But now that Generation Y and Z are coming up and making completely different demands on employers than their predecessors, the classic job advert needs an update. In fact, it needs a revolution, because one thing is certain: The job ad we once knew is dead. Consequently, writing job adverts today works completely different.
In this article, we will introduce you to the new generation of job adverts, giving you some best practices to help you write stronger job adverts in the future and attract talent more successfully.
How writing job adverts worked
The previous job ad was based on a completely different market situation. From the newspaper era until long into the age of online job advertising, employers were in charge and could be very picky about their applicants. Accordingly, the job advert was strongly tailored to the needs of a company. The classic job advert always began with a seemingly endless paragraph about the company’s expansion, achievements, and some nebulous visions — literally pure self-promotion!
The structure of the traditional job advert looked something like this:
- Job title
- Lengthy presentation of the company
- Duties and responsibilities of the lucky chosen one
- Requirements from applicants
- Instructions on how to apply (by post or e-mail, which documents, etc.)
Quite impersonal. But back then, the relationship between employer and employee was a more purposive relationship anyway, and benefits were still an absolute alien concept. The applicant’s non-material advantage was prestige. Or to phrase it another way: he should be happy to be allowed to work for the respective company.
The new generation of job adverts
Writing such impersonal job adverts today is not acceptable at all. On the one hand, this is because the market situation has turned 180°. The applicant is now king – and has very specific wishes that have to be fulfilled. King applicant wants to be adequately rewarded for what he does — and not only in monetary units, but also in social aspects. After all, he invests large parts of his valuable lifetime in your objectives. The new generation of job adverts must therefore specifically convince applicants that they would also benefit from working in your company — and of course envision what that will look like.
On the other hand, it is also due to the fact that the upcoming generations Y (born 1980-1994) and Z (born 1995-2010) speak a completely different language than their predecessors. It is imperative that you master their language(s). In addition, the coveted young professionals “read” job adverts in a completely different way. Consequently, the job advert needs a revolution not only in terms of the tone of voice, but also in terms of structure, in order to be able to address and, above all, attract young talent.
How to write a job advert in the new structure
No more self-promotion, the spotlight is now on the desired candidates and their interests! This is especially essential for your recruitment success because the younger generations take an average of just 6 seconds to “scan” your job ad and invest about 45 seconds to actually read it. If the relevant information is not quickly and precisely visible within the first six seconds, the bounce is inevitable.
Orientation towards the applicants’ interests
Today’s job advert is therefore ideally based on the candidate’s interests. In order of decreasing relevance, today’s job seekers are primarily interested in these key facts:
- Job title
- What’s in it for me?
- What skills/characteristics are required?
- How can I apply?
- What does your company actually work on?
Engage potential applicants through language
And since the new generation of job adverts is already so strongly geared towards applicants, it is advisable to involve them directly. Currently, it works best to address applicants personally with “you” and also to include pronouns such as “we” or “our”. This involvement is perceived very positively.
But it also makes a lot of sense with regard to compliance to the German AGG (General Equal Treatment Act), which requires job adverts to be written in a gender-neutral form anyway. Simply “speaking” to people directly instead saves an enormous amount of work and helps you avoid warnings due to a lack of gender neutrality.
The job title is the first thing potential applicants see. Here it really depends a lot on what you are looking for — especially in terms of experience level. Are you looking for a career starter, an experienced professional or perhaps a leading personality … ? To make it unmistakably clear from the outset what you need, use terms like Junior, Senior, Head of … or even … Lead. For intermediate levels, just leave the term out.
And please don’t forget the addition “m/f/d” (male/female/diverse)! This is not only obligatory according to the General Equal Treatment Act. In fact, equality and political correctness are such a big issue for the younger generations that potential employers who do not take care to specifically address all genders etc. can very quickly cause offence — and thus send good candidates fleeing.
In practice, it looks like this: For example, if you are looking for an ambitious young professional to write content, the job title would have to be “Junior Content Writer (m/f/d)”. If you are looking for an experienced content writer (usually without management responsibility), it would probably be “Senior Content Writer (m/f/d)”. If you are looking for a head of department, on the other hand, it could be a “Head of Content (m/f/d)” or “Content Lead (m/f/d)”. Save both your applicants and yourself time by clearly stating what you are looking for.
Another question to be answered as early as possible: Where will your new employee work? In the office? Remotely in the home office? It is essential that you give details of the location and working environment. Because even if remote work is one of the most desired corporate benefits: Not everyone would wish to work from home, or be able to do so. So please state the location very close to the job title – latest within the job description.
Even if money is not everything that counts: It matters! For many candidates, it’s actually just as important as the location. Job ads that come up with a remuneration range generate up to 30% more applications. Make use of this advantage too and state the salary in a perfectly visible place on top of the job advert. Also communicate whether you are willing to negotiate.
First paragraph: Job description
Along with the unambiguous job title, there should also be a meaningful description of the role. It must become crystal clear,
- which level of experience is referred to: Junior, Intermediate, Senior, Head of … / … Lead?
- what the daily business of the advertised position includes (roughly outline function).
- where the workstation will be located (office or remote).
- what makes you a special employer (1 sentence on work culture! No more, no less.).
The very first paragraph should tempt and motivate potential applicants to read the rest of your job advert and offer strong motivators to apply. The best way to do this is to show what candidates can expect from their potential employer in return for the work they do. And we are not talking about the salary …
What’s in it for the candidate? (WIIFC)
A very important question for the junior staff: To what extent can the advertised position help them to achieve their personal goals? After all, the cooperation must be worthwhile for both sides. So be sure to communicate the key information around the following questions already in the role description:
- Is this job the next step in their career path?
- Does the job possibly help to climb the ladder to the next level?
- What support can be expected from the company (training, mentoring, etc.)?
- What work equipment do you provide?
- With what benefits do you intend to make their lives easier?
So the first (max.) 150 words describe the function and objective of the role, as well as the highlights of your company culture and employee benefits.
Second Paragraph: Responsibilities & Duties
Next important innovation for job ad writing: No one likes an endless list of duties! Consequently, the new generation of the job advert speaks less directly about duties. Although the former “Responsibilities & Duties” section still describes the tasks, it focuses more on giving a more detailed and personal description of the daily business within the position.
Specifically, the idea here is to paint a metaphorical picture for the young talents, showing them how they could use their personal qualities and interests in this role. They should be able to see themselves in the potential new working environment — similar to holding up any piece of clothing in a boutique to roughly assess whether it suits you.
Accordingly, the title of the section may need to be changed somewhat. A conceivable title here would be
- “Your Mission”,
- “What you will do”,
- “How you support us”, or
- “How you will engage yourself and your skills”.
Third paragraph: Qualifications or better said skills and characteristics
Bluntly asking for qualifications is also no longer in line with the zeitgeist. Now that you’ve done such a great job of explaining to your potential candidates how they can imagine their new job, the next step is to make sure that they finally recognise themselves in the job.
And that works best by holding up a mirror to your target audience and telling them why they would be a perfect fit for the role and work environment described. Conceivable headlines for this (yes, they may also be adapted) could look like this, for example:
- “Your superpowers”
- “Make sure you bring”
- “You’re a fit because …”
It is however important that the soft and hard skills listed here fit the previously mentioned responsibilities and the corporate culture. If it is not obvious what skills are needed for, talents will get the impression that you do not quite know what you are looking for yourself. And who wants to be tied to someone who doesn’t know what they want?
Fourth paragraph: Application instructions
If you want to receive applications, you should also include information about how the application process works in the job advert. Applicants need to know which documents and details are required and, above all, how and to whom the application should be sent.
We have already mentioned it many times and cannot write it often enough:
- Make it easy for applicants
The more complex the application process, the less likely it is that an application will be received. And the worse for the candidate experience. Only ask for the most necessary documents, and use applicant tracking systems that allow candidates to send documents with just a few clicks.
- Name contact persons and show a photo
If you can apply to “real people” instead of a phantom, candidates are much more likely to apply. Displaying a name, photo, and possible contact details can increase the feedback of your job advert by up to 15 %.
Fifth paragraph: Information on the company
Please do not misunderstand: It does matter to young talents how your company changes the world — after all, they want to change the world too. It’s just that it no longer comes first and is usually only scanned if the rest is fine. The part about your company does not need to be omitted when writing job ads, but it should be short and informative, focus on your employer branding and support it with attractive (but authentic) photos or videos.
Also include some information about what makes your working environment unique and convenient — perhaps your office is particularly green (both in terms of environment and plants present), prominently located or easily reachable by public transport?
Length of the job advert
You guessed it: reading is not necessarily the hobby of young professionals. Consequently, the length of your revolutionary job advert also brings some challenges.
Of course, you can’ t read very much in 45 seconds — and especially then, too much text quickly has the effect of being overwhelming. For the new generation of job adverts, the rule is: brevity is the soul of wit. Find the balance between concise presentation and appropriate information content to convince your target audience.
These key data shall give you a little guidance:
- Don’t use more than 2,000 characters (max. 500 word) in total
- Max. 700 characters (approx. 150 word) for the job description
- Use short, concise sentences
- No long paragraphs!
- Use appealing (sub-)headings
- Bold really important information
- Use bullet lists with approx. 5-6 points each for tasks and qualifications
General tips how to write job adverts
Finally, here are a few good tips that will help you score extra points with professionals of the youngest generations:
Embrace social responsibility
Generation Z in particular attaches enormous importance to companies recognising and actively fulfilling their social responsibility — be it through social days, volunteer projects or the like.
If your company is also active in this field, be sure to include this in your job adverts. If not, how about additional days off for charity work? Many well-known employers are already taking advantage of this, so what are you waiting for? Be the next!
Focus the learning effect
The upcoming talents are young and indeed still have a lot to learn. The good thing about it: that’s exactly what they want — personally and professionally. And preferably together with a company that also wants to constantly improve. So clearly emphasise in your job adverts what development is being aimed for and how the holder of the advertised position will concretely contribute to it in the future.
In doing so, also directly draw attention to the professional support opportunities in your company. For example, do you reimburse university fees, allow time off for paid courses and training, or do you plan to use this job as a stepping stone to a higher position? Be sure to emphasise professional development opportunities and make yourself even more attractive to young talents who want to advance their careers when writing job ads.
Ensure clarity and authenticity
Trying to get through to others by adopting a tone that neither suits themselves nor their target audience is unpleasant, isn’t it? Especially with the younger generations, it backfires very quickly.
They want instant clarity and self-explanatory terms when it comes to job titles. They don’t appreciate it when potential employers come up with overly creative job titles like “content rock star” or similar woolly terms, use a lot of jargon or bombard them with unnecessary slang. All you need to do is understand what Millennials and Gen-Zs want from their jobs and employers. Pick up on it and communicate transparently and authentically.
Make job adverts mobile friendly
The majority of job searches — as well as applications — now take place on smartphones. It is therefore very important to ensure that your job advert also looks good on smartphones, tablets, and the like, and that the application there can be carried out quickly and easily. Fortunately, this is already guaranteed with most job platforms. But what about your career site? A stringently up-to-date, mobile-optimised web presence across all platforms is an important sticking point in the “war for talents”.
With JOIN, not only your job ads, but also your career site becomes mobile-optimised, helping you to keep up with the new demands of job ad writing almost effortlessly with just a few clicks.
Observe reputation and image
Keep an eye on your employer branding on social media as well as your image according to testimonials on review platforms like kununu etc. In fact, especially the “digital natives”, as generations Y and Z are called because of their media affinity, like to conduct background checks on potential employers — and often use both.
Attracting talent is becoming increasingly difficult as long as the legitimately picky qualified talents are in the driver’s seat. Accordingly, today’s job ads demand completely different standards in terms of content and structure. Crucial for revolutionising your job ads is above all,
- that the job advert reflects what applicants need to know with little text (max. 500 words),
- that the interests of potential candidates are served as quickly as possible,
- that the Tone of Voice is authentic and does not contain woolly phrases,
- that applicants can feel themselves into your position with pictures and text,
- that the role described is meaningful and contributes to something bigger, and
- that the job advert shows how working in your company will advance talents both professionally and personally (see Benefits).
Feeling overwhelmed by the new demands? Don’t worry, you are not alone! With our free job advert templates for many common positions, we show you what a next-generation job ad can look like. We are constantly working on expanding our offer and simplifying the job ad writing revolution for you as much as possible.