Often, busy HR professionals and hiring managers rely on quickly written or cookie-cutter job ads when they need to fill a position at their company. While creating job ads may seem like a place to prioritize efficiency, this approach typically ends up in considerably more wasted time due to the number of responses from applicants that aren’t a good fit for any number of reasons.
Instead, spend more time up front crafting an accurate and informative job title, job description, outline of expectations and qualifications, required and desired skills and experience, and explanation of the company culture. It’s a smart investment of your time and effort, because the resulting job ad will bring in more applications from candidates who are a good fit, and fewer from those who aren’t.
So, here are some tips for writing job ads that attract strong candidates. Use them to reduce the pile of resumes you must sort through and interviews you must conduct before honing in on that perfect person for the job and for your organization.
How to Write Job Ads to Get the Right Applicants
- Start by thinking about what your ideal candidate wants. As in any type of advertising, you’ll be most successful if you speak directly to your target audience, in their language. You must be truthful, of course, but choose your words and what information you include deliberately to appeal to the perfect person for the position. What do they want to know about the job, what do they want to do in their role, and why are you the right place for them to take the next step in their career?
- Conduct a job analysis before writing the job description. While you probably don’t want to try including an exhaustive list of all responsibilities and tasks, it’s important that you have a solid sense of what’s involved. Talk to the person currently in the position if there is one, and/or to employees who will be supervising and working directly with the new hire.
- Discuss your company culture. How well employees fit in with your culture and values has a great deal to do with your turnover rates and overall success. While it’s helpful to say a bit about what you do in the “About Us” section of your job ad, give potential applicants a solid sense of whether they’ll feel comfortable in the environment and proud to work for you.
- Use a descriptive job title, rather than employing generic terms like “Associate.” The job title is, of course, the first thing most people see when perusing job ads. As such, it has a lot of influence over who decides to read your ad in its entirety and who keeps scrolling along. Keep the title honest, though; never make a job sound more senior than it is. Avoid using creative or unusual words or titles, as people are much less likely to find your job ad via search if you do.
- Identify the big-picture role the candidate will play. Before getting into all the job details, explain where this position fits into the company’s broad mission. Make it clear how the employee or contractor will move the company toward its goals, and what ultimate value they need to bring to the organization to be successful in this.
- Describe the responsibilities and expectations. This doesn’t mean you have to list every task that will be performed, though it’s a good idea to at least convey the primary ones. But rather than getting bogged down in specific tasks, clarify what the person in this role is expected to accomplish on a larger scale. This helps give candidates a better idea of whether this is a role they want, and whether they are truly qualified for it.
- Lay out the requirements for the job. Tell potential applicants exactly what they must have in terms of skills and experience to be considered for the position. Stick to things that are non-negotiable, though. For example, don’t say they must have a degree if you prefer it, but are willing to consider an experienced candidate without one (as so often happens); you may deter a lot of excellent applications this way.
- Address the “nice-to-haves.” Every employer has certain qualifications and traits they’d like to see in their candidates, but that aren’t required to be hired or to succeed in the job. This may be because they can be learned on the job, there are suitable alternatives, or they simply aren’t essential to the position. Regardless of the reasons, do include information about “bonus” qualifications, as they make it more likely that the job ad will compel your perfect candidate to apply, and they also help people get a more well-rounded sense of the job.
- Outline the benefits of working for you. To be matched with the perfect candidate, you have to sell your company just as much as the candidate will have to sell him or herself. While everyone appreciates things like a “competitive salary,” PTO, and health and retirement benefits, go beyond this (but again, keep it honest). Benefits like professional development opportunities, paid travel, regular happy hour get-togethers, catered lunches, paid gym memberships, and others that show that you invest in your employees’ happiness and well-being are guaranteed to help attract top talent. Don’t overlook them when writing job ads.