Writing The Ultimate Job Advert
Every month, there are more than 17.5 million UK job-related searches through search engines alone. This has doubled in the last 10 years. Why has job search activity increased so dramatically? More people are passively searching for relevant jobs online.
The job advertising process has now changed as a result. In a candidate-driven environment, you need to engage with passive prospective candidates if you want to turn their passive views of your job ads into actual applications. This blog focuses on practical techniques anyone writing a job advert can understand and employ to help you write the ultimate job advert.
1) The job title
You must use the right job title to ensure you attract the most relevant talent to fit your role. This can also dramatically affect the number of prospective applicants that find your job advert.
It can be hugely beneficial to use well-known job titles to ensure you’re displayed on job search engines, but carefully consider the type of role you’re recruiting for.
Picking the most common or most searched-for job titles can significantly impact application numbers for more generalist roles.
Over three months, the job title ‘Internal Sales Consultant’ generates over 200 exact match searches across the five leading job boards. This sounds good until you consider the role was for a telesales consultant role. If the title ‘Telesales Consultant’ had been used instead, it would have generated significantly more matches.
On other occasions, it may be better to use a more specific job title. Although this may reduce the total number of matches, it will help direct the most relevant and high-quality candidates to the job advert more quickly.
A marketing manager role within events should ideally be advertised as ‘Events & Marketing Manager’ rather than just ‘Marketing Manager’ - Even though the latter would have significantly more monthly searches.
Avoid using internal job titles that are unique to you.
Ask the job boards or your recruitment partners to help you choose the correct job title based on evidence.
2) The ‘Elevator Pitch’
Your opening introduction needs to grab the reader’s attention and persuade them to click on your advert. This is because when candidates search for jobs online, the first section of your job description is usually what they will see in the initial listing. A powerful opening paragraph can triple the number of prospective candidates that open your full job advert.
Using questions to get candidates engaged is a common tactic that can help.
Read your opening paragraphs as if you were the candidate working for a competitor, and consider whether it is attention-grabbing enough.
“Are you a talented XYZ but feel frustrated that your current role just isn't challenging enough, or maybe you feel that you're being underutilised or simply not appreciated for your efforts?”
Include a salary
Always include a salary band in your job adverts. Having no salary listed will reduce the application rate by at least 50% because many candidates are only looking for jobs with a salary listed.
If you don't want to list an exact salary, it's always advised to list a broad salary band instead. This means that you will appear in the candidates search results as job boards often give the option to only show ads with a salary listed.
91% of all job applications come from people who already have a job, and in extensive surveys, over 80% consistently said they would be unwilling to move jobs for less money.
It is unlikely that candidates will apply for a job that does not demonstrate its willingness to match or exceed their existing package.
Honesty and transparency are massively important to prospective employees, and hiding a salary on a job advert is considered disingenuous at best.
3) Selling the opportunity
More than 75% of all paid-for job adverts failed to sell the opportunity. Over 90% of all applicants are currently employed, and research suggests that these people run a job search in 15 - 20 minute stints, either at lunchtime or early evening.
Consciously or subconsciously, every individual reading your advert is thinking, ‘what's in it for me?’. The great news is that they are most likely in a buying frame of mind - They want to be influenced by your advert.
Every job advert needs to address the 3 most influential topics to maximise applications.
1) The opportunity for career progression
2) The working environment and culture
3) The potential rewards available.
4) Essential Criteria
The golden rule is to list the absolutely essential criteria the candidates need.
It's better to list a desirable set of criteria in its own section rather than to overload the essential list and potentially prospective applicants off.
Very rarely will the best applicant have the exact set of criteria you initially listed in your Wishlist. In most cases, they will come with additional beneficial experience that you didn't even consider or ask for at the start.
5) Desirable criteria
You can put anything that would be useful in your desirable criteria section, including a list of tasks that the person will be required to perform. This is especially important for operational roles that don't have specific terminology, skills or technical requirements, as it will help the job search engines.
Make sure you're clear that nothing in this list is essential.
6) About the company and culture
You may have already referenced the company in your opening sections, but this is an opportunity to provide a concise summary of your company profile. This may include trading history, specific products and services and any other practical information about the company that a passive candidate would want to know.
Stick to the positive aspects, but use creative terminology.
For example, avoid sentences like: “We are a small company with just 3 people” - Say, “We are a young, dynamic startup with the first to market opportunity”.
We also recommend that you dedicate a paragraph to your company culture in this section. The candidate wants to get an insight into what sort of company you are, especially if you are not a recognised brand. Focus on the company's leading products and services, its customers, what indicators of growth there are, has it won any awards, and what is it like to work there?
Making additional information easily accessible from your advert can also help. Links to social media pages and your website will encourage uncertain applicants to go and access information about you.
Include a corporate video and case studies wherever possible - Video, in particular, is really influential. Remember those unsure applicants will go and research you anyway, but by providing them with access to information that you have generated, You at least have control of what messages they receive.
7) Optimise keywords for search engines (SEO)
Job boards use an algorithm to ensure the most relevant adverts appear higher in their listings when a candidate searches for the same job title. This works the same way as traditional search engines like Google do when they list results based on the keywords you search for.
Most search engines will decide how relevant the content of a page is based on the number of times keywords or phrases appear. They also look at where they appear and the relevance of the associated words around them. Luckily, there are ways you can use SEO to appear in these top spots.
The Job Title
The job title is by far the most important keyword to use. You ideally want this keyword to make up around 3-5% of the total page content to ensure you rank highly in searches; that is normally 4 to 5 times in a typical job advert of 100-150 words.
However, do not overuse it, as you do not want your job description to sound manufactured. Some job boards may also penalise you for overuse.
“As a result of our continued growth, we are looking for a talented Events & Marketing Manager to join and lead our sponsorship department. as our newly appointed Events & Marketing Manager, you can enjoy the responsibility of leading our events team to great success.”
Other key phrases
It's essential to decide the key phrases you want to include in the advert and ensure you mentioned these 2 or 3 times within the copy.
8) Avoid mechanical job descriptions
A job advert is very different from a job specification. A job specification will often list specific requirements that an employee has to do and how they will be measured; a job advert highlights key features and benefits in the hope that the candidate will buy into your organisation, culture and opportunity.
A job advert should be creative and inspire the best people to apply.
Things to remember:
The first 3 paragraphs of your job advert should grab the applicants’ attention, sell the opportunity and explain what the role involves in human terms.
The first 3 paragraphs shouldn’t aim to qualify applicants or put off unsuitable candidates. It is not a screening exercise; it’s an advert to join your organisation.
The opportunity section is the most crucial when persuading passive candidates to apply to your job. No one applies to a job just because they can do it; they apply if they believe that your job will be better than the one they currently have.
Restrict the essential criteria to between 4-8 points and only include skills critical to the role.
Include desirable skills which are not essential but are nice to have. This will reassure candidates that these skills are not a deciding factor.
Use the job advert to invite prospective candidates to a conversation with you.
The big question you need to ask yourself is: Would someone doing this job, working for a competitor, want to find out more based on what you have written?
9) Maximising the exposure of your job advert
Over 70% of all applicants start their job search on Google, so advertising your job across multiple channels can maximise your exposure and significantly improve application rates.
The 3 primary elements that determine how effective your recruitment advertising campaign will be are:
Reach - the number of relevant channels you get your job advert posted onto.
Visibility - how well optimised your job is will have a significant impact on viewing numbers within the channel.
Copy - the quality of your adverts will determine how many applications you can convert from those that found and read your job advert.
Posting jobs on multiple job boards, aggregators, and social media channels is expensive. We recommend using a service, like The Talent Hub, that offers multiple channels for one low-cost fee.
Multimedia advertising is the most effective strategy for increasing your job’s visibility and generating suitable direct applications. It’s also a good strategy for reducing recruitment agency spend.
To minimise the cost of posting across multiple channels, look at multi-job posting services like The Talent Hub that cover your target channels.
Getting a well-optimised job advert into the aggregation services is critical, as these guys end up on the first page of almost every Google search. If you follow the format we provided for structure and optimisation, you will find that you can sometimes generate some significant results even from the free networks.
And that is our guide on how to write the ultimate job advert. Are you still struggling? The Talent Hub can help you.
The Talent Hub's ATS platform transforms sourcing, recruitment, and hiring for companies of all sizes, including NFP's and charitable organisations. Our system ensures your employer brand stands out in today's AI-driven recruitment world and guarantees excellence with your candidate’s journey and experience.
Call us today on 0800 634 4477 or CLICK HERE to get in touch with one of our friendly and experienced team.
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