5 ways to improve your job ads

31.08.10 | Posted in General

In my past life, I used to have a recruitment business. I’d read through hundreds of CVs a week, and write tens of job advertisements weekly too. I played around with which ads worked, and which ones flopped and quickly got to learn how to make them stand out.

Looking for a jobOne of my closest friends recently confessed to me that she hated recruiting for her business. I offered to help her and she sent me her job ad.

Oh no. I read through it and didn’t get one sense of her business, or who she was as a person. In the real world, this person has loads of spunk and her business is on a massive growth trajectory. It’s an exciting phase for the company and an unreal time for someone to join her.

Problem is, when I read her ad I got no sense whatsoever of that excitement and wasn’t enticed to submit an application at all. It was textbook. Template. Yawn.

Here are some tips I shared with her about writing job ads.

1) Make it about them, not about you

Tell the candidate what’s in it for them. Try and convey every little perk you can offer. Do you buy your office coffee one day a week? Does your company work with exciting brands? Is travel involved? Do you go on team building adventures? Is there a great leader in the business? In short, what’s in it for them?

2) Be a bit lighthearted and self-effacing

If you’re recruiting for you (ie you’re the manager and you’re looking for someone to join your team) and you’ve got some funny traits (come on, we all do) list them down. It might be something like “I’m no good without my morning coffee, but after that my world is all fine again.” Or, “I tend to run late at times, and therefore need someone to help keep me on track.” Letting candidates into your world and being a bit personable will endear them to you and make them interested to learn more about you.

3) THINK about what you’re saying in the job ad

So many people write what they think they should write in their ads, without really considering the detail. So they say “Advanced Microsoft Office skills a must” when it’d really be fine if the candidate can put together a basic spreadsheet. Don’t turn candidates away if you don’t need to.

4) Try and use the word ‘you’ a lot in your ad

So, things like: “It’d be great if you had some knowledge of Salesforce.” Instead of “Experience with Salesforce required.” Or, “You’ll love joining a team that’s focused and collegiate”, instead of “Great team environment.” Again, this is all about making your job ad about them.

5) Thank the candidate

Uh huh – that’s right. Candidates spend hours reading through job ad after job ad, and after a while they all sound the same. Yours will stand out if you just write: “Thanks so much for taking the time to read this ad. I hope we get the chance to meet soon!”


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  1. Lynn

    HI Em

    I love your idea’s of making it personal. I’m about to join the HR team at my work I so hope I can convince them to be as progressive as you are.

  2. Monica Griffin

    just got this email through after getting off the phone chatting to my distribution manager about getting agents in NSW & VIC. Thankyou!

  3. Lisa

    So refreshing. I work in recruitment and write tens of job ads a week for very demanding clients who like things to be done in a certain way. I would love to send this blog to them so they can see from a third party why we recruiters write catchy ads the way we do! Your advise is spot on and i can only hope that more and more businesses take note of this especially when candidate markets are tight!

  4. Wendy Field

    Completely agree about a well written advertisement. It’s important to sell the job.

    I believe making an advertisement personified about the applicant would certainly appease Gen Y however it doesn’t necessarily embrace the fundamental requirements of the client.

    Personally I feel an advertisement that sets the agenda about the employer expectation actually services the client better and leaves no misunderstanding about what is expected of the candidates. looks to service the employer first – they pay the bill. Recruiting an employee that has the right attitude is facilitated by spelling out in the advertisement that there is an expectation that you look after the employer.

    Fundamentally if you have a candidate with a great attitude they can be trained, coached and propelled into anything!

    Win win for everyone.