• Mark Pearce

Employers: How to write great job adverts that attract hidden applicants

Updated: Jun 8, 2018

Boring, self-promotional job adverts. They’re everywhere.

You’ve probably seen a few today. They begin like this:

“We are a leading supplier.”

“We turn over $500m per annum.”

“Our company is proudly successful….” 

Then you’ll see a shopping list of demands and responsibilities:

“The successful incumbent must have…”

“To apply for this job you need…”

“25 years’ experience as a minimum..”

Before finally closing out with a few words about ‘competitive salary’ and ‘apply now for this exciting job.’

You might think these ads look good, however, there is one fundamental problem - they don’t appeal to the self interests of the people you're trying to attract.

Does a job applicant want to know how much you turn over or read the same headline most other companies use about being a leading company? Not really.  

The worst part about this? Recruiters who copy and paste your job ad word for word as their own. These are the same recruiters you've hired to sell your jobs.

If they show this much creativity, how will they sell your jobs face-to-face?

Quick tip: Copy and paste a sentence from your job ad into Google and see how many identical ads appear. It’s not great for your website ranking and SEO. If you're using recruiters, ask them to be more creative, take the ads down and repost once you've checked you're happy with their new ad.  

This recruitment blog will guide you through some simple steps to writing a great job advert that will appeal to the people you want to hire. 

Who are you really writing for? 

Remember, you are not the audience you’re writing for. The first question you should ask yourself is this:

Is your ad being written with a specific audience in mind? 

Your ad should be written for the people you’re trying to attract. No one else. 

Start with a powerful headline that grabs attention

What headline are you using to stop someone from skimming past your ad? How will you get them to take notice and read your ad?

“Project Manager - Mining” may get a mining project manager to look at your ad, but will she feel compelled to continue reading?

Why not use a headline like:

“Still managing small mining projects that won’t get you that promotion?”   

I, we versus you.

Swap I and we with you as much as you possibly can. Why? Try reading your advert from your audience’s perspective. 

If you’re reading more about your own company than what’s in the job for you, it’s time to swap your language. 

Making your job ad more appealing

If you’ve been struggling to hire someone for your company, ask yourself, “Why would this person leave one of our competitors and come and work for us?”

You’ll probably think of lots of things about how large your company is or what duties you want someone to perform, however these things are unlikely to help you fill the job you’ve had open 3 months.

Here’s a simple tip:

Sit down with everyone whose jobs are impacted by the position you’re trying to fill. Ask them what gets them excited about their work and their boss - and what else they'll be able to achieve when you hire this person. Pop this info in your job ad. 

Death by responsibilities and qualifications 

Why not tell your audience a story about a problem you have and how it needs to be fixed. There’s a good chance someone with the qualifications and responsibilities you need will know how to fix your problem. 

Be more creative than throwing a shopping list of demands in your job ad. 

What else will appeal?

Job applicants want to speak with employers who can give them a clear insight into the job, culture, strategies, differentiators and why you're a great place to work.

These applicants want to know where they can go with you. Instead of telling them they can progress their career with you, tell them how they can.

Tell them what this looks like and how long it will take them to get there. 

Benefits, not features. 

Do you offer flexible working arrangements? So do hundreds of employers. While flexible working arrangements is a feature, it doesn’t describe a benefit to your audience. 

“Escape the rush hour traffic every day by working 1-2 days a week from home.”

There’s a benefit. 

Call to action

Your call to action should be better than a generic ‘apply by clicking here.’ Give your reader a reason to apply to your job.

“Push your technical skills to the next level and help us fix this problem. Call us today on….”

Other questions to ask yourself:

  • Is your ad authentic or does it look like 95% of the ads posted online?

  • Are you using words like ‘utilise’ when ‘use’ would do? Use words you’d use in conversation around the office. Unless you follow a Dickensian code of conduct in your office, you wouldn’t talk about ‘synergising strategies’ all day. 

  • Has your ad been written like you’re speaking 1-to-1 with the person you want to attract, or are you broadcasting your message to hundreds? Get close and personal with the person you want. Imagine they’re sat across your desk as you write your ad.

The acid test

Want to know if your ad measures up? There’s one way to find out. 

Ask yourself if you would apply to one of your own job adverts - or at least be a little intrigued. 

It pays to be different. It pays to write for the people you want to hire. 95% of job ads look stuffy and pompous. They also attract more applicants that aren’t right for the job than those who are. 

It’s not hard for you to stand out and attract hidden applicants if you follow these simple tips. 

Thank you for reading. We hope you've found this blog helpful.

What’s next?

  1. Hit a glass ceiling at work or your boss is a micromanaging idiot? Maybe it’s time to look for a better job?

  2. Finding it tough to attract high-performing people to chat with your business?

  3. Neither, however, I’m happy to sign up with 600+ people for future employment and market insights.

Inverse Energy is a recruitment / search consultancy based in Perth, Western Australia with a focus on mid to senior management and leadership jobs - worked on a retained or exclusive basis.