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How to write a good job advert
that attracts great talent

Your complete guide on creating job adverts that attract top talent.

Made with love by the JOIN team.

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:

  • What works well
  • What doesn't work well
  • What length a job ad should be
  • What mistakes can be made

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.

Job advertisement

A job advertisement, or job posting (although this can have a slightly different meaning, as detailed below), is an advertisement that promotes open postings within a company or organization.

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.

79% of people use social media when searching for a job, while 50% of job applications will come through a job board.

So, as you can see, there’s a huge audience out there who you can reach through a simple job ad. Making it all the more important that they like what they see!

Read it on Glassdoor & Zety

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.

  • 1Research
  • 2Define
  • 3Hiring

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 139 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.

Free job description templates

Check out our helpful job description templates for help defining your role!

See job description templates

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?

interest over time

key takeaways of this graph

  • 1Searches for the term Order Picker greatly outweigh those of Order Packer. Labelling your open role as Order Packer would limit the number of potential applicants who see your job advertisement in the first place.
  • 2Receiving unqualified applicants is a barrier that prevents from making good hires, say 23% of recruiters. While receiving a few unsuitable candidates is to be expected for any role, properly defining and advertising for the right position may help to cut the amount of these down.

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.

Challenge the hiring manager! Make sure what they want is exactly what they need.

Lidia Mascio

Recruiting Agent, JOIN

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.

A 12-day hiring process is ideal. Anything more than that and you risk losing your candidates to competitors.

Dennis Wegener

Head of HR, JOIN

How to write a
job advertisement

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!

Think about yourself! What would you want to see? You have to catch the attention of someone scrolling through ads in a number of seconds.

Dennis Wegener

Head of HR, JOIN

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.

Writing a too-long job description will mean some candidates may end up disqualifying themselves.

Lidia Mascio

Recruiting Agent, JOIN

Note: It is important to remember that the version of your job description that will be published in your job advertisement will be a much-abridged version of what you will keep for internal records. For a more detailed explanation of what the difference between the two is, check out our glossary article.

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.

Don’t frame your job section as what you need from the candidate, but as what the candidate stands to gain from you. Your benefits section can be opened with a catchy question such as “Why should you join us”?

Lidia Mascio

Recruiting Agent, JOIN

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.

Pro

  • Listing the salary in your job advertisement will ensure that all candidates are willing to accept what you are offering.
  • No awkward conversations or wasted time working through the hiring process only to find the pay isn’t what the candidate was expecting.
  • If similar roles do show the salary, your ad can quickly be skimmed over in favour of an ad with the salary listed.

Con

  • In some industries, the market is dominated by several larger companies. This is certainly the case in fields such as Accounting, which famously houses the ‘big four’ meaning it can be hard to compete on salary. Here, including your pay range in the advert can discourage candidates from applying. In these cases, focusing on your attractive benefits such as wellness days or subsidised travel may be more sensible, and salary can be negotiated during the interview stage.

37% of candidates who weren’t interested in a job ad stated their reason for not being interested as the salary range not being disclosed.

Survey conducted by JOIN.com

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.

  • 6+ years of talent acquisition experience and a proven track record in an agile recruiting environment, ideally an early-stage startup
  • You proactively engage in stakeholder management and independently develop and implement recruiting strategies
  • Strong passion for hiring a small number of high potentials instead of "high volume - low quality" recruitment
  • Ability to prioritize, multi-task, and demonstrate a strong problem-solving mindset
  • Strong organizational and time management skills
  • Fluency in English

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:

  • 1Having an overly difficult and stressful hiring process is a sure-fire way to lose talented applicants and discourage people from completing their applications. This is a fact supported in a statistic stated by HR industry thought leader and professor Dr John Sullivan, who says that 9 out of 10 potential applicants to Fortune 500 firms drop out if the process is frustrating.
  • 2Alongside this, if an application process is particularly unpleasant, this will stop talent from wanting to come back and apply for similar roles in the future. Therefore, you’re reducing your chances of forming a quality talent pool.

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!

If you’re known for having a funny bone, now is the time to apply it!

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:

  • Your industry
  • Some achievements your company has reached
  • Your company mission
  • Where you operate
  • How big your team is
  • Your job ad checklist
  • Job description
  • Benefits
  • Working hours
  • Remote options
  • Salary (optional)
  • Requirements
  • Soft skills
  • Hard skills
  • Nice to have skills (optional)
  • How to apply
  • Hiring manager name
  • Hiring manager image
  • Company information

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.

Wondering where to
post jobs for free?

For more information on posting your job to multiple job boards, check out our free job posting page.

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

  • A more targeted audience
  • Less competition, more visibility
  • Higher chance of your company being known
  • Candidates know what to expect from your market

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.

Tricky/niche roles

  • ALeaving the post up for longer, however it is likely that your advertisement will be buried under newer postings.
  • BLeave the post up and utilise the premium feature that many job boards offer. Typically, this means your job post is not buried and remains in a great position for applicants to find. Some boards even help to target your premium job ad at applicants who are more likely to be interested!

Urgent postings

  • AUtilise both a multiposting tool and premium job adverts to help to reel in talent faster. You’ll gain a wider reach and premium positions on these chosen job boards.
  • BShare your job on various social media and get your team to do the same, to help boost your audience!

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.

Bring your hiring process to the next level

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Example of roles posted to multiple job boards on JOIN

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