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Breaking the Job Ad mould - Less advert, more invitation

Back when Britain truly was a nation of shopkeepers, a simple 'Help Wanted' sign displayed in a storefront window was the only job ad needed to secure the right candidate. As a message, rudimentary though it was, it worked. Clear, concise and with context, it simply cut to the chase - we need you.

This was the perfect scenario for all involved. The lovely shopkeeper lured their potential ‘help’ in, able to talk and observe any interested parties. The keen candidates were able to hop into the shop, get a feel for the environment and meet the boss. In short, these were the perfect conditions for a swift hire.

The extinction of ‘going with your gut’

If only life was as simple for the modern professional recruiter. Today’s recruitment landscape is much more cluttered. The simplicity and person-to-person interaction of ‘come and check out the job I have going’ is dying out. Online job boards, social media initiatives and recruitment consultancies themselves have diluted the importance of appealing to the human side of searching for a calling - the curiosity, the chemistry and the going with your gut.

In the world of marketing, we’ve all been taught to take things with a pinch of salt. We can’t take things at face value when we’re perched at a computer. Recruiters have to get creative with their job adverts, they need to better communicate what it’s really like to work somewhere.

This demands something many recruiters out there are pretty poor at - mastering the role of the written word.

Say it all and say it LOUDLY!

The war for talent has never been so strong, we are currently sitting at a 44 year all time low of a skill shortage, meaning the humble job ad needs to work like a trouper to be heard and to be effective. It’s too easy to think that putting together a generic overview of the employer and simply listing skills is enough. All too often cookie cutter job ads that rigidly follow this format come off as a list of demands, ‘‘Thou must be this, thou must be that or you’re toast’’. Powerful yes, appealing no.

To truly engage candidates, job ads must have personality. It has to reflect values, point of views and the character of those who work there. In fact, try not to think of them as job ads at all. They’re invitations to connect and converse. It’s easy to forget that employment is contractual - between candidates and companies. In order for recruiters to do the best job possible, and to reach the top candidates, they need to make their propositions sound as compelling as possible.

  • Language is your friend - Don’t fear experimenting or playing with language. As long as you know what you’re trying to say and to whom, the rest is up for grabs. Take this as an opportunity to master tone, it’s a much underutilised marketing tool.
  • Enlist your current employees - They know the company and they were candidates once too. Get them to help you create an inviting proposition that focuses on what they wanted to hear. Incentives, group activities and flexible lifestyle features are all just as important as skills and salary.
  • Play with format - Don’t opt for bog standard. Be inventive and on-brand with your design. Use colours and entice with visual personality as well as the written kind

Job ads don’t just meet a short-term need. They represent who you are as a recruiter, employer and company. Crafting, not just mashing together, a complete culture overview is investing in the talent out there. You’re not just appealing to one candidate at a time, you’re appealing to a future workforce worth of ‘em! Today’s rejected graduate could be your biggest brand advocate in ten years’ time.

Let’s face it, happy staff are the best advert a company could wish for. That’s what anyone writing a job ad should be focused on – why people love working there and why candidates will love it too.

All too often cookie cutter job ads that rigidly follow this format come off as a list of demands, ‘‘Thou must be this, thou must be that or you’re toast’’. Powerful yes, appealing no.