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How to write the perfect job advert

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Ah, the perfect job advert: the unicorn of the recruitment world.

Does it exist? And if so, where can you find one?

But seriously – why is writing a job advert so difficult? Surely you just put the job description together with the company benefits, add some cool and quirky language to entice those Gen Z applicants and away you go.


Not quite. In fact, if the perfect job ad really was a unicorn, you can bet that most recruiters would fall off it.

You know how it goes: you’ve got a great EVP, a healthy company culture, desirable benefits and a competitive salary – but you post your job ad and the silence is deafening.

Well, here are my basic steps for writing a job ad that does your company justice and is most likely to attract the right candidates for your roles. And there's not a stodgy job description in sight.

…Define your target audience

Before you even think about writing a job ad, you need to stop. Think for a second: who are you actually writing for?

Who would you like to apply to this role? How do they fit into your organisation? What are their values? Where do they live?

To target your job ad to the right people, you first need to define your audience by creating candidate personas. These are profiles of the kind of people you’d like to attract to the role.

What are their skills? What qualifications do they have? How do they behave and speak? What are their values? You need to consider all of this before you write your job advert, simply because you want to invite the right kind of people to your company. That way you’ll not only attract better candidates, but they’ll be more likely to stick around after you’ve hired them.

TIP: survey existing employees about what their role entails and what they like/don’t like about the company. Now ask external candidates what they think via social media, so you can build both an internal and an external perception of your business.

…Get the job title right

Once you’ve worked out who you want to attract, you need to come up with a job title. Here’s where you need to stop thinking like you’ve always thought and take a step back.

Just because you’ve always used a certain job title doesn’t mean this is the best one for your potential candidate. So take a check.

Job titles should be:

Relevant (i.e. they describe what the role actually is)

Searchable (no one’s googling ‘Marketing Ninja’, so don’t even think about using it), and

Simple (in other words, avoid job titles that are more than three words)

TIP: Research the keywords in your job title with Google’s Keyword Planner.

    …Make it gender neutral

    According to a study by the American Psychological Association, using certain words in your job adverts can create a gender bias – even if you didn’t mean to.

    Removing these words and phrases has a huge impact on the number of applicants you receive. In fact, another study by ZipRecruiter showed that adverts without gender-biased language get on average 42% more responses.

    That’s huge.

    So if you’re serious about diversity, you’ll want to look again at the language you’re using in your ads. You might be turning female applicants off simply by your choice of words.

    TIP: Use our free gender decoder to strip out any gendered language from your adverts.

    …Entice the candidate with the best stuff first

    What’s your company’s USP? Is it your benefits, the way you make a difference, the training and career progression? Whatever it is, don’t hide it halfway down your job ad – or worse, right at the bottom of the page.

    The golden rule of writing more or less anything is: start with the most interesting stuff.

    So if you’ve got a particularly amazing set of perks and benefits, why not point that out up top? If career development’s your thing, entice the candidate with that from the start.

    Whatever the USP of your organisation is, define it, develop it and use it in your job ads.

    TIP: If you haven’t already, think about developing your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to show candidates the unique essence of your organisation.

    …Be honest and engaging about the role’s responsibilities

    This is the point in the job ad where many employers simply copy and paste the internal job description and hope for the best.

    But you need to work harder than that. You need to list the top-level responsibilities of the role in a way that’s inspiring, not boring and full of jargon.

    So make the list of responsibilities sound like something the candidate could aspire to – and don’t forget to highlight the result of the task, not just the task itself. That way the candidate can see that you’re driven by making a difference to your customers and clients, not just ticking corporate boxes.

    TIP: Don’t list the full job description in your job ad! No one needs to know everything about the role before they’re willing to apply.

    …FInish with a compelling call to action

    Finally, think carefully about how you end your job ad. What do you want the candidate to do next? Have you made the process clear to them? If there’s more than one round of interviews, for example, now’s the time to let them know. The clearer you make the application process, the less likely you are to lose candidates after application.

    And remember: one of them could have been the perfect employee.

    Use a clear call to action and include a visible ‘Apply now’ button. It’s also a good idea to include an email address or even embed a chatbot on your career site to answer any questions or allow candidates to find out more.

    TIP: If you’re posting on job boards, think again about providing contact details as these are often stripped out so the candidate has to apply through the job board.

    In summary

    Remember: people buy with emotion and justify with logic. The same is true with job ads. Emotion is a powerful motivator, and yet it’s something many employers don’t prioritise when posting their roles.

    Your job ads should be bursting with enthusiasm, contain relevant and easy-to-read information and – most importantly – sell the lifestyle and culture of your company to its future employees.

    If your candidates can envisage how they fit into your organisation, you’ll be on your way to getting the best talent for your business.

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