The Great Copywriter Heist: The Recruitment Ad Job

Revealed: 1 Steal-Worthy Persuasive Writing Technique That Converts Browsers into Quality Applicants

This article was inspired by vexed frustration. I was frustrated by a recruitment marketing campaign that failed to convert decent candidates and hobbled by a laughably minuscule recruitment budget. I realised I had to help myself do better under the circumstances with a little cross-discipline adventuring.

Forget a Hack. This is a Heist!

(with a few dashes of creative license and a touch of humour thrown in for good measure).

The Target

We are going to break into the Copywriters’ reinforced steel vault containing all their revered methods. After we get inside, we crack the safe that contains their persuasive copywriting techniques and the prized jewel - The C.T.A. or Call to Action.

The what?

For the less ambitious among you with a desire to play safe, this job might not be for you. And that’s OK.

For the rest of you, we have a heist to execute.

Are you still with me? Good!

 The Call to Action: A Priceless Jewel and Technique to Master

Imagine you have created a beautifully branded recruitment ad. It’s gorgeously seductive and attention grabbing. As soon as it is published, prospect interest and candidate views skyrocket.

But the plot unravels here.

For some reason you are not converting this high interest and views into to actual applications – at least not to the level and the numbers expected.  Your stats suck.

A likely cause is a wishy-washy Call to Action or worse no Call to Action. It is your nemesis to be thwarted.

The focus has been on grabbing attention but telling people what to do after you have hooked them has been overlooked. This is a common fixable mistake.

A CTA is a persuasive writing term, typically found in sales copy in either print or digital media that tells your audience or customers what to do or the next step to take.

You are familiar with CTAs like;

“CLICK HERE to try it FREE for 21 days”

“Subscribe NOW”

“White Hot Summer Sale. Shop today and save a further 30%”

Ginny Soskey writing in a Hubspot blog post explains;

“a call-to-action (usually abbreviated as CTA) is an image or line of text that prompts your visitors, leads, and customers to take action. It is, quite literally, a “call” to take an “action.”

Sonia Simone, The Pink-Haired Marketer’s podcast ‘Call to Action: The Awesome Power of Asking for What You Want’ reveals this often overlooked marketing superpower. She sums up simply why creating an effective CTA is technique to master.

“If you don’t tell people what to do – people won’t do it.”

Adapt or Get Caught (Out)

But a recruitment ad or campaign is not really sales, you may sniff.

Heck yes! Make no mistake a recruitment ad or marketing campaign are sales messages. They are a pitch – a proposition of employment to your candidate.

Is sales too low brow a pursuit for HR?

Shift your mind. You are selling.

Even more challenging, you are probably selling your organisation’s employment offer in a (over)-crowded market.

You are faced with a new reality.

Your target candidates are increasingly passive and comatose by the bombardment of obvious ‘join us’, ‘pick us’, ‘tell a friend’ or ‘apply’ messages every day.

 5 Simple Tips to Creating an Effective CTA

Use these 5 tips to help you create candidate specific CTA’s that convert interest into action.

1. Swipe ideas from the winners: Be on the look out for any recruitment marketing awards and add to your SWIPE FILE.  For example the UK's CIPD Recruitment Marketing Awards winners' downloadable brochure is in my file.

2. Seek out Inspiration: I had a total fan crush on DreamJobbing™ for TOMS’® Dream Job Recruitment Campaign. Head on over and be inspired by this master class of the purpose-packed recruitment campaign, peppered with compelling candidate specific CTAs.

3. Be explicit: Tell your candidates what will happen next after they submit their application and what to do each stage of your recruitment process. Leave no room for guessing or assumption or error. Tell them their next move E-X-P-L-I-C-I-T-L-Y.

4. Watch your Language: You need to be direct but not rude or overpowering. Dust off your grammar notes and use the imperative form of the verb to give instructions your candidates will follow.  Better yet follow this cheat-sheet.

To gently poke readers into action, pilfer Tip 3 from Henneke Duistermaat’s ‘5 Ways to Make Your Words More Powerful (and Get Readers to Listen...

5. Create your Candidate Experience: An effective CTA is both transactional and emotional.

It is transactional as it tells the candidate what to do next; e.g. ‘subscribe’, ‘apply’ ‘post’.

It is emotional as it appeals to the candidate’s current or aspirational sense of self. E.g. the need and/or desire to make a difference, to change the world, to be seen as smart, to join a prestigious tribe etc.

It is also a CRAZY-IF-MISSED opportunity to continue the conversation with your candidates.

Expand the relationship to create a thriving community or active tribe via social media (‘join’). They may not be hired now but if you have successfully filtered in individuals who share your values you are well on the way to building an enviable community of advocates for your organisation as a business and a place to work.

So Savvy Recruiters/ HR Marketers, you have the loot in your possession – The C.T.A jewel the Copywriters’ (now not so) Super-Secret (but still) Savvy Technique.

Now over to you!

How will you apply these tips to boost the effectiveness of your next recruitment marketing and candidate selection campaign?

I hope you enjoyed this caper as much as I did.

This article has been tweaked and refreshed. It was originally posted in the blog The HR Rabbit Hole on 26th July 2015.

Nicole is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Aquarius Human Resources Consulting Ltd. Passionate about HR as Art, she is an advocate of Creative HR. Connect via Twitter @AquariusHRLtd.

Views: 462

Comment by Katrina Kibben on October 13, 2015 at 11:47am

This is a great post and you hit the nail on the head - we've got a new reality on our hands. One of my go-to CTA tips is what I call the "over yonder test." If I take 10 steps back from the website, can I still tell what you want me to click on? Most job posts fail this one. 

Comment by Nicole Antonio-Gadsdon on October 13, 2015 at 12:35pm

Thank you - "over yonder test" is making it's way swiftly into my SWIPE FILE!


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