Businesses these days can pick up job candidates through a bewildering number of online channels. Successful job matches have been made through LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and even Tinder (so we’ve been told!) However, there is still no substitute for the traditional job advert. The majority of candidates, when looking for a new position, will either head for one of the big name jobsites, such as Fish4Jobs or Total Jobs, a specialist industry site such as Third Sector Jobs, or go directly to a recruitment agency. On these highly competitive forums, it is critical that your job position stands out and can grab the attention of the best recruits.

These are the six keys to writing a winning job posting:

1) A strong title

You need to grab your applicant’s attention immediately through a strong, catchy title. Most people make a decision based on the title before even opening the ad. So it pays to make it count. What constitutes a strong title?

Firstly the job title should clearly describe what you expect the recruit to do; the days of ambiguous and convoluted job titles have fortunately slipped into history. People are generally turned off by jargon and want to know what is honestly expected of them. Secondly, the title shouldn’t be too long. This is especially important as many of your viewers will be reading your ad via their mobile device. Keep the job title short and snappy, to three or four words at the most.

2) A concise, appealing job description

Once you’ve persuaded a candidate to open the advert through a good title, you now have only a few precious paragraphs to make them fall in love with the position and your business. Go for it. Don’t waste any time – in the very first paragraph you should clearly state where the job is based, and then go on to describe what the job position is. Next, spell out the core responsibilities of the role, using no more than a few concise bullet points. Use plain English, keep your sentences concise and avoid jargon as far as possible. You’re not trying to bedazzle anyone here, but to set expectations.

3) Experience and qualifications

By now the candidate should know if they are interested or not. Now you should let them know exactly what you’re looking for, so they know if they fit the bill. You can break this down into two subsections; experience/characteristics and qualifications. Be precise about what you want and lay out about three bullet points for each. Qualifications should specify the minimum level that you require for the job. For instance, if you need your next candidate to have a Masters degree in marketing then specify that clearly, but be careful not to add too many qualifying factors unless they are really necessary, or you risk putting off good candidates by making them feel they’re unqualified for your role.

When it comes to personal characteristics, avoid generalities if possible, such as ‘self-motivated’, ‘ambitious’, or ‘hard-working’. These are hard to define and broad enough so that most people could use them to describe themselves – and are therefore effectively meaningless in a job advert.

4) Pay and work benefits

You should also clearly highlight the remuneration, work benefits and any perks that come with the position. Pay is important, of course and should be clearly stated, as should annual leave entitlement. You should also mention other benefits that may attract a candidate, such as flexible home working, car allowance, company pension, Private healthcare, discounted gym membership and so on. These can also include ‘soft benefits’, such as breakout areas, Xbox room, free coffee machine and doughnuts on a Friday. Candidates will be more attracted to a company they feel cares about their well-being as an individual, rather than someone who sees them simply as a resource. This leads us to the next point…

5) Sell your company!

Candidates are far more discerning and have a greater luxury of choice in job positions than previous generations had. You need to give your applicants compelling reasons why they would want to work for you rather than one of your competitors, over and above the money and benefits they get. Talk about your company vision, your business philosophy, the background to your business and your position in the industry you work in. If you have any awards or a strong professional reputation, mention them here. This section should paint a picture of your business and draw them in as if they were a prospective customer.

6) Call to action

Continuing the sales analogy, wrap up your job ad with a compelling call to action. This should inform the candidate what action they need to take next, for instance filling an online application form, submitting a cover letter and CV, or calling a recruitment line. It should also encourage the applicant to get in touch with a personal invitation to take the next step, and leave them with a feeling of urgency that they should take action soon.

Your job advert is your greatest asset in attracting fantastic candidates for your business. By paying attention to these six key points, you can create a succinct and appealing ad that reels in the best applicants and stands out from the crowd.


Tricia Hay

Tricia Hay is Owner, Director of First Base Employment Limited