Want to Recruit Better? Write Better Job Ads

Today’s recruiters have so much to do. When I started in the business, my job was to find people, qualified people, and there were a few ways to do it. Now it feels like there are multiple ways to find a person; each one more complex and complicated than the last. I know that these more complex solutions are a boon to the recruiters that are working the phones (email?) today but it does seem to add some friction to the process and in doing so, add a touch of frustration to both the recruiter and the candidates they serve.

It’s a recurring theme actually, when you see much of what’s being presented and written in today’s blogs and conferences; that people are trying to take the personal touch out of the recruitment process and replace the recruiter with a machine, algorithm or database. Is this true? If true, is it bad? Let’s look at a place ripe for innovation, and not in the classical sense. No algorithm or new software can do this, let’s look at job adverts.

Also called the requirement, the job description, the JD, the job advertisement and in its latest iteration, recruitment marketing; this humble, yet powerful piece of the recruitment process often goes so far overlooked as to be a joke. If someone is on an employer branding campaign kick, it’s usually the last thing to be “innovated” after the new career site, the added social accounts, the mission/vision/values piece, even after the new job boards and distribution has been selected. But when it comes to connecting with candidates, standing out from the competition, creating a frictionless…yes “experience” nothing beats a well-written job advertisement.

Impactful and Ignored

Job advertisements are the first thing your candidates will see. Yet often, they’re short and terse, with little to no discernible personality or information. Many are simple copy and paste jobs from the job requirements the recruiter receives from the hiring manager. But the difference between the job requirement and the job advertisement is as different as the size and color on the side of a shoe box and a Tom Ford magazine ad. One is designed to inform (you…the recruiter); the other is designed to sell, capture, attract. Do your job ads do that? Or do you simply do the bare minimum? Would you respond to this:

java expert, 12 years exp, Philadelphia area, $80/hr

Of course not.

Standing Out From the Crowd

The good news is, if you’ve been phoning it in when it comes to job ads, you’re not alone. Thousands of other recruiters are doing the same thing and therein lies the beauty of taking just a little more time to craft a compelling job advertisement. It will set you apart, particularly in the agency world. In fact, in a recent CareerBuilder survey, 75% of job seekers reported that the look and feel of a posting influences their decision to apply.

There’s an obvious way to make your job postings better. Getting out recruited and out marketed by a rival? Look at their job advertisements and career site to see where you could use some help. There is still room for the short and sweet job advert, but it belongs on Twitter.

Let’s Get Practical

At the very minimum, a more verbose and descriptive job advertisement helps with SEO. This is very attractive from a corporate and employer brand standpoint, because over time you will start getting found for favorable terms like “great compensation”, “marketing talent" or “fun culture” — particularly if you use these terms repeatedly. Practically speaking, unless you’re being charged by the word (and we aren’t anymore, this isn’t newspaper recruiting) you should be descriptive.

But don’t go on too long. Giving your readers (candidates) a hankering for more is a time honored advertising trick. Why shouldn’t you use it when trying to sell applicants on a job?

Bells and Whistles

While recruiters are more pressed for time than ever before, we also have access to more tools and technology than ever before and much of it is free. From video to simple user experience and readability tricks, take the time to make your posting attractive. It only takes a minute: 


 Company logos or slogans can increase applications by 13% to 21%.

 Job postings with video icons are viewed 12% more than postings without video. 

 Postings with compensation listed (even a ballpark!) get a higher rate of applications. 

Even if you don’t have the time or the money to create a video for every job posting or to run it through the copy department when you need a new hire, job advertisement writing is fast becoming a required skill for those involved talent acquisition. So, at the minimum, use bullets and bolded copy to draw attention to important words, state the obvious when it comes to salary and duties, focus on outcomes and expectations and ease up the laundry list of “nice to haves”. Finally, when crafting great job advertisements, focus on what your company has to offer as well.

Bio: Kelly Robinson

Kelly Robinson is the founder and CEO of Broadbean Technology, a sourcing and recruiting technology company. Broadbean Technology has created a strong global presence with offices in the US, Europe and Australia The company remains true to the core fundamentals of its inception: “Keep it light and fun while getting the job done!” Kelly writes about leadership and culture, as well as reducing friction in the candidate experience.

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Comment by Daniel Fogel on September 1, 2015 at 10:52am

Thanks for posting Kelly. Who do you see as the gold standard for job descriptions?

Comment by Daniel Fogel on September 8, 2015 at 11:18am

Maisha - I love what the team over at Zoot! is doing.  http://www.woot.com/jobs  It obviously won't work for more reserved companies.  But i'd love to see the results on what they are doing over there.


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