Your complete guide on creating job adverts that attract top talent.
Struggling to write a job advert?
Finding yourself tasked with hiring for a new role can be daunting. With sizeable hiring costs to consider, deciding what you need from your next employee, and finding the right person, it’s no simple process! One thing is for sure. A good job advertisement makes every step that little bit easier. But, what makes a good job ad?
Table of contents
We’ve analysed the 303,000 job adverts posted to JOIN in 2021 to determine the best practices for creating job ads that attract top talent. Based on this extensive research we've identified key factors including:
Scrolling through LinkedIn or any other popular job board or job posting site, you’ll quickly realise that many job ads miss the mark. They can be badly written, a carbon copy of the ad above them, or they may just leave you wondering: What the heck is it they’re advertising? But, without the knowledge or resources to put together an effective job ad, you’re at risk of getting lost in the same sea of job ad despair.
So, to help you find better talent fast we’ve used our findings to assemble the guide below on how to create a job ad that will stand out from the crowd and reel in the top talent from around the globe.
What is a job advertisement and why should you care?
To write an impactful job advertisement, you’ve first got to understand what a job advertisement is. We’ve summarised the definition for this essential tool in our helpful recruitment glossary, as quoted below.
Why is a good job advertisement important?
In a world programmed to keep internet users scrolling endlessly, your job advert is just one in a sea of thousands of others. Over half of internet users are said to spend less than 15 seconds actively on a page before losing interest. This means that you have roughly 15 seconds to get the main point or idea across in your text before a reader will lose interest. So, if you’re going to attract the best talent then you need the best job advertisement.
And bear in mind that a job advertisement will be a lot of people’s first introduction to your business. Especially with small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), your job advertisement is a window into your company and your values, culture, and purpose.
Getting your job advertisement right is a huge step forward in your employer branding, and in this guide, we will show you how to do this. From detailing how to write a good job advertisement, to telling you where to post it.
Employer branding is the practice of managing and influencing your company’s public image to attract, recruit, and retain employees. It defines how people see you as a business!
4 reasons why you have
to advertise a job
If all this sounds like a lot of pressure, you may find yourself asking “Do jobs really have to be advertised at all?” And the short answer is, yes. Here are 4 reasons to advertise your job:
It’s fair (and protects your business)
In some countries, such as the United Kingdom, advertising a vacancy protects you from getting into hot water later with a discrimination case.
Advertising your open role gives all internal employees and external candidates a fair chance to apply for the role. Filling the role without advertising it, or completing the rest of the fair recruitment process, can be seen as discrimination.
It’s essential (especially today)
Great job adverts open the door for great talent. And, the pandemic has left a tight labour market in its wake, making it even more important to create job ads that will attract as much talent as possible.
Without advertising a role, you risk either leaving your team understaffed and overworked or forcing someone internally into a position they don’t want and aren’t qualified for. Someone who is interested in your advert is then, likely, highly interested in the role you’re offering.
It expands your external reach
Without posting a job advert, it is also unlikely that you’ll be drumming up much interest in your vacancies from external talent. Only 3% of applicants come from referrals and 2% from internal hires, so if you’re failing to post your job ad elsewhere you’re casting your net incredibly close to home.
It allows for international hiring
For companies hiring internationally, this is especially important.
Small or medium-sized businesses are less likely to be known outside of their area, so to take your vacancy global, advertising your job is essential. To get the right candidates, selecting the right job boards will also be required — more on this in our where to post the job section, below.
Before writing the job advert.
As with many great things in life, the right job advert requires the right amount of preparation. Storming straight ahead without doing your research, not working out the details of the role, and failing to decide who will be in charge of the hiring process will lead to confusion and stress. That’s why you need to prepare the facts first. This means deciding exactly which points will be communicated in your job advert and knowing who will own the process. Consider the following 3 points.
What is the role you’re hiring for?
This is a discussion you’ll need to have with the relevant team. You may have diagnosed that your warehouse is not running to its full potential as they’re understaffed. But, you’ll need to do a little work to find out which department and team need the extra set of hands.
Once you’ve decided on the team that needs help, you can figure out which role needs hiring. If you find out that not enough parcels are being packaged per day, for instance, it is likely that you need an Order Picker.
If you’re finding it hard to define the role then it can help to read through some job descriptions for roles based inside the department you’re hiring for. Luckily, we’ve got 133 example job descriptions for you to take a look through. Failing this, a quick search through LinkedIn should help give you inspiration for your role.
Why is defining the role important?
Getting the exact job title right might not be your number one priority. After all, you could just decide on an applicant and train them to do what you want them to once they join, right?
Theoretically, yes. But defining the role properly will save you a headache and a lot of time and effort in the long run. Not in the least, it is a great way to ensure you’re getting the right applications — and lots of them.
Take the Order Picker as an example. What if you were to just call them an Order Packer in your job advertisement? It’s a similar name, after all, and technically it makes sense. So, as long as you were clear in the description and interview would it make a difference?
A great tip from our Talent Acquisition Specialist Lidia Mascio is to always have someone to challenge the hiring manager on their decision, whether this is an HR Manager or simply someone else from within the company.
Finding out whether the role they have defined is what they need, not just what they want, will save time and energy in the long run. And it will lead to an all-around more effective hire.
Who will be in charge of the hiring process?
This is an essential decision to make before you post your job advertisement.
Imagine, you receive the perfect candidate but let them slip through your fingers as no one has been delegated to check the applications for your role. It’s an easy mistake, but one that can be highly detrimental to your hiring process.
Having a set person in charge of the hiring process makes decisions faster and easier to make. If the hiring manager is clear on their role and what they have power over, decisions can be made quickly.
Usually, in the SME recruitment process, the hiring manager will be someone from the relevant department and they will take care of communication and scheduling themselves.
But once a company reaches around 50 to 60 employees, this can become messy. Reviewing, responding to, and scheduling time to talk to potential candidates in a business of this size is best handled by a professional HR team.
Dennis Wegener, Head of HR at JOIN, explains that “a 12-day hiring process is ideal” and how with “anything more than that you risk losing your candidates to competitors”.
Keeping your time-to-hire low improves your chances of bringing in top talent. And, to do this, you need to ensure you’ve got the right people ready to respond at all times. So, ensure whoever is in charge of the hiring process has the time and skill to do just that.
How to write a
Now you’re ready to bring your job ad into existence you need to know how to write a job advertisement that will stand out and hook your candidates in. As we previously mentioned, there are thousands of job ads out there competing with yours, so knowing how to catch attention is essential.
First of all, it is important to remember that your potential candidates are humans too! As our Head of HR Dennis says “Think about yourself, what would you want to see?” Job seekers are looking for ads that jump out and catch their interest, meaning “You have to catch the attention of someone scrolling through ads in a number of seconds.”
Thinking about the type of advertisement that would catch your own attention will stop you from thinking about things from a business perspective, and help you see things as a job seeker.
You can even take this one step further and ask for the relevant team’s perspective. An Accountant will know what another Accountant is looking for in a job advertisement, for example!
Below, we’ll explain how to write the perfect job ad in 5 simple steps.
Step 1: Job Description
First things first, giving the reader the job description in a clear and concise way is essential. While the job title will be the first thing the potential candidate reads (and should be the title of your job ad, too), the job description will clear up any doubts the individual has about whether this is the role for them.
What is in a job description?
A good job description will give an employee a good taste of what they can expect in the day-to-day proceedings of the job, without going overboard. Listing three to five of their most important responsibilities will help them to imagine themselves in the role. But it’s important to not go overboard with this section.
Our Talent Acquisition Specialist Lidia Mascio explains that going into too much detail in the job description may lead to potential employees deeming themselves underqualified for the role. Usually, this isn’t the case as the specifics of the role can easily be trained when an employee starts.
Instead, keep the description to the essentials.
Alternative job description formats
As the hiring process evolves and becomes more and more digital-focused (with remote interviews and even digital onboarding processes increasingly seen) so do job descriptions.
Including alternative media types in your job description can really make you stand out from the crowd. Whether this is with videos from people in the same role, such as those seen on Booking.com, or with an approach completely unique to your team. This will help to show personality and be great for your employer branding.
It’s worth mentioning...
that you’ll be limited to what you include in your job ad dependent on what your chosen job posting site allows. In these cases, you will want to make use of the ‘About the Company’ section on these sites.
This is also why it is important to have a well-designed and regularly updated career’s page on your own website, which ensures you can be as creative as you want!
Again, the way you do this can be tailored to the role. A Graphic Designer role’s job ad, for example, may benefit from the inclusion of some illustrations.
Step 2: Benefits
One mistake companies can often make when writing a job advertisement is to have the benefits section too far down the page.
With the job market getting more and more competitive for employers and increasing job vacancy rates being seen across Europe companies need to show what they can offer to potential candidates. Showcasing your benefits at the top of your job advertisement will make your company stand out from the get-go and stop candidates from scrolling right past you.
Highlighting your benefits is an especially good technique for smaller companies. If you can't compete with larger businesses on the salary you offer, then something you can compete on is your values and the way your company works.
Showcasing any special benefits you may offer that will help you stand out is a great way to reel candidates in. This can include:
As an added bonus, this will help to future proof time your business too. This gives a potential candidate a chance to scope out the way your business operates and what perks they will be offered. Hopefully, this will mean the candidate will only apply if this way of working aligns with their interests and your values stand out to them.
Should I include the salary in my job posting?
This discussion has probably been around for as long as job advertisements themselves. And, it is one that the jury is still torn on.
Step 3: Requirements
As previously mentioned, the requirements section in your job advertisement should be kept short and sweet.
In the modern recruitment world, a shift is being seen away from the typical ‘set in stone’ approach that was once part of job advertisements. Instead hiring for skills over roles is a technique that is gaining traction, so much so that this approach was mentioned by the President of the United States, Joe Biden, in his March 1st State of the Union address.
Typically, keeping your requirements below 10 bullet points is a great way to ensure candidates don’t start to disqualify themselves from your position.
The number of requirements and how strict these are will vary dependent on the role. This is extremely noticeable with tech or healthcare roles, as these can have either specific language requirements or, in the case of healthcare, legal requirements which must be included.
This, in turn, can narrow down the number of applicants you receive. A great way to ensure you’re receiving maximum applicants while still stating the necessary qualifications is to ensure you’re not favouring a specific qualification type or university. Mentioning that all types of the needed qualification or equal qualifications are welcome will avoid deterring suitable candidates.
For example, if you’re hiring for a Full Stack Developer you may be looking for a candidate fluent in Python and Jira. Here, you should make it clear you will accept candidates with a degree in computer science, taught online (with a relevant qualification) or who have learnt through years of experience.
Or, if you’re hiring for a medical role within the EU, instead of specifying a degree from a nationwide university you can mention you’re looking for a degree recognised within the EU. This will not only encourage more applications but also open the door to more diverse candidates (we’ll touch more on this later in this guide.)
When posting jobs with more requirements, be sure your benefits and remuneration are up to scratch.
Are your job requirements wanted or needed?
Too often, companies fall into the habit of listing everything they want from a candidate as if every requirement is absolutely essential to the position. A good force of habit here is separating your wants in a candidate from your needs.
If you recognise something is a want but still think it is worth mentioning in your job advertisement then you could make the difference between these apparent with two different sections. For example:
Essential versus Nice to have
This avoids discouraging qualified candidates while letting those who have these extra ‘wants’ that they’re extra desirable!
Step 4: How to Apply
Once you’ve established the responsibilities and requirements for your role, it’s time to let your candidates know how to get in touch.
The main point to remember here is to keep it simple. And that’s for two main reasons:
To avoid an overly-difficult application process you need to ensure the process is as bug-free as possible. The candidate shouldn’t have to repeat themselves too often and questions should be kept short and sweet.
A common complaint seen among job seekers is that they often need to attach their CV during the job application process, only to have to fill in a form at a later stage.
A great way to avoid this is by using an ATS such as JOIN. These will standardise the applications you receive from applicants and allow you to customise the forms your candidate needs to fill out, offering you the opportunity to add only the necessary screening questions alongside CV submissions.
As well as making applying easier for talent, it also makes screening the applications easier for your hiring manager in the future — bonus!
When posting jobs with more requirements, be sure your benefits and remuneration are up to scratch.
It’s extra important that it is clear to your candidate how you want to be reached. If you want applications to be sent directly to a hiring manager’s email, state this!
Step 5: Intro to the Company
Lastly, give the candidate an introduction to your company.
Ideally, this is the final step in the job advertisement as some candidates may not even get to this point, due to the increasingly click-and-scroll nature of current job hunting. So, this is a great way to ensure they access the essentials before getting here.
As there’s a chance some applicants may not properly read this section (or skip it completely) it’s essential you give an idea of who you are as a company and your culture within the above. This can be done in the benefits section previously mentioned, as well as through the tone of voice you use in your job advertisement as a whole.
For example, if you’re a company that values humour, showcase this with a few jokes or puns throughout the advertisement. As a bonus, this will help you stand out from the crowd even further!
Aside from this, it is a good idea to include a small paragraph introducing the company in some way.
This gives those extra-curious applicants the chance to garner what field your company is in, whether your mission aligns with their values, and to measure their past experience in your industry. Including a small introduction is especially helpful if you’re a start-up or a smaller business, as candidates are not likely to know too much about your business in the first place.
While candidates are inevitably going to get to know more about you in the next steps of the hiring process, this is still a great place to start. Especially, given the fact that research in North America has shown that 17% of candidates that turn down a job offer cited learning new information about a company as the reason they did so.
In short? The more the candidate knows about your company, the better. So, why not start introducing yourself early?
This can be kept short, and could even be a few bullet points including:
Where to post your job advertisement
This is one of the most important decisions you can make regarding your job advertisement. After all, you could have the greatest job ad in the world and if nobody saw it, you’d get no applicants!
Of course, there are the giants of advertising jobs online. These are the ones nearly every hiring manager has heard of: LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor.
And these are great places to start! They’re well known for a reason. Statistics show that 6 people are hired through LinkedIn alone every minute, meaning they should be a part of your recruitment strategy for sure.
However, posting your job to just one job board greatly minimises the pool of talent that will see your advertisement. This not only reduces the number of applications you receive but can minimise the diversity seen in your applications. Instead, posting your job advertisement to multiple jobs posting sites is the best way to cast the net further.
This is easily done with a multiposting tool, which will allow you to write one job ad and post it to multiple sites.
Zoom in on qualified talent for your niche
Along with the larger job boards, there is a selection of smaller job boards that you may not have heard of.
While these boards don’t have the same global recognition as LinkedIn and Indeed, there doesn’t mean they aren’t highly effective. In fact, posting your job advertisement to these job boards is highly recommended as they can reach highly-concentrated specific groups of talent.
Quick benefits of niche job boards
As an example the Berlin-based job board Berlin Start-Up Jobs is full of talent looking for roles in Berlin at a start-up company. This is obviously a great niche job board for those hiring for a start-up in Berlin, as it readily filters out candidates who would be uncomfortable working in a start-up environment.
Another example is Dribbble. Dribble is a site that focuses solely on designers, meaning that when you post your job ad there, you are directly speaking to your target audience. To summarize, these boards are a powerful tool that shouldn’t be ignored.
The best way to find these boards is to do a little research beforehand. Whether this means talking to the relevant team within your company and asking for recommendations, searching forums frequented by your target role, or using a multiposting tool that can recommend boards for you!
How long to wait for responses to your job advertisement
How long you should keep your advert live depends on a number of factors, not least being the urgency of the role and how many responses you want. Typically, a job advert will stay live for 30 days on job boards such as Indeed. Of course, you can always take your job ad down when the number of applicants is reached.
It is also a good idea to share your job on various social media and get your team to do the same, to help boost your audience!
What’s next for your job ad?
Following these tips is a great way to kick-start your hiring process. But, be sure to mix it in with what you know works.
Tracking how your job ads perform and measuring how each tweak you make impacts the performance will ensure you’re always improving. Of course, different roles will have different factors that will work for them. However, consistency in your advertisements is an important way to build your employer branding.
Get more insights about hiring
Read more about HR specific topics like hiring, interviews and team building in our Blog.
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If you’re looking to hire a more diverse team, a good place to start is with an inclusive recruitment process. We spoke to PROUT AT WORK about how to achieve this. Read the interview, here.