Looking for a safe stance on the use of exclamation marks in recruitment advertising? Me neither.

The exclamation mark is known informally as a bang or a shriek. It’s frequently used in fiction and then mostly to express strong feeling in spoken dialogue.


There are broadly 3 types of people who use exclamations marks when writing:

  1. Amateurs
  2. Children
  3. Fashion Journalists

Clients don’t want their recruitment agencies to be any of these things – which makes the fact that some consistently use exclamation marks in their job postings all the more surprising.


So, leaving the cheap jibes aside for a moment, why is it not a good idea to use exclamation marks in recruitment advertising?


When you run an ad with the headline Sales Manager! and a first line that starts Exciting Local Company! it quickly raises the enthusiasm to a level that recruiter is going to find very hard to match when the cold hard reality of working for a struggling engineering company in Runcorn has to be delivered later.


So, unless the advertised job really is worthy of a breathless jollity not seen since Lorraine Kelly interviewed Graham Norton on breakfast telly, cut out the exclamation marks and make the candidate-management part of your job a little easier.


Then there is the most important piece in this part of the recruitment process; the reader.


Please note that they’re not candidates yet.


Naturally, you want the people who read your advert to get a good impression of you and to take you seriously as a business professional. That means writing an advert that is calm, measured and accurate. It can still sell, it just doesn’t need the shrieks at the end of the sentences.


That kind of gushy enthusiasm is off-putting at best and patronising at worse; and it doesn’t matter who your target audience is because they’ll all feel like they’re being oversold to or being talked-down to. And if that loses you only one qualified candidate, it isn’t worth doing. You owe your clients at least that.


More broadly, it’s been argued by smarter people than me, that an adult’s sanity is inversely proportional to the number of exclamation marks they use when writing on the Internet. Maybe that’s a subject for another day.


Stop using exclamation marks in your job adverts. Or invest in a copywriter.


If you disagree with what I’ve said here, please start your comment with I use exclamation marks and I think they’re fab!! so I can ignore your opinion more conveniently.


Thank you.

Views: 341

Comment by Valentino Martinez on September 4, 2011 at 12:30pm


Good points.

An advertisement that BARKS at you is annoying.  Using that methodology to recruit is off-putting...and for good reason.


The need to shriek is essentially a call for me to avoid you.  Common sense suggests that advertisement should attract not put-off--so my guess is that those who do operate in this manner are conducting a stress test.  A sort of warning that their work environment may also operate in such a manner.


So reader beware.  When they say, "Fast Paced!"--they mean collision course ahead.


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