Creating Job Adverts - Advice

Continuing last posts theme on “Creating Interesting Job Adverts”. This time we look at the HOW, and how to write job adverts. Its the bread and butter of what works in most situations - in our opinion. We always find it amazing how many recruiters don’t get any training in this vital aspect of recruiting. Doing it well makes a big difference to your recruiting effectiveness.
Following on from the last blog post on “Creating Interesting Job Adverts” here is our experience of what seems to work. Its a personal view and whilst we have seen quite a bit of research over the years on what is deemed to be the “right way” there are really no hard and fast rules. Some of the most creative and best responding adverts don’t always follow the rules. However that said, the following describes what can loosely be called best practice - we make no claim on it being original.

1. The Job Title.
Don’t just name the role to what you call it internally. Think about your audience. I would recommend you only use a job title if it is one that would be recognised by your market and which sets the right expectation. If you are looking for a ‘Hunter’ type Business Development sales role then don’t label it as an “Account Manger” even if that is what you call it internally (I can think of several organisations who do this). You will be setting the wrong expectation right from the start. Sadly, it is amazing how many recruiters don’t spend enough time on this. The Job Title is the single biggest thing most candidates search on and when scanning lists, its what jumps out.

2. The Description
This should be a short intro. Sometimes you can have this displayed on search lists, but be aware if you are creating such a short description that you should keep this to circa 40 words or less otherwise it will likely (a) get cut off on most job boards that allow this sort of facility, and (b) candidates wont be scan through it adequately when looking down a list. When crafting a full description (you will need more than 40 words) do however also keep it succinct. You are preparing a job advert not a full “Job Description”. However do remember SKA: Skills, Knowledge, Attributes. Make sure you include what you are looking for in your ideal applicant.

Worth mentioning here - you are selling the role not the organisation. If the candidate likes the role they will look at your website. Hopefully you have one of our career/vacancy portals in which case you have a facility that can help sell your organisation very effectively.

3. Salary
This is one of my favourites. In NZ and Australia very few adverts list salary. However research I have seen in the UK where listing a salary is the norm suggests vacancies receive 20% more applications when a fixed salary is stated than where it if left as hidden or negotiable. Personally I think it is a more honest approach, you do have to wonder what organisations are trying to hide by not listing the salary...

Whilst we are on the subject of reward; do state any other key benefits or perks. Do they get a company car? Flexible Working? Day Care? Pensions? Health etc. We always try and persuade clients to put sections outlining these on their career/vacancy sites but it can be worth putting the key ones in adverts especially the adverts on job boards - talking of which - see next point...

4. JobBoards
Don’t feel that the copy going on a job board has to exactly match what goes on your careers/vacancy portal. Candidates will have some interest by the time they get to your website and its there that you should give them a bit more information. The task of the jobboard is to get them there. There are lots of JobBoards around so do use the ones that let you hyperlink out to your site i.e when the candidate presses the Apply button they are taken to your careers/vacancy website and its application form. You have considerably more facilities for screening applicants and setting the right expectations once they are on your careers/vacancy portal. The advert copy on the jobboard just has to get them there. You don’t need a full Job Description or an overly long advert outlining every nuance of the role on the jobboards advert. Think of it as selling the position, you can spell it out in more depth once they are on your site.

5. Screening
Use the screening facilities you have on your career/vacancy portal. Simple Yes/No questions that you get on a jobboard don’t work now - and arguably never did. Its too easy for candidates to just click on what they think the right answers are. Multiple choice questions require more thought, and from a study we saw some years ago tend to elicit more honest responses. Adding some questions where a free-text response is required also works well as it makes candidates think through if they are right for the position rather than just taking a “spray and pray” approach.

6. Less is more
Hope I wont get into trouble from the HR Taliban here. I am not suggesting you don’t include all pertinent info when you advertise jobs. However simply adding everything you have got including the 5 page Job Descriptions at the advert stage does nobody any favours. Use your careers/vacancy portal to articulate what your organisation and your typical roles are all about. It is a much more easily absorbed way of communicating and reflects well on you as an organisation and the importance you place on people by taking some time to explain it. It is also very easy to do and once done saves much time when you are creating your adverts. So keep the actual advert description and your SKAs (Skills, Knowledge, Attributes) short and sweet.

Last and most importantly
This last but most important point is that the key to writing effective job adverts is to understand what you are looking for with your candidates. Sounds obvious but many recruiters and hiring managers sadly don’t spend much time or energy in really trying to understand what SKA’s they really need and how to appeal to those candidates who have them. So, spend the time. Do a needs analysis. Don’t assume the last job spec you had for this role is still relevant - or appropriate. The business environment is fast moving and this is also true for recruiting too. Do your research on what others are offering, what the demand is and where to advertise.

Hope you find these pearls useful. I have had two good examples of job adverts supplied after the last post so will feature them in the next couple of weeks.