with bullet points end numbered lists.
Intuitively, this makes sense. Bullet points are a convenient way to organize lists of details, especially when you’re trying to organize the skills necessary to succeed in this role or the responsibilities a candidate will take on by accepting this role.
However, modern best practices for job ads encourage writers to leave out the bullet points entirely. Instead, write in full sentences and paragraphs and try to make your job ad more narratively cohesive.
This is going to help you in a few different ways. For starters, you’re going to stand out; most job applicants don’t like seeing the exact same format for highly similar positions, over and over again.
This is also going to make your job add more engaging, bringing people in with more conversational, fluid language.
On top of that, this format is going to encourage you to be more creative and thoughtful in your approach. Instead of making up new responsibilities to make your bulleted list longer, you can present the most important details in a natural way.
If there are many minimum requirements or many responsibilities you feel are necessary to understand before a job applicant submits an application, feel free to include them. But for the most part, you should keep your job ad concise.
Too many recruiters and HR managers err on the side of length; they feel compelled to include as many details as possible to make the job seem more important or to appeal to every possible demographic. But in practice, lengthy, convoluted job ads force people to skim and make people feel exhausted before they ever submit an application.
After writing your first draft of a job ad, consider combing through it and removing any unnecessary details. How can you say things more concisely? Which details are most important and which ones can be left for later?
Most candidates respond to job ads more favorably when the ad is written in a more personal way. That doesn’t mean you have to adopt a casual tone of voice, but it does mean you should try to write more like a human being than a robot.
When reading your ad, people shouldn’t be internally debating whether or not this was written by an AI algorithm. It should be obvious that the ad was written by a human being with a real personality.
This also sets a good tone for the future of your working relationship. People want to work with other people; They don’t want to work with faceless bureaucracies or cold, uncaring algorithms.
Writing a job ad should never be a completely solo endeavor. Before publishing any of your work, you should take it to other people and collect outside opinions.
It’s especially important to get the opinions of people who already hold this position, as well as people within this department who will be working with the chosen candidate eventually.
Do these people feel you’ve adequately captured the scope of this position? Do they have recommendations for how you can make the position more appealing? How would they have responded to this add if they were applying to your company for the first time?
You don’t need to completely rewrite the job ad just because someone else doesn’t think it’s perfect. But if many different people have the same critique, it’s a sign you should make an adjustment.
AB testing is a popular marketing tactic, but it has an excellent application in the job ad creation world.
The basic idea is this: create two different versions of your advertisement and publish them in similar contexts. Then, measure the performance of each version to determine which version is more successful.
In the marketing world, you might measure this with metrics like traffic, conversions, or subjective favoritism. When placing job ads, you might simply measure the number of applications.
Creating an experimental alternative version can educate you, in real time, about the importance of certain factors, like wording, formatting, and titling. The more you experiment, and the more you learn, the better you’ll be able to write job ads in the future.
One final note here. So far, we’ve comprehensively covered the most important strategies for writing a compelling job ad. But you also need to remember that placement is half the battle.
You might have a hypothetically perfect job ad – a precisely accurate depiction of the role, customized flawlessly for your target audience. But if the people in your target audience never see it, it’s not going to be effective.
Make sure you publish and distribute your job ad on as many channels as are relevant to your target audience. And use any audience controls available to you to filter out people who aren’t a good fit.
Are you trying to develop better jobs ads for your business? Or do you need help in other areas of recruitment and HR? Contact us for a free consultation today!