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7 common mistakes to avoid when writing job adverts

2 Dec 2020

Hays’ Travis O’Rourke outlines what not to include when creating job adverts for potential new recruits.

When considering applying for a new job, active jobseekers will be attracted to brands that provide a positive experience from their first point of contact – and that includes the job adverts they read at the beginning of the application process.

So, organisations must promote their vacancies to professionals by writing job adverts in compelling and meaningful ways if they are to engage and attract them successfully. To make your advert stand out from the crowd, here are a few things to avoid.

1. A convoluted title

A job title like ‘customer experience executive’, for example, doesn’t necessarily tell the candidate very much about what kind of job it actually is. Not only is this job title uncommon – meaning candidates are unlikely to search for it – but without context, it’s tricky to tell what this role relates to.

Look out for spelling mistakes in your job titles too, as this would look unprofessional and could negatively impact on the likelihood of the advert appearing high up in the results on search engines. Another common practice among organisations is to omit any salary range, which may leave candidates unclear about the seniority of the role and deter potentially suitable people from applying.

2. Non-specific descriptions and buzzwords

Does your overview of your brand’s vacancy clearly communicate what the position actually is? Or are you instead simply filling up the space with vague buzzwords and clichés, like ‘open and collaborative culture’ or ‘a forward-thinking company’?

Don’t leave candidates in any doubt about the purpose of this job and what part they would be playing within your organisation if they took on the role.

3. A confusing company story

Many organisations are guilty of describing themselves in job adverts in ways that those outside the company cannot easily understand. In the process, they might fail to communicate insightful information about the business’s culture or values, which is much more interesting to candidates.

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In addition, you might fall into the trap of simply listing core aspects of your company such as location, company history, services and products, without providing any real insight into your organisation. Susie Timlin, chief operating officer at UK Government Investments, suggests you should include your industry standing, the direction of your company objectives, and any great benefits that come with working for you.

4. Generic duties

Does the list of duties in your organisation’s job advert give meaningful insight into the role’s broader purpose? Does it detail how the successful candidate would be contributing towards organisational objectives? Or is it a short and uninspiring list that doesn’t paint a transparent picture of what the candidate’s typical day would look like?

As I touched on above, it’s also important to be wary of negative words such as ‘must’. Instead, focus on including details that prospective employees are likely to find attractive, such as benefits and development opportunities.

5. Vague requirements

Organisations sometimes make their job descriptions too brief and the skills mentioned too generic, while failing to shed light on the wider context of what the given role entails. This may compromise the ability of the employer to attract applications from candidates with the skills required to do the job.

Some job adverts also lack any indication of how many years of experience are required, how a stated qualification – such as a degree – relates to the job, and which degree subject area – such as the arts or sciences – is preferred.

6. Not enough information on flexible working options

The ongoing challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic make it all the more crucial to inform candidates about your organisation’s remote and hybrid working policies when writing job adverts.

Depending on their personal circumstances, many candidates are likely to be thankful for potential employers showing flexibility on the possibility of home working. So, if your job adverts make no reference to remote or flexible working at all, you could be hampering your ability to attract the best candidates.

7. A poor closing statement

You won’t want the way you sign off your job adverts to look careless or to give the impression of a lack of consideration towards candidates who reach out to you. Nor will you wish even a semblance of unprofessionalism to be evident – for example, the use of a generic Gmail or Outlook email address instead of a company one.

Your job advert should end with a closing statement that encapsulates the best parts of your role and organisation and expresses an eagerness to continue the conversation after application. Sell your company further by including links to any website pages or videos that illustrate what it’s like to work with you.

By Travis O’Rourke

Travis O’Rourke is president of Hays Canada. A version of this article previously appeared on the Hays Viewpoint blog.

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