How to Write an Effective Employment Advertisement
In the world of employment the competitive job market pits job seeker against job seeker. It also places employers against each other as they fight for the attention of the most qualified and available candidates.
A well-crafted job advertisement:
- Sells the position and the employer to prospective applicants.
- Positions an employer above its competitors.
- Uses the selection criteria to discourage readers who are not ideal candidates.
This article interrogates the art of writing and placing an employment ad that will help lure the best applicant for your role. It is aimed at small to medium sized businesses that advertise vacancies online and in printed publications.
As a former recruiter, I successfully advertised and recruited for sales, clerical, administrative, management, technical and specialist roles in service organisations, the health and fitness industry and software industries. In this article, I will provide you with recruitment advice on how to:
- Write an attractive, but selective job advertisement.
- Assess an application based on the advertisement’s criteria.
- Short select candidates from their written applications.
If you are a job seeker, this article may provide you with an insider’s view into the selection process and tips on how to improve your application’s selection.
Recognise the Vacancy
Then, review the role and previous hiring process.
Before Placing a Job Ad Review the Role
An employee has resigned or perhaps the work keeps piling up and you need a new helper. If you have a job opening, before you start advertising, review the position. Ask questions like:
- Has the current role changed since it was last advertised?
- Have the business needs changed?
- If a new role has emerged, what duties will it entail?
- How much time can be allocated for training the incumbent?
Right before placing a job vacancy, the perfect opportunity to review the role and its requirements arises. Every role requires a job specification and position description. These handy documents help with:
- Advertising the position
- The selection process
- Business processes, and
The job specification and position description are dynamic documents that evolve with the role. When a person leaves a position, it provides an excellent opportunity to investigate the needs and changes of their position.
You may want to interview or survey the departing employee, their line-manager or other employees with whom they interact as part of their duties. An up-to-date role statement and position description provides useful information for creating the job vacancy.
If you have previously advertised the role, you may also want to review the previous selection process. Questions you could ask include:
- Did the last advertisement attract the best candidates for the position?
- How many candidates did it attract?
- How did the applicants’ skills and attributes compare to the requirements of the role?
- Which advertisement sources attracted the best candidates?
Aside from critiquing the wording of the advertisement, also consider where the advertisement was placed. Did the placement provide the best exposure for candidates that could fill your position?
Before you advertise review your recruitment process for this role. Below are four different types of selection processes that gather useful information to help with the short selection of candidates.
Selection Process ExamplesClick thumbnail to view full-size
How to Create an Online Job Advertisement
There are four aspects you need to consider when placing a job advertisement online:
Which place is the most effective for your job advertising?
1. Location: Where Should the Job Vacancy be Placed?
Recent research by Pew shows 79% of people in the USA use online resources to find employment.
Aside from advertising online, you should consider if printed advertising suits your vacancy. Perhaps your potential candidates still read the Saturday classifieds? Placing an advertisement in a local paper may suit some roles.
Other forms of advertising such as word-of-mouth through current employees or the placement of a notice in a shop window can have positive results.
Job seekers look for employment vacancies on job boards, classified advertising, company websites and social media.
Placing an advertisement through a job board can be expensive, especially if you want it to stand out. If you have a high employee turnover or growth, you may want to consider purchasing advertisement packs at a discounted rate.
Other places where you may want to consider advertising your vacancy include:
- Career associations
- Industry forums and groups
- Career or Industry specific magazines
Places to advertise an employment vacancy online
Other Digital Opportunities
Where will you find your candidates?
Target your advertising to where your most successful candidate will be found.
- Who are they?
- What do they do?
- What are their online habits?
You can gain a better understanding of your ideal candidate by reviewing the job specification and job description.
Also, consider your the values of your business when hiring as you want to seek employees who emulate these values.
2. Timing: What is the Best Time to Place the Advertisement?
While timing for online career advertisements contain similar considerations to traditional printed advertising, the most popular day for seeking a new job has changed.
Twenty years ago, when recruitment advertising focused on printed publications, timing was crucial. Saturday classifieds contained hundreds of vacancies with advertising deadlines up to two days prior to publication. Papers often catered to the employee who by the end of the working week was ready to seek a different job.
According to Time Magazine, Tuesday is now the new Saturday when existing employees will search for a new job. Other employment sites report an increase in job searches on Mondays, when employees return to work and realise they have a whole week ahead of them in a dissatisfying role.
If you have previously advertised for vacancies within your organization, consider looking at any available historical data on job placement and the receipt of applications. If you have not collected this data before start doing so, as it could help improve your candidate success rate.
Things to consider:
- When do your industry competitors post their job advertisements?
- On what day do most job advertisements for this specific role appear online?
- What day do you receive the most employment enquiries?
Digital Job Advertisements
Use online writing skills to create employment ads.
3. Copywriting: What Should You Include in the Text?
Paper advertising often limits copy to a specific number of words. A printed job advertisement may use bullet points and succinct descriptions to elicit a successful response from a reader.
If you digital advertisement includes an unrestricted word count, resist filling the web space with large informative paragraphs. Paragraphs over four lines will be lost as most readers skim online text and this also applies to online job seekers.
When it comes to writing an employment ad for an digital job board, online writing skills matter.
To make your advertising copy readable:
- Be succinct
- Keep paragraphs to three or four lines and use them sparingly
- Use short sentences
- Use headings and bullet points
- Embrace white space
- Use links (where permissible)
- Include interactive elements like an image or video to engage the reader.
Consider including the following aspects in your recruitment advertisement:
- The position title
- Who the position reports to within the organisation
- Employment type (e.g. full-time, part-time, casual, temporary or contract)
- Hours of work
- Remuneration and other benefits
- Essential criteria (This is what the applicant must have to begin the role.)
- Desired criteria (This is what will make the applicant stand out from other job seekers.)
- A brief description of the role’s importance
- A brief description of the organisation (What it does differently to its competitors.)
- A brief description of the selection process (Include how to apply and a closing date.)
Avoid using buzz words such as “state of the art”, marketing slogans and brand jargon as this can often clutter a job advertisement with unnecessary and distracting text.
Bullet point your essential and desired criteria to help your reader assess whether their skills and experience match the role. Clearly adding this information can help reduce the number of applications you receive from unqualified job seekers.
Embrace white space
4. Be On-Brand
While your business brand is an important consideration for any published advertisement, avoid using marketing jargon in your recruitment advertisement, unless it adds value to the recruitment process and the advertised position.
The prime aim of your advertisement is to entice suitable and qualified applicants. Overselling the organization's appeal with marketing catch phrases could have the opposite effect. Instead, sell the organization’s brand through the professional design of the copy layout.
Use your company approved:
- Colours (use sparingly)
- Font face and style
Be aware of what fonts work well for your online applicant. Some fonts and colors make digital reading more difficult than others, especially on a cell or mobile. Preview your advertisement on different devices.
If you intend to do a large amount of online recruitment with online job boards, consider creating a template for recruitment advertising. Some job boards will work with you in designing a professional, on-brand template for an additional fee.
Also, consider adding a short company video that highlights your organisation’s employment benefits. If you don't have a video, consider adding a professional photo that shows your employees hard at work, but also having fun.
First Steps in the Hiring Process
The First Cut: Short Selecting Candidates From the Written Applications
After you publish your advertisement, remember to collect statistics on the number of hits and the number of applications you receive. Collecting data about your job advertisements and reviewing it regularly will help to improve the success of your recruitment and selection processes.
To begin the selection process, regularly sort the applications into email folders based on how they respond to the essential and desired criteria. Organise the applications into three or four folders for:
- Poor response
- Fair response
- Essential addressed
- Essential and desired addressed
Create your short list of candidates from those applicants who have addressed and who match the selection criteria.
Respond to all candidates who apply. Your email program may allow you to configure scripted emails that advise applicants about the selection process, as well as email templates for sending unsuccessful notices or confirmation notices for interviews.
Streamline and understand your recruitment processes and procedures. Finding a new employee who can add value to your business begins when you recognise the vacancy, and when you understand how an applicants skills and abilities can develop that role.
Do you have any special tips you would like to share in the comments about your online job hire process?
© 2016 Tina Dubinsky