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Six tips on how to write a job ad

Job ads are an important part of the recruitment process. Getting your recruitment right and hiring the best candidates, first go, has benefits that will resonate through your organisation. Good recruitment saves time, minimises staff turnover and benefits productivity and staff morale. All of these factors have a positive effect on service delivery.

Your job ad is the first contact you have with a potential employee. An effective ad is the starting point for the smooth recruitment of the best possible candidate.

Here are Job Seeker’s top six tips for creating an effective job ad:


1. Do your research

Before you begin recruiting you should have a good understanding of why, where, who, what, and how.

Why are you recruiting? Think about what this position brings to your organisation.

Where will this new recruit work? Not just in a physical sense, but in terms of the kind of workplace. Be clear on the objectives, mission and vision of your organisation, and consider its culture. Describing your workplace will help candidates decide if they want to work for you, and will make their transition easier.

Who are you looking for? Think about what kind of person will excel at the job and be a good fit with the existing team. List essential knowledge and experience as well as traits that could benefit them. Hiring people who will fit in with your culture as well as do the job will improve staff retention.

What will the position entail? What is expected of the employee in this position? Where do they fit in the overall structure? What are the goals and duties? Answering these questions can help you write an effective position description so that your new recruit knows from the outset what is expected of them.

How will you go about recruiting? Identify the process and set out a timeline. This will help you get the right people involved and set aside the right amount of time for advertising, recruiting, screening and hiring. Don’t forget to brush-up on your discrimination legislation to cover yourself during screening.


2. Use the funnel effect


An effective job ad can be used as an initial screening process – think of it as a funnel that attracts and engages a wide range of candidates, informs them of what is expected, thereby narrowing the pool of applicants as they filter themselves in or out of the application process. A clear call to action allows suitable candidates to reach you.


3. Utilise each component of the ad

All job websites follow a similar structure – job title, summary, description and a call to action. These components can help you create the funnel effect, attracting, engaging, filtering and motivating your candidates.

Job title: Should be catchy, but not crazy. The job seeker will usually search for a job title so you need to be sure you’ll show up in the results. However, you will be up against similar jobs, so an enticing title can help distinguish your position from the pack.

Job summary: The job summary is the information the job seeker uses to decide whether or not to engage with your ad. It is the part of the ad that shows up in search results – this means your summary is in competition with other positions. Include compelling information that gives the candidate a reason to choose your ad. 

Job description: This is the main part of your job ad. The description should include all the necessary information, but not so much that a reader disengages. A useful checklist to follow includes information about:

  1. The organisation – what you do, what’s great about it and what kind of workplace culture you have.
  2. The job – don’t write the whole PD here (although you can include it as an attachment) but give a good overview of what is expected.
  3. The ideal candidate – outline what is essential knowledge/experience, what is nice to have, and what traits and personality you are looking for.
  4. Benefits – anybody reading any kind of ad wants to know, “What’s in it for me?”

Call to action: Get those candidates to apply, remembering to include clear instructions. Application requirements can be a useful screening process too – the first sign of how the applicants follow instructions.



4. Use language to your advantage

The language you use should be appropriate and engaging. Language can convey what sort of organisation you are and what kind of person you are looking for, as well as keeping people interested through to the end of the ad. Make sure the information you are communicating is useful, and cut out unnecessary waffle.

Use action words to start your sentences – this will help keep your communication succinct and your readers engaged. Also, be careful not to overdo it. Job seekers read tons of ads and know when a job isn’t “The job of a lifetime!”


5. Make it pretty

We’re not talking frills and clipart here, but good formatting helps engage your readers. Internet users are visually driven and have short attention spans. Make the ad scannable by using subheadings, bullet points and white space.

When you post on Job Seeker you can brand your ad with a logo and include a location to generate a map. Visual information is easy to absorb and breaks up the screen.


6. Put yourself in their shoes

A simple way to tell if your job ad is going to be effective is to read it from the point of view of the job seeker. We’ve all looked for work before and we know what turns us off a job, and what makes us want to apply. Reread the ad as the job seeker and see if you are compelled to hit that apply button.