Myth-Busting: 6 Lies You've Been Told About Writing Successful Job Adverts!

Our biggest pet hate as a recruitment agency? Terrible job adverts. Unfortunately we stumble across them every day and considering the amount of mythical gobbledygook 'advice' out there on the subject matter, it's easy to see why! Are your job ads too creative? Too obvious? Not obvious enough?

June 20, 2023

Are you in charge of writing the job adverts for your business?

Have you ever written an absolutely fantastic, bells-and-whistles ad that inexplicably bombed?

Did you follow some kind of 'ultimate guide to writing the perfect job advert' but still not get it quite right?

Luckily, we've picked up quite a lot of experience in the job advertising arena (who'd have thought it?) and we're pretty up to date with all of those false little myths and tricky little traps that hiring managers fall into...

(In fact, click here to check out our recent blog: 10 of the worst job adverts you'll ever see!)

...but why do these problems arise?

If you want to cut out the rubbish, write a great job ad and ultimately find a superstar staff member, check out the six common myths outlined below...

Myth Number 1: The More "Creative," the Better!

[caption id="attachment_22159" align="alignright" width="300"] Could you get away with this headline?[/caption]

Are you advertising for a 'Digital Wizard'? A 'Wet Leisure Attendant?' or a 'Retail Jedi?' when you're actually looking to hire a web designer, lifeguard or shop assistant?

If so, I'm going to assume that you've been advised to make your job adverts "more creative" to attract more creative applicants...

Did it work? Or did you actually just end up with a lot fewer applicants?

Creativity is overrated!

Recruiter Pro Tip 1

Stop posting SEO-unfriendly job adverts!

Use a job title that job-seekers are actually going to search for or the 'creative applicants,' you're trying so hard to attract, won't even see your ad.

As for the rest of your job advert content, feel free to go wild if it reflects your company culture and the type of people you're looking to hire...

- If your business is renowned for it's creative, friendly and 'out-of-the-box' culture, then a snazzy job advert may go a long way.

- However, if you're more interested in flaunting professionalism and seriousness, then this approach may not work for you.

(Don't repel perfectly good applicants because they think your company is a bit too 'out there' for them.)

Myth Number 2: More Detail = More Suitable Candidates.

[caption id="attachment_22161" align="alignright" width="300"] Possibly expecting a little too much![/caption]

Like any advertisement, it's critical that you get your message across quickly so the reader doesn't lose interest.

Reeling off a list of 100,000,001 "necessary" skills will merely...

1) Give applicants 100,000,001 reasons NOT to apply for the job. You'll lose applicants.

2) Increase the number of irrelevant applications from people who couldn't be bothered to read all of the information.

I'm not suggesting that you omit any ultra-important information from your job advert...I am suggesting that you only include the essentials.

Recruiter Pro Tip 2 Depending on the vacancy, it may not be necessary to advertise general skills like communication, organisation and team-work as essential applicant prerequisites. Later in the process, you'll get a chance to assess these skills for yourself.

Myth Number 3: Simplicity Sells.

Of course, some recruiters believe that the best way to attract top candidates is by limiting the information.

Compelled by the mysterious nature of the role, you're guaranteed to attract some creative and curious candidates right?

Wrong. One of the biggest job advert turn-offs is a lack of information.

You need to tell the candidate exactly what they want to know!

As a bare minimum your job advert should include the following...

  • Job title.
  • Job description.
  • Location.
  • Salary.
  • Company name (or brief description, if confidential).
  • Essential skills.
  • Call to action.
  • Contact information.

But you should also go some way to explaining exactly why they should apply.

Are you an employer of choice? Are there some great benefits? Are you looking to expand?

[caption id="attachment_22171" align="alignright" width="300"] This ad is certainly targeted, if nothing else.[/caption]

Great marketers will take the time to compile an 'Ideal Customer Profile' before beginning any marketing campaign, which includes everything they can possibly know about a target customer, from how they behave to what their likes and dislikes are.

You can use a similar exercise to come up with an 'Ideal Candidate Profile and then amend all job adverts to speak directly to that kind of person.

Myth Number 4: All Job-Seekers are Desperate.

[caption id="attachment_22169" align="alignright" width="300"] You'd have to be desperate to apply to this job...[/caption]

Some employers believe that all job-seekers are desperate to find a new job!

But that's simply not the case.

High-calibre job-seekers are a commodity that other business will be competing to get their hands on and your job advert is the only thing that's going to win them over!

Recruiter Pro Tip 4 You need to sell the role and the company within your job advert. Offering a short, drab paragraph with no personality and failing to highlight the clear benefits of applying may invite a barrage of mediocre applicants, but you'll miss out on the best ones!

You need to think like a marketer .

That doesn't necessarily mean (as I discussed earlier) that your advert should be filled with crazy hyperbole and mesmerising marketing buzz words...just make sure that there's a compelling reason for someone to want to take action, right there and then.

Myth Number 5: The Internet Will Do the Hard Work.

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Albert Einstein.

Are you insane?

Recruitment isn't as easy as posting a job advert online, then waiting for suitable candidates to pour through your door; it just doesn't work like that.

Top recruiters will always track the success (or failure) of a job advert, constantly testing, adapting and amending it to improve upon results.

Recruiter Pro Tip 5 Record the results of each job advert, including:
  • The number of views.
  • The number of applications.
  • The relevancy of the applications.
  • The number of interviews.
  • The cost per applicant
  • The cost per hire.
  • Staff retention.
Our previous blog 4 Recruitment Metrics Every Company Needs to Measure goes into more detail. Of course, tracking results is much easier with the help of an applicant tracking system (similar to a CRM system, but used solely for recruitment).

Myth Number 6: Applicants Will Jump Through Hoops.

Granted, sending applicants to a compulsory application form, online aptitude test or other such task will push some of your less committed (and possibly time-wasting) applicants to drop off, early in the process.

But people don't like jumping through hoops...

Recruiter Pro Tip 6 They certainly don't like being tricked into them! If an applicant applies via a job advert and is then sent directly through to an online application form without warning, they're bound to feel a little put out. Also, if they don't have time at that moment then they may with good intentions, save the application till later...and inevitably forget altogether!

Your job advert (and recruitment process in general) should create as little friction as humanly possible for the applicant and a surprise form could be the breaking point.

Take away the hassle, allow applicants to apply with just their CV and your response rate will soar.

(Of course, this does mean that you're more likely to receive irrelevant applications, so it's about striking a balance - that's where your testing and reporting comes in!)


The truth is, writing a job advert is a form of marketing.

It's all about getting the right message, to the right people, through the right medium and it's no mean feat.

  • Create an ideal candidate profile (what type of person are they? What are their likes and dislikes?)
  • Create your job advert with that profile in mind (will it be fun, serious, technical or straightforward?)
  • Sell the position and company (are you an employer of choice? What are the benefits of applying?)
  • Give enough information, without bombarding your candidates.
  • Make the process as easy as possible for applicants.
  • Keep an eye on results to ensure your process is working (and if it's not, change things!)

Of course, you could always get a helping hand from a trusted recruitment agency...

Experienced in all of the above and more, (we've been doing this since 2002) we're pretty much the experts at writing compelling job adverts that attract and convert the right people for every role, industry and business.

At the very least you'll save time, money and resources finding a new superstar staff member.

Good luck!

Coburg Banks - Multi-Sector Recruitment Agency
We help great people get brilliant jobs in top companies.

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