How to write an attention-grabbing job advertisement


What should you consider when writing job advertisements to help your company stand out from the crowd? A recruitment expert offers some advice.

The race for top talent continues. When it comes to recruitment, it’s not only candidates looking to spruik themselves. Employers want to present their company as an attractive proposition to potential employees too.

Amid a recruitment landscape that is increasingly competitive and prone to sharp dips, employers are racing to attract and retain talent in order to come out of the Great Resignation unscathed.

Job advertisements are often the first time a candidate hears about your company, so writing one that catches their attention – and keeps it – is an essential but often overlooked step of the hiring process.

To find out what makes a good job advertisement stand out, HRM spoke with Nicole Gorton, a Director at recruitment agency Robert Half Australia.

1. Consider the candidate

Before putting pen to paper, it’s worth considering what your organisation is offering versus what candidates are seeking, because the two don’t always line up.

“What many companies do is think of what they want, not what the candidate is looking for,” says Gorton. “There is often a disconnect between, ‘Here’s what we want’, ‘Here’s what we need’ and ‘These are the three things that are really important in the role’, versus what is available in the marketplace.”

Therefore, she suggests employers approach hiring from the candidate’s perspective.

Before drafting the job ad, Gorton suggests asking questions such as, ‘What are candidates looking for?’, ‘What would make them respond to a job ad?’ and ‘What would make them want to join your organisation?’

Highlighting the human element could be a good place to start. A recent Gartner survey suggests that 85 per cent of workers think it’s important that their employer sees them as a person, not just as an employee.

So how can you convey this in a job advertisement? Think about what candidates care about, says Gorton. For example, many people are looking for employers that embed diversity and inclusion into the fabric of the company beyond surface-level platitudes, she says. This information could be conveyed upfront.

“Sustainability is definitely something at the forefront of people’s minds,” she says. “Ask questions like, ‘How are we implementing a sustainability program across the organisation?’” With this information in mind, employers can consider how to communicate those values to the job seeker.

2. Start with the essentials

There are three major factors a candidate will consider when reading a job advertisement, according to Gorton.

“They are: company, job and benefits,” she says.

She recommends addressing those factors in bullet point form at the top of the page.

When doing this, she says to keep the following in mind:

    • Branding matters. It won’t matter what you write in the job advertisement if it doesn’t reflect the company’s image. Gorton suggests making your branding clear.“Sharing specifics about the company is crucial to attract candidates who feel aligned to the company’s purpose and vision,” she says.“This is generally done in written format and – to a lesser extent – as a visual/video explainer.“What are [you] doing that goes beyond growth and investment, and overflows into diversity, equity, and inclusion; environmental, social, and corporate governance; and health and wellness?”Tone of voice is also key to attracting the type of applicants you want. It’s best to avoid company-specific jargon, says Gorton.“It’s important the job ad is written in a genuine way as language choices can shape how candidates view the company.”

      For example, if you’re looking to recruit someone into a creative industry, you might opt for casual language or colloquialisms. However, if the industry is more traditional or corporate – say, a legal firm or government body – you should probably use formal language that mimics the communication style expected in the job.

    • Outline success. When applying for a role, candidates will often want to get a clear view of what their career progression could look like at the company.“People want to know what success looks like,” says Gorton.She recommends outlining a series of bullet points that clearly describe how the employee can succeed, using phrasing such as, ‘The successful candidate will be responsible for achieving/implementing/producing X,Y, Z…’”

      If the role is a stepping stone [into] a different role, providing the candidate with that information is key as it can impact their decision-making process,” she says.Even if there are no immediate plans to elevate that specific position in the business, you can make a point of calling out a culture of continuous development and training, or mention that internal promotions are commonplace and encouraged. Help the candidate to see their future with your company.

    • Include details about benefits and culture. Show off what makes your organisation attractive by outlining cultural programs and benefit packages.Recent research from PwC found that employees rank offerings such as pay incentives and bonuses, autonomy and work from home flexibility higher than employers did.Gorton says to think about “what else they’ve got to play for within the organisation. What else does this transition into new work mean to them?”After this initial section, you can move onto sharing a short company blurb and a description of the job itself.  However, remember not to overdo it.

3. Be succinct

No one likes having to scroll through reams of text to get the information they need. A job advertisement is no exception.

“In my 26 years in the industry, I’ve seen job ads become shorter and more succinct,” says Gorton. “You’ve got to mirror the market. If you’re writing really long job ads, you’re going to lose people.”

You need to strike the balance between capturing someone’s attention succinctly without forgetting to share essential information.

“It’s got to be relatively short, but you’ve got to be genuine,” she says. “You’ll get a better response if you’re more specific about work style, office location, salary and benefits.”

4. Stay flexible with expectations

Recruiters might be tempted to overload the position requirements with a wishlist of qualities the candidate should have, but it’s helpful to stay flexible, says Gorton.

“With an unprecedented shortage of qualified professionals, companies need to make a distinction between ‘need-to-have’ and ‘nice-to-have’ skills.

“Hiring a candidate based on their potential is not a plan-B mechanism for recruiting in a talent-short market. It’s a cost and time-saving hiring strategy.”

“Hiring a candidate based on their potential is not a plan-B mechanism for recruiting in a talent-short market. It’s a cost and time-saving hiring strategy.” – Nicole Gorton, Director, Robert Half

One way of doing this is to outline a list of desired qualities.

“Give a disclaimer – ideal but not a prerequisite,” she says. “What recruiters are trying to do is not to rule people out.”

5. Adhere to best practices

Prioritise clear communication and best-practice SEO to cut through the noise of online job postings. Clear and concise copy will help with this.

“Don’t try to overcomplicate the title,” says Gorton. “Keep it simple because candidates look for those simple titles.”

Make it easy for the candidate to decide if the role is relevant to them, says Gorton. They shouldn’t have to decode any of the information you share.

She suggests ditching a flowery job title in favour of the actual title – ‘data analyst’ rather than ‘supreme data interpreter’, for instance.

“Say ‘personal assistant’ rather than ‘office guru’, for example,” says Gorton. “People are not going to search for ‘office guru’.”

6. Know when to talk about money

It’s an age-old recruiting question: should the job advertisement state the salary upfront, or keep it undisclosed?

Job advertisements that include a monetary value will typically attract more applicants and weed out anyone looking for a higher pay grade.

Robert Half generally encourages its clients to include a salary on job advertisements, but if it does more harm than good it might be better to hold off, says Gorton.

“If it’s going to rock the boat internally … when people go, ‘Hang on, I work here and that role is being advertised at that amount’, then don’t do it.”

To avoid workplace conflict, you could opt to state a salary range rather than a specific value, or discuss money at the interview stage instead.

Ultimately, it’s all about projecting an honest image of the company, so both employer and employee are satisfied with the outcome of recruitment.

“The last thing you want to do is hire [someone] and that person ends up not being right for the role,” she says.


The need for the right people with the right skills in the right roles rings true now more than ever. AHRI members looking to understand the importance of workforce planning can attend AHRI’s Workforce Planning short course. Sign up today.


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Dan
Dan
3 months ago

HR ads are amongst the worst in terms of describing the role. Very few HR ads mention the number of employees to be covered by the role. In addition, a “Chief” or “Director” role can cover anything from 50 employees to 10,000. Recruiters – please make sure clients describe the job dimensions and accountabilities. Company websites do not always have the info that let’s you discern the job size.

Linda
Linda
4 days ago

Agree with Dan. Applicants do not want to waste time applying for jobs that have little description of the role so they can match their skills to it. Interesting that this article does not mention required skills and accountabilities. This means the company may get too many candidates to review and add time and cost to the process. Perhaps the company is looking for a talent pool, but say that in the advertisement.

More on HRM
Sorry, no posts matched your criteria.

How to write an attention-grabbing job advertisement


What should you consider when writing job advertisements to help your company stand out from the crowd? A recruitment expert offers some advice.

The race for top talent continues. When it comes to recruitment, it’s not only candidates looking to spruik themselves. Employers want to present their company as an attractive proposition to potential employees too.

Amid a recruitment landscape that is increasingly competitive and prone to sharp dips, employers are racing to attract and retain talent in order to come out of the Great Resignation unscathed.

Job advertisements are often the first time a candidate hears about your company, so writing one that catches their attention – and keeps it – is an essential but often overlooked step of the hiring process.

To find out what makes a good job advertisement stand out, HRM spoke with Nicole Gorton, a Director at recruitment agency Robert Half Australia.

1. Consider the candidate

Before putting pen to paper, it’s worth considering what your organisation is offering versus what candidates are seeking, because the two don’t always line up.

“What many companies do is think of what they want, not what the candidate is looking for,” says Gorton. “There is often a disconnect between, ‘Here’s what we want’, ‘Here’s what we need’ and ‘These are the three things that are really important in the role’, versus what is available in the marketplace.”

Therefore, she suggests employers approach hiring from the candidate’s perspective.

Before drafting the job ad, Gorton suggests asking questions such as, ‘What are candidates looking for?’, ‘What would make them respond to a job ad?’ and ‘What would make them want to join your organisation?’

Highlighting the human element could be a good place to start. A recent Gartner survey suggests that 85 per cent of workers think it’s important that their employer sees them as a person, not just as an employee.

So how can you convey this in a job advertisement? Think about what candidates care about, says Gorton. For example, many people are looking for employers that embed diversity and inclusion into the fabric of the company beyond surface-level platitudes, she says. This information could be conveyed upfront.

“Sustainability is definitely something at the forefront of people’s minds,” she says. “Ask questions like, ‘How are we implementing a sustainability program across the organisation?’” With this information in mind, employers can consider how to communicate those values to the job seeker.

2. Start with the essentials

There are three major factors a candidate will consider when reading a job advertisement, according to Gorton.

“They are: company, job and benefits,” she says.

She recommends addressing those factors in bullet point form at the top of the page.

When doing this, she says to keep the following in mind:

    • Branding matters. It won’t matter what you write in the job advertisement if it doesn’t reflect the company’s image. Gorton suggests making your branding clear.“Sharing specifics about the company is crucial to attract candidates who feel aligned to the company’s purpose and vision,” she says.“This is generally done in written format and – to a lesser extent – as a visual/video explainer.“What are [you] doing that goes beyond growth and investment, and overflows into diversity, equity, and inclusion; environmental, social, and corporate governance; and health and wellness?”Tone of voice is also key to attracting the type of applicants you want. It’s best to avoid company-specific jargon, says Gorton.“It’s important the job ad is written in a genuine way as language choices can shape how candidates view the company.”

      For example, if you’re looking to recruit someone into a creative industry, you might opt for casual language or colloquialisms. However, if the industry is more traditional or corporate – say, a legal firm or government body – you should probably use formal language that mimics the communication style expected in the job.

    • Outline success. When applying for a role, candidates will often want to get a clear view of what their career progression could look like at the company.“People want to know what success looks like,” says Gorton.She recommends outlining a series of bullet points that clearly describe how the employee can succeed, using phrasing such as, ‘The successful candidate will be responsible for achieving/implementing/producing X,Y, Z…’”

      If the role is a stepping stone [into] a different role, providing the candidate with that information is key as it can impact their decision-making process,” she says.Even if there are no immediate plans to elevate that specific position in the business, you can make a point of calling out a culture of continuous development and training, or mention that internal promotions are commonplace and encouraged. Help the candidate to see their future with your company.

    • Include details about benefits and culture. Show off what makes your organisation attractive by outlining cultural programs and benefit packages.Recent research from PwC found that employees rank offerings such as pay incentives and bonuses, autonomy and work from home flexibility higher than employers did.Gorton says to think about “what else they’ve got to play for within the organisation. What else does this transition into new work mean to them?”After this initial section, you can move onto sharing a short company blurb and a description of the job itself.  However, remember not to overdo it.

3. Be succinct

No one likes having to scroll through reams of text to get the information they need. A job advertisement is no exception.

“In my 26 years in the industry, I’ve seen job ads become shorter and more succinct,” says Gorton. “You’ve got to mirror the market. If you’re writing really long job ads, you’re going to lose people.”

You need to strike the balance between capturing someone’s attention succinctly without forgetting to share essential information.

“It’s got to be relatively short, but you’ve got to be genuine,” she says. “You’ll get a better response if you’re more specific about work style, office location, salary and benefits.”

4. Stay flexible with expectations

Recruiters might be tempted to overload the position requirements with a wishlist of qualities the candidate should have, but it’s helpful to stay flexible, says Gorton.

“With an unprecedented shortage of qualified professionals, companies need to make a distinction between ‘need-to-have’ and ‘nice-to-have’ skills.

“Hiring a candidate based on their potential is not a plan-B mechanism for recruiting in a talent-short market. It’s a cost and time-saving hiring strategy.”

“Hiring a candidate based on their potential is not a plan-B mechanism for recruiting in a talent-short market. It’s a cost and time-saving hiring strategy.” – Nicole Gorton, Director, Robert Half

One way of doing this is to outline a list of desired qualities.

“Give a disclaimer – ideal but not a prerequisite,” she says. “What recruiters are trying to do is not to rule people out.”

5. Adhere to best practices

Prioritise clear communication and best-practice SEO to cut through the noise of online job postings. Clear and concise copy will help with this.

“Don’t try to overcomplicate the title,” says Gorton. “Keep it simple because candidates look for those simple titles.”

Make it easy for the candidate to decide if the role is relevant to them, says Gorton. They shouldn’t have to decode any of the information you share.

She suggests ditching a flowery job title in favour of the actual title – ‘data analyst’ rather than ‘supreme data interpreter’, for instance.

“Say ‘personal assistant’ rather than ‘office guru’, for example,” says Gorton. “People are not going to search for ‘office guru’.”

6. Know when to talk about money

It’s an age-old recruiting question: should the job advertisement state the salary upfront, or keep it undisclosed?

Job advertisements that include a monetary value will typically attract more applicants and weed out anyone looking for a higher pay grade.

Robert Half generally encourages its clients to include a salary on job advertisements, but if it does more harm than good it might be better to hold off, says Gorton.

“If it’s going to rock the boat internally … when people go, ‘Hang on, I work here and that role is being advertised at that amount’, then don’t do it.”

To avoid workplace conflict, you could opt to state a salary range rather than a specific value, or discuss money at the interview stage instead.

Ultimately, it’s all about projecting an honest image of the company, so both employer and employee are satisfied with the outcome of recruitment.

“The last thing you want to do is hire [someone] and that person ends up not being right for the role,” she says.


The need for the right people with the right skills in the right roles rings true now more than ever. AHRI members looking to understand the importance of workforce planning can attend AHRI’s Workforce Planning short course. Sign up today.


guest
2 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dan
Dan
3 months ago

HR ads are amongst the worst in terms of describing the role. Very few HR ads mention the number of employees to be covered by the role. In addition, a “Chief” or “Director” role can cover anything from 50 employees to 10,000. Recruiters – please make sure clients describe the job dimensions and accountabilities. Company websites do not always have the info that let’s you discern the job size.

Linda
Linda
4 days ago

Agree with Dan. Applicants do not want to waste time applying for jobs that have little description of the role so they can match their skills to it. Interesting that this article does not mention required skills and accountabilities. This means the company may get too many candidates to review and add time and cost to the process. Perhaps the company is looking for a talent pool, but say that in the advertisement.

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria.
More on HRM