Frustrated HR managing trying to write job advert
Image: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock

3 mistakes you should avoid when writing a job advert

4 Jan 2017

The new year is typically a time for growth and change. For businesses, that can mean hiring for a slew of new roles. Hays’ Susie Timlin offers some tips on crafting the perfect job advert.

The time has come for you to hire for a new position within your department, and you are keen to attract the best talent possible. You have a clear image of the ideal recruit, from their industry experience and expertise to their personality, professional conduct and cultural fit.

While you can use these ideals as deciding factors during the interview stage, how can you make sure you get the right calibre of candidates through the door in the first place?

It all boils down to your job advert.

The job advert is the first – and maybe last – impression jobseekers will have of your vacancy. This is the point where they will decide to either start working on their application, or close the tab and move on to the next one.

Unfortunately, many hiring managers fall at the first hurdle. Although they may have the assistance of HR or a recruiting expert to help draft the job advert, only the hiring manager has the inside knowledge on what type of candidate is needed for the team, as well as the selling points they can mention to position the company as an employer of choice.

So, where are hiring managers going wrong when writing a job advert and what can you learn from their mistakes?

Mistake #1: The job title is misleading

Think about the function and seniority of the role, and use these for your job title – junior brand executive, for example. The suitable applicants will be searching for these key words, and this is the only way to ensure that your advert comes up in their search. This simple trick will drive more relevant visitors to your advert.

While this does sound obvious, some organisations will advertise elusive or misleading job titles, like brand architect. While this organisation may be looking for somebody junior to help manage the brands within their organisation, they might attract someone too senior who is used to directing a brand strategy, or even some architects typing in this keyword.

‘A savvy jobseeker will want to answer the most simple, but important, question of all: Will this move make me happy and fulfilled?’

Another example could be somebody advertising the role of account manager. Again, while this organisation is actually looking for a junior sales executive, this listing will come up in an accountant’s or manager’s job search.

There are some companies that take it one step further and come up with the wackiest title possible in the hopes of catching the candidate’s attention. Once again, job titles that are not clear on function and seniority – social media superstar or website wizard – will cause the advert to rank below and gain less traction than ads for a junior social media executive or senior web analyst.

In each of these examples, the recruiter runs the risk of driving irrelevant traffic – and possibly even irrelevant applications – to their advert. Meanwhile, relevant jobseekers are viewing ads that use simpler, clearer language.

In short, if you want your job advert to appear in the early search results of your desired applicant, keep the title simple, keyword rich and reflective of function and seniority.

Mistake #2: Your company doesn’t sound compelling

When describing your organisation, it is easy to just include the core aspects like location, company history, services and products, and so on.

Although this information is essential, you also need to think about the factors that make you the employer of choice. Any talented, well-suited jobseeker will quite likely have a number of options in front of them. Why should they come and work for your company?

Remember to include the below, in order to give your organisation a competitive edge:

  • Industry standing: Are you leaders in your field? Do industry bodies come to you for expert advice? Are there any PR highlights or accolades that set you apart?
  • Direction of the company: What’s next for your organisation? Do you have any strategic objectives? Are you growing financially or geographically?
  • Benefits: Are there any great benefits that come with working for you? Do you offer employee shares schemes? Corporate discounts? Private healthcare? Pension schemes?

This sort of information can be a deciding factor for jobseekers choosing between you and your competitors. Don’t lose out because you have undersold your company.

Mistake #3: The job specification sounds uninspiring

A brilliant organisation will certainly attract the right type of jobseeker. The role itself, however, is what will truly seal the deal.

A savvy jobseeker will want to be able to picture their day-to-day life at your company and answer the most simple, but important, question of all: “Will this move make me happy and fulfilled?”

You can answer this question by including the below information:

  • A typical working day: In addition to outlining the core roles and responsibilities, bring the job specification to life by also describing a typical working day in the role. Which processes and workflows will the employee follow? What is the line of reporting? If possible, talk to the current person doing this job and ask what they think are the best or most vital aspects to include.
  • Their team: Who will they be working with and how would you describe the culture of the team? Are they friendly, sociable, supportive or fast-paced? This is particularly important – describing the workplace culture will help you to attract applicants who would integrate and collaborate well with your team.
  • Their purpose: How does their role fit into the wider objectives of your business? It is important that the jobseeker is able to understand what the purpose of this role is on a larger scale. The opportunity to make a difference somewhere can really spark their enthusiasm.
  • Progression opportunities: Any high-calibre jobseeker will also be considering how this role will enhance their career. What are the training opportunities here? Will you help them to manage their progression and objectives? Is there the possibility to travel or work overseas? In today’s global job market, many employees say they would want to work abroad at some point during their career, so this could be make or break for some jobseekers.

Happiness and fulfilment is essential for both the jobseeker and you, the hiring manager. If the jobseeker accepts a role where they feel unhappy and stagnant in their career, this will affect their performance and their loyalty to the company, as well as wider team morale. By including the above, you are deterring this type of jobseeker and attracting the right ones.

There are common errors that hiring managers make when writing a job advert, from creating a misleading job title to omitting important information about the benefits, the company and the role. By following the above advice, you will not only avoid these mistakes, you will also ensure that you only attract high-calibre, well-suited jobseekers to your advert and, hopefully, to the interview room.

By Susie Timlin

Susie Timlin is global director of people and culture for Hays Talent Solutions, responsible for developing Hays’ employer brand and finding the right people to help grow the business.

A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog.

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