If I see the words ‘We’re hiring!’ in an ad one more time I’ll scream. One of my pet peeves is most recruiter’s inability to write a half decent recruitment advertisement. What chance does a business have of attracting people when they copy this well-worn (out) format?
In this article I’ll rebuff the ads most recruiters, and unfortunately, companies still write, explain why most ads need to change and clarify the elements of a good ad.
If you’re hiring you need the right number of quality candidates. A badly written ad can attract either not enough or too many. Both situations have consequences but a good ad creates a positive flow on effect right through the recruitment process, which means hiring is a lot easier.
So what makes a great ad? For a start, to attract great people your ad needs to differentiate your business as an employer.
To set the scene let’s put our marketing hat on. For reasons unknown people forget that when they’re hiring they are actually marketing their company as an employer. And they are competing for skills against everyone else seeking those same skills.
With an aging workforce skill shortages exist and the same-old tired format isn’t going to cut it if you want to stand out. I recently had a client seeking a Business Analyst, at the time there were 477 ads for a Business Analyst on Seek in Auckland alone and less than 250 Auckland BAs with LinkedIn profiles. Now a lot of those ads would have been duplicated however the client really had to differentiate themselves to get noticed. So what’s so wrong with the traditional recruitment ad? Besides providing a shopping list of what the company wants and nothing of benefit to the candidate most start with talking about the company. They are very much written from the company’s perspective, not the candidate’s and don’t connect with potential applicants using everyday language. ‘We’re hiring’ smacks of this. There is minimal information about why a person would really want the role and the benefits and differentiators of the role and company.
Traditional advertising follows the AIDA approach; the theory being to get, in this order, Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. This is still relevant but simplistic and doesn’t include other factors that are required to make a stand-out job advertisement.
Even if you’re advertising for a role where there are lots of candidates you still need to make sure the right ones are applying. Going through hundreds of unsuitable candidates isn’t fun or an effective use of time for anyone. There will always be ‘serial applicants’ and an applicant tracking system will save you time and energy but a good ad will explain why a certain skill is necessary so people without it are discouraged from applying.
So here are a few do’s and don’ts to consider when writing a recruitment ad:
- Consider the audience, speak to them in a tone and language that is meaningful
- Reorder the ad, start with what’s in it for the candidate, nearer the end introduce the company
- Have clear differentiators and benefits for the role and talk about ‘what’s in it for the candidate’ (known as WIIFM) – benefits could be tools, autonomy, what they will learn or who they will learn from as well as tangible benefits like healthcare or car parking
- Use a ‘Unique Selling Proposition’ (USP) rather than a job title as the headline to stand out from other ads for the same role, for instance ‘Let your career soar’.
- An exemption to using a USP is when you are advertising on LinkedIn or other sites that use algorithms to match candidates; in this case key words are important so use a job title but make sure it is representative of the role’s title in the market
- Speak direct to the candidate, use relaxed language such as ‘you’ll be’, ‘you’ll have’, ideally write as you would speak to create a connection
- Use positive language such as; enjoy, thrive in, revel in, relish a role that…
- Talk about how they can contribute and why the role is important, how they can make a difference through the role
- Explain how a requested skill set will be used, so they understand why it is needed
- Be real – ideally employees want to know they matter, demonstrate in the ad how you do this, and if you don’t make them feel like they matter, then start
- Find the unique points about the company as well as the role; have you been recognised, won awards, what do you customers think about you?
- Use stuffy, formal language or language that is most likely above or below the target audiences understanding
- Provide a shopping list of requested skills and attributes. It smacks of ‘we want’ which is all about the company and even if you head it ‘You must have’ it is still all about you not them
- Use the same job title as one hundred and one other ads on the job boards you’re loading the ad on
- Get too fluffy, you still need to state what the job does
- Underestimate lifestyle and family friendly elements, especially if you’re looking further afield. Do you offer quality of life in your location? Sell to the family, not just the individual
- Say ‘I’m hiring!’ unless you’ve got a fantastic brand with a great pipeline of candidates lining up for work for you
Good marketing practices consider the audience, talk about what’s in it for them, and have a call to action. Recruitment marketing is no different and a great ad provides a flavour of what you’re about as a company, ironically without talking much about you!
A well-written ad can save you time and energy during the recruitment process by attracting more of the right people. If you’re still writing ads with no differentiator stating ‘we want’ then expect to get less and less applicants.
Need some coaching to get your ads right, or have an ad written for you… give Talent Seed a call.