How to write a great job ad: 5 tips for a successful hiring campaign
Ever posted an ad for a good job, only to find you get no responses… or lots of candidates, few of whom are right for the role?
It’s a common scenario, and it can be very frustrating. Worse still, it can lead to poor, compromised decisions (“I guess we’ll just hire him then”) or months of readvertising, in search of someone who fits the bill.
Here’s the thing: you can avoid this scenario - even in a tough market.
We’ve seen time and time again that by investing in ongoing employer branding and recruitment marketing, you’ll get better results. But here’s a secret: even a small investment in crafting one good job ad campaign will deliver great ROI - helping you attract a high volume of quality candidates, and make a great hire who stays and delivers.
Start with audience.
Here’s just one story of how we recently made that happen.
A Cinderella Story: Finding our Perfect Fit
We recently went to market looking for a super-organised, super-friendly Workspace and Community manager, based at our new HQ in leafy Paddington, QLD. For this part-time, office-based role, we needed somebody who was comfortable getting stuck into anything and everything, and who could combine professional excellence and organisation with great compassion and the ability to make everyone feel at home.
We started by asking ourselves the same question we always ask: Who do we think is most likely to apply for this role, be successful and thrive with us?
We came up with a number of different ‘audience segments’, and we of course reflected on less traditional applicants. But who did we channel as most likely?
Yep, parents or grandparents who were returning to work, or in admin roles and looking for more.
So we went to market with a job ad deliberately targeted to this target audience. We considered what matters most to our ideal candidate, and shaped the role accordingly. We started by addressing their fundamental needs of specific, routine working hours (“school hours are fine”), plus flexibility, and the desire to do meaningful work and grow your career, without sacrificing life at home.
We also worked hard in the ad to showcase our welcoming culture, and to encourage and support the candidate, offering advice on how they could stand out in their application.
We received over 190 applications in 15 days, 100 of whom we could easily have interviewed if needed. We selected around 15 people who had made a real effort and who we felt could thrive with us and add different skills or lived experience. And after a relaxed, honest interview process, we hit the jackpot.
Welcome to our new Workspace and Community Manager, Joanne!
Joanne brings everything we need, and more. She’s a grandmother of ten, and her long and rich journey includes owning and running a successful cafe, renovating two homes, and being a police officer and a teacher. When she saw our ad, Joanne had decided she wanted more, so she thought she’d see what was out there.
Joanne’s first day coincided with our team’s first day in the workspace that Joanne now helps manage. And she’s already part of our lovely furniture! An invaluable member of the team, Storyteller House just wouldn’t feel like home without her.
Want the same results?
Here are five tips for a great recruitment campaign. It’s what’s helped EBA consistently find great applicants and hires, quickly and cost-effectively.
1. Those three bullet points are prime real estate. Use them well.
If you’re investing in ongoing employer branding, you’ll hopefully have some good future talent engaged in your talent pool, checking your live roles or at least following you on your socials. (You’re not? Get in touch. We’ll help you smash it.)
But the truth is, many great potential candidates aren’t sitting on your website or social channel, hoping you’ll advertise a role that day. It’s much more likely that they’ve stumbled across your job ad after scrolling through 3 pages of postings on SEEK, Indeed or similar. By this time, they’ve already seen the words “competitive salary” and “friendly team environment” about 158 times. How are you going to get their attention?
It’s all in the introductory text that appears in the search results. When writing your own, ask yourself: are your bullet points easy to skim read? Do they stand out? And most importantly, will they resonate with what your target audiences want and need in a job?
We often tell hiring managers that the best candidate for the job never even knew you were hiring. So if they do come across your ad, you need to ensure you’re doing everything you can to make them feel compelled to apply.
Here are the points that compelled Joanne to apply:
- Get the flexible hours and trust you need, and a leafy, friendly workspace.
- Find a culture of kindness and care. “We travel together.”
- Enjoy varied work that matters, and be truly valued for your contribution.
2. A picture paints a thousand words.
Once your potential candidate has clicked on your job ad, the first thing they’ll see is your header image - if you choose to use one. And since SEEK gives you the option for free, we highly recommend doing so. Make sure you use an eye-catching image, ideally one that communicates a little about your organisation or the role you’re recruiting for. This might be a quote from one of your people, your values, or your EVP messaging.
And if creating a new header image is out of your scope right now, a simple photo of your team is a great place to start. (That’s what we did for Joanne’s role!)
3. First impressions count. Focus on them, not you. And inject a little personality.
Your job ad should sell who you are and the role you’re offering in an authentic way. Think about the language you’re using. How can you get someone excited about this role? Don’t just write a laundry list of expectations and qualifications. Of course these points are important, and you should include them. But get creative about how you write them.
Here are some swaps from our latest job ad.
Oh, and here’s another trick: count how many times you say “We’, “Our” or “Us”, versus “You”, “Your” and “Yours”. Most ads are dominated by the former. Switch it up - a great ad should be a mirror for your target audiences. By focusing on them, you’ll help them see themselves in the role.
4. Beyond the job ad: Using your social media channels to amplify your campaign.
Getting your job ad out on job boards or your recruitment platform is just the first step. The next step is making sure it lands in front of the people you want to see it. One of the best ways to get it front and centre is to amplify your message via social media. And for that, you need content.
Remember: Algorithms are king, so it’s important to ensure your social post is engaging for the platform you’re on. Here are some ideas that have worked for us:
- Post a picture of someone already in your team, with a caption on the image that reads something like, “Come and work with this legend!” Or “Be supported by our incredible Chief People Officer, Carly!”
- Interview somebody already in the role (or a similar role) and create a visual tile which includes quotes about why they love their job, what sets your workplace apart, and why someone else should join.
- Have the Hiring Manager film a quick video about what they’re looking for in a candidate, encouraging people to reach out directly if they have any questions and want to put a face to a name.
5. People power: Encourage your team to share with their networks.
If you’re the one posting the job ad or handling the social media promotion, chances are you’re in a HR, TA or marketing role - and it’s likely that your network and online connections are in similar spaces. The people currently working in your organisation are more likely to have relevant connections. Who knows more engineers than Diana, your Project Engineer? Who knows more nurses than Korina, your newest AIN?
Make sure you keep your people in the loop when you’re launching your job ad on social media. For a small, engaged team, send them a message when you post, encouraging them to jump on and like, comment and share. Or better yet, write their own post from their personal perspective about why someone should join the team. You’d be surprised just how powerful it can be.
There you go - our top five tips for a better hiring campaign. Give them a whirl and let us know if you see results!
If you want to talk more about attracting and retaining talent, we’d love to chat. Reach out to the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.