The ultimate guide to great job advertisement
By: Jean-Paul Diaz-Caneja
Reading time: 6 min

The best staff aren’t the people who are great at the job. The best staff are the people who use all their skills and personality to take your business further. And the first step to finding these people is through an awesome job advertisement.

The purpose of a job ad is to attract the jobseekers that are right for your business, so that you’ll have a choice of quality applicants from which you can select the best recruit from a pool of great candidates. And it’s a two-way process – make sure that you’re a great employer! Quality applicants have more choice in the job market than you’d think – and if you’re not prepared to be a great employer, your applicant can toddle off down the road to find an employer that is.

What’s in a job ad?

Your ad needs to cover three areas:

  1. The role – the job you’re hiring for.
  2. The skills and attributes needed – the kind of person you want.
  3. Why people should want to work with you – the good stuff about your company.

And before you even make the job advertisement public, you’ve thought of these things, right?:

  • What exactly you want from this role, and how it fits in your organisation.
  • The kind of person you want for this role.
  • The legal requirements for the job: the right to work, DBS check, certifications or insurance.
  • Induction, onboarding and training.
  • How you’ll include the team in the hiring process.

The elements of a great job ad

1. A strong headline and opener

In a noisy world, attention is a commodity that you must earn. Make sure that your job ad headline catches the eye of your target jobseeker. The headline is the hook that draws them in. No-nonsense job titles can work, but you could add eyeball-grabbing elements.

For instance, head a commis chef job ad with:

              Kitchen Ninja – a fun title that will pique the interest of any kitchen-related jobseeker as well as express a relaxed, informal culture that will attract people who relate to that.

              Ambitious Commis Chef – a no-nonsense title that indicates the jobholder could expect responsibility and promotion.

              Commis Chef   – another no-nonsense title that will attract no-nonsense commis chefs. Yes, it does what is says on the tin and if you’re looking for no-nonsense staff, it’s perfect.

Follow with up to three reasons why people should apply. These could relate to the job, e.g., “You’ll make a difference to the community every single day,” or the company ethos e.g. “Join a friendly, fun team who work hard and play even harder.”

2. The right details

Job advertisement structures differ, but they all must contain the details that will help potential applicants fully understand the role. They need the basic details to help them decide to apply (or not).  If you don’t include the basic details, you spend valuable time dealing with applicants that aren’t right for the job, or hours on the phone responding to questions. Think what, when, where, who, how much and why. Your job ad should include the:

  • Job role; you’ll need a job title and also the key responsibilities of the post – but don’t go into detail because it’s a taster, rather than a full job description. If there’s management responsibility, it’s good to mention this. Don’t forget working hours.
  • Person specification; the right mix of knowledge, skills, experience, qualifications and attitude you expect in the jobholder.
  • Salary and benefits; highlight the wage or salary, holiday and other benefits.
  • Location; where will the successful candidate be based? Will you expect them to travel for their job?
  • How applicants should apply; what’s their next step?

3. The right tone

You may have the most fantastic job for a brilliant applicant but if your job ad is snore-inducing, long-winded or just too difficult to read, there’ll be no takers. This doesn’t mean you should over-emote with a ton of exclamation marks and emojis!!!!! (looks bad, doesn’t it?). Instead, use all the tools of engaging language. Try:

  • Talking directly to the applicant by using “you” and “your” – the second person. “You’ll be working directly with the public” is more engaging than “the successful applicant will be working directly with the public.”
  • Using the active, rather than passive, voice; “You’ll need great customer service skills,” rather than “Great customer services skills will be needed by you.”
  • Being direct; “We’re looking for exceptional talent to make our customers love us even more.”
  • Choose positive action words – these are more engaging. Words like achieve, lead, direct, solve, inspire, recruit, supervise, manage, train are all positive action words.
  • Don’t forget that correct spelling, grammar and punctuation are important. Mistakes and typos give a bad impression.

4. The good stuff about your business

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and your job advertisement has to work hard to make a good one. Your ad acts as your company’s CV and it’s your first opportunity to sell yourself to people who could help your businesses go places. You need to stand out in all the right ways so that the right jobseekers are attracted to you and are excited and motivated enough to apply.

So how do you do this?

              Be welcoming

Whatever kind of person you want for the job, it’s important to be welcoming and encouraging. If your job ad gives the impression that you’re doing the job seeker a massive favour by inviting them to apply, or being rudely dismissive of people you don’t want, you’re likely to turn off good potential employees.

              Show your values

Your job ad is an opportunity to attract people who share your company values. Make sure that you’re clear about them. You’ll know what your tribe responds to, so be open about what’s important to you. Got awards or badges? Are you big on diversity? Are you a corporate global citizen? Tell the world and your tribe will find you.

              Show why you’re a great place to work

What makes you most proud about your business? Why do people like working for you? If you don’t know, maybe it’s time to find out. Perhaps there’s a great team spirit; perhaps there’s opportunity to develop; or perhaps you can show you’re making a real difference.

What to avoid

In your enthusiasm to attract the right applicants, you should never play with the truth. Your job ad must avoid hype and overstating the good stuff. The job title must be accurate – a call centre operative is not a marketer. By managing the expectations of applicants, you’ll avoid the “revolving door” effect – losing new recruits within weeks, months, or sometimes, within hours. And that’s expensive.

If you put in the extra work to create a great job advertisement, you’ll get the recruits you deserve.