As a recruiter, I spend big chunks of my day scouring job boards. This is not the most interesting part of my job even though I love to read. I am a reader by nature but reading job adverts all day is enough to make me fall sleep standing up. How many times can a person read "must be computer literate with a dynamic personality and the ability to work in a team"? Do these companies really expect stellar candidates to respond to less than stellar ads? This generic method does not inspire hitting any apply now buttons.

After spending a good part of my morning reading adverts, I got to thinking that in today’s overcrowded market, particularly as the war for talent is at an all-time high, it's hard to write an advert that stands out and compels people to react and send a CV. How do you attract the right candidates using 500 words? As a recruiter, I have often been tasked with writing a client’s advert. Mr. Client will send me three lines and ask that I jazz it up and post it everywhere hoping that it will attract the unicorn that he wants. Well, we do what we can, but it is pretty hard to write a job spec for a company that you don’t actually work at. An advert should reflect the ethos of the company; it needs to capture the vibe and the best person to relay this vibe is the person at the actual company. Sure, recruiters can help you fine tune it, but the information needs to come from the client. 

Remember, it's an advert!

Would you buy products based on boring adverts? No, you would not. The advert is nothing more than that – an advert. A job advert is about attracting super talented people to your organisation. These brilliant people need to look at your advert, get the feels and want to make the next move. Job adverts are all about marketing, after all you’re selling your company and the vacancy to the hundreds of people searching for jobs every day. You need to approach your job ad like you would any marketing project. It should be creative, engaging, personal, and targeted to your audience.

An advert is an opportunity to start a conversation and drive people to act, so make the advert interesting and make it about the job seeker. Why should the candidate apply and what makes your company cool? How will their career grow and what will they learn? Who will they work with?

Adverts that cover these questions stand out for the right reasons. If the right person reads it, they’ll be inspired. Your goal is to encourage people to send an email, apply for the job or phone the number. When promoting any product or service, an advert needs to prompt a call to action.

SEO is king

This is not 1999. Candidates don’t search for jobs on physical job boards anymore. Candidates use the web to search for opportunities, they join FB groups and follow companies on Instagram. Recruitment ads need to be found by search engines. Making your job ad visible to the right candidate is the very first step in the recruitment process. If your ad can’t be found because it’s not optimized for search, then even the best written advert becomes obsolete.

Do your research on what keywords are associated with your vacant position. Find out what candidates are typing into search engines and include those keywords into your recruitment advert. This will make your advert more visible.


Speak to your target market

Focus on your team’s values and promote them. Culture fit is probably the most important aspect when hiring a person so talk about your company vibe and aim to target candidates with similar outlooks. An advert that targets a corporate administrator will read differently to an advert that targets a social media guru. A financial institution will have a different culture to an advertising agency so the language and style used will need to have a different tone. People build a connection with those who sound like them, so use language that is simple and accessible. Use language that resonates with your target audience.

Create the need

Identify why this position is vacant and make sure that the message is articulated with clarity and passion. Good people want to be excited about using their skills and experience to solve the right problems and succeed. For example, you may be hiring a new HR Manager who will be responsible for improving HR processes. Articulate how their skills will be used to reach the end goal. Relay how success will be measured and what support they will get along the way. Creating a need will attract candidates who want to be part of the journey.

Connecting the company to the candidate

First impressions really do count so when a candidate clicks on a job advert, you want to keep them reading. Don’t just copy and paste your company description from your website. Instead, take your company description and make a connection between the organization, the job, and the candidate. Talk about your company’s mission and values and tell readers how the position fits into that vision. Job seekers want to be inspired by what your company is doing, and they want to know how they will fit in.

The actual job description

The job requirement section has critical information that the candidate will read to determine if they can do the actual job.  This is where you list things like experience, education, skills, characteristics, language and location. Keep this section short and to the point. List your core requirements in bullet points, and only include the absolute necessary skills required. It is a fact that men will apply to a job that fits them 70 percent, women usually apply only if they tick each box. Rigid requirements will disqualify good candidates and can deter them from applying, even if they may be suited for the job. Use your discretion here. By having a good idea of what your team needs and the profile you want, this will guide you as to what requirements are mandatory.

Why should anyone work for you?

Remember that you really are selling an opportunity and you want the candidate to buy into your vision. Make sure to include your good points. Do you have an amazing office downtown with coffee shops nearby? Promote this fact and let the reader know that free parking is offered. If you have a canteen where lunch is on offer, make sure to highlight this. Free medical insurance and bonuses on offer? Don’t forget to include this. 


Put on your marketing hat, define your company, create the need, list the requirements as well as the benefits and remember to optimize your ad for search. Once you approach your job advert like the marketing tool it is, I guarantee that candidates will start hitting the apply now button.