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Getting job ads right

Getting job ads right

Why do so many companies get job ads wrong? A glance at any recruitment platform will reveal dozens of poorly constructed posts full of buzzwords, cliches, vague promises, and just plain dull copy.

Job ads matter because they’re the very first touchpoint in the recruitment journey. It’s an opportunity to capture the interest of high-quality talent and motivate them to take action.

Writers of job ads are typically under pressure to reduce time-to-hire. To get the recruitment wheels turning as soon as possible, they cut corners by rushing out a job advert that is unfit for purpose and ultimately doesn’t help the business make a great hire.

Here are five tips for getting job ads right.

  1. Start strong

Determine the most significant selling points for this opportunity and put them at the top of the job ad. The reality is that most readers will never get to the end. Capture their attention straight away, and motivate them to keep reading to the “apply now” call to action.

The biggest attraction will vary from opportunity to opportunity. Perhaps it’s the salary. Maybe it’s the big company name. Maybe it’s your brilliant culture. Whatever it may be, don’t bury it deep in the copy.

  1. A job ad should be an extension of your brand

Many job ads look and feel nothing like the company's broader brand. This is a mistake because job ads are a public-facing touchpoint that gives readers a glimpse into the company culture. You can bet that many companies' Chief Marketing Officers would be aghast to see some of the ads in circulation that undermine their brand.

It starts with a template. Does it look and feel like the company brand? If you don’t have a template, this is a job for marketing – in consultation with HR – to create something that uses your brand’s logo, coloring, font, and so on.

Next, think about the language used. It should match the voice of the wider organization: if you work for a relatively conservative institution (say, a bank), don’t put out a casual or chatty job ad. On the flip side, if your company uses an informal tone to communicate with its customers, don’t be stiff or overly formal. Again, marketing can help by providing a style guide. 

The broader recruitment journey should also reflect the brand. If you’re a cutting-edge, digital-first company, don’t funnel candidates into a clunky process full of paperwork and form-filling.

  1. Tailor your style to your target talent pool

Think about who your target audience is. If you’re looking to hire a marketing manager, they’d appreciate a lengthy, well-written job ad that gives a glimpse into the sort of language the company uses. An engineer, on the other hand, might prefer plain facts and bullet points.

In procurement and supply-chain recruitment (my areas of specialty), I’ve found that this particular audience wants to know details: spend size, categories involved, strategic versus tactical, how much travel is involved, etc. 

  1. Don’t include too many requirements

Writing an over-lengthy list of required skills and experience will inevitably attract fewer quality candidates to the role. Simply put, it’s a turn-off because the job can sound too tricky, or the writer of the ad can come across as a micro-manager.

Including too many requirements for a role also harms diversity: men apply for jobs when they meet only 60% of the qualifications. Women are more likely only to apply if they believe they are 100% qualified. 

Besides of this, nobody has time to read a lengthy job ad. Stick to the essentials, and applicants will appreciate your brevity.

  1. Dissuade the wrong people from applying

We’ve spent most of this article attracting the right candidates with a well-written job ad, but it’s equally essential to dissuade the wrong people from applying.

This is particularly relevant in a recovering economy when the market is flooded with many more applicants than available jobs. This translates into a situation where candidates are much more likely to apply for jobs they are unqualified for.

To avoid the cost and time of pre-screening hundreds of irrelevant applications, it pays to be blunt. Be clear about your minimum requirements (“Please do not apply if you do not meet the following criteria…”) and consider including a section about why this job might not suit everyone.

Better-quality job ads will attract better-quality candidates, mainly if they see themselves reflected in the culture you describe and are excited by the opportunity you present. For professional advice on getting this critical step in your recruitment process right, contact us at Vitalize Talent.