01.04.2019

Why your job adverts are unsuccessful and what you can do about it

Job adverts - Nobody likes writing them and candidates hate reading them. Let’s face it, having a 3-page document on what a client is looking for is neither engaging or interesting for a potential applicant.

Why your job adverts are unsuccessful and what you can do about it

The secrets of writing a good job advert

With more than 65% of candidate searches and applications being conducted on a smart device it is more important than ever to structure your job advert in a clear and succinct way. Candidates want to learn as much information about the role and company in the shortest time frame possible so we’ve put together some tips and advice about writing job adverts that may come in handy.

Always try and stick with the 3 Rs – Responsibilities, Requirements and Rewards. If you cover the basics, the rest will follow.

What does the candidate want to know?

  • What skills and experience are you looking for?
  • Overview of the position
  • Overview of the company
  • What benefits/rewards are on offer
  • How to apply

Start with a killer job title

The title should accurately describe the role using terminology most likely to be used by job seekers, e.g. Developer, not Coding Ninja. For a skill-focused role always include the key skill, e.g. Senior PHP Developer, not just Senior Developer.

Summary

The start of the job description can be the most important area as you want to grab your audience’s attention. The more energy and thought you put into writing this, the better chance you have of attracting the high achieving from the start. Reiterate the job title, key skills, salary, location and most attractive part of the role to ensure the candidate is captivated.

About the role (Responsibilities)

Really sell the position. Try to limit yourself to 3-5 key responsibilities of the role and include enough detail to make candidates eager to find out more. Include what the candidate will be doing on a day to day basis, what will they be responsible for and where they would sit within the team.

Key skills (Requirements)

Get the hiring manager on board. All too often the HR/recruitment team list essential criteria that is misaligned with what the technical managers are actually looking for.

If the candidate feels their skill sets match up, or it’s an area they want to improve on they will keep reading. We’ve spoken with many candidates over the years who skip straight to skills as they often get hit by blocks of jargon beforehand which may be irrelevant to them.

Secondary skills

Try not to bombard candidates with a huge list of desirable, but non-essential skills. Instead explain the different technologies and skills that a candidate could be exposed to. Candidates will be pleased to know there are plenty of new things they can learn.

About the company (Rewards)

In such a competitive market, where candidates have many opportunities to choose from you really need to stand out from the crowd. Tell them why people like to work at your company, what you offer above the rest, and put emphasis on culture and company environment. Too often or not you'll see job adverts starting with “We are a market leading company in X sector “– BORING!

Another thing that is often overlooked is location. Cardiff for example is a big place, this could be in the centre of town or on the outskirts, where some candidates may find it inaccessible. You could add what amenities are near by such as a train station, on site parking and close to several dining options.

Finally tell the candidate why they should apply and give them a call to action. Urge the reader to act and apply today!

More hints, tips, dos and don’ts

  • Use generic industry wide job titles rather than titles that are only used within a specific organisation
  • Repeat the job title and keywords/skill sets several times throughout the advert for maximum exposure on job boards and search engines
  • Always display the salary where ever possible – Did you know applications per vacancy are 68% higher on average for roles that state a salary?! (Jobsite.co.uk)
  • Include benefits like holidays, bonuses and flexible/working options
  • Clarify what the job entails 

Another method we've seen several local clients using is the Impact Description which seems to be a popular method adopted in the US. Each Impact Description is made up of two key parts:

1. The outcomes a new hire would be expected to achieve at specific milestones (month 1, 3, 6, then 12).

2. What the new hire would be expected to know already and help others with (labelled as “Teach”), vs. what they would have to develop on the job (labelled as “Learn”).

These less traditional job descriptions seem to be receiving a lot of positive feedback, and applicants appreciate that the expectations are clear. You can check out an example here.

If you're hiring and looking to write a catchy job description, please get in touch. We are more than happy to write this for you or provide feedback based on our expertise.

Attraction, retention and engagement

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