Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

4 Major Errors People Make When Writing a Job Advert

By Mark Wilkinson | Jan 15, 2015 | Attracting Staff

Have you ever had that sinking feeling when you need to hire someone immediately, yet your job advert has had all the impact of a fly on a car windscreen?

Many people’s job adverts fail online simply because they’re poorly written and badly structured.

Here are 4 of the most common mistakes people make when writing their job ads, and how you can avoid making the same ones.

1. Avoid Sloppy English

Remember the last time you received a barely literate job application from a candidate?  Did you employ them?

This paradigm works in reverse as well.  The best candidates know their worth and will be put off by poor spelling, grammar and sentence construction.  It’s a simple red flag and it’s easily avoided.

You’d be gobsmacked at how many professional recruiters fall foul of this.  Your advert doesn’t have to be worthy of William Shakespeare, but make sure several people proofread it before you submit as it’s easy to miss something, or lots of things, that will haunt you later.

Your job advert is in effect a marketing piece for your business and can positively or negatively reflect your brand – there’s simply no excuse for poor English.

Speeling is important, write?

Getting your spelling correct is vital if you want to portray an impressive, positive and professional image to the reader.

Even the subtlest of spelling mistakes (which might not get picked up on by spellchecks if they are words in their own right) can have a big impact on the context and meaning of a sentence and therefore destroy the message you’re trying to get across:

"This is a fantastic opportunity to develop your carer" is wrong. "This is a fantastic opportunity to develop your career" is right.

Subtle spelling mistake, massive difference in meaning

It’s good to remember as well that spelling mistakes can hurt you badly when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation.

If you make a spelling mistake with the job title of a job advert, which happens more than you’d think, then Google simply won’t find your advert in the first place.

And if you think that’s irrelevant, think again.  86% of candidates search on Google to look for jobs at the beginning of their jobsearch.  You can be sure that other adverts with the correctly spelled job title will therefore be seen by your ideal candidate well before yours.

A simple spelling mistake can make the difference between hiring the perfect candidate and not.  It is really that important.

Recruiter Pro Tip:

Create your advert in MS Word first and spell / grammar check it a couple of times, before giving it to a colleague to proof read.

If creative writing isn’t your forte, search on Google or some other job boards for adverts with similar job titles to yours, and look at how other recruitment companies write their ad copy for some inspiration.

2. Get to the point and avoid job title jargon

A lot of companies use their own internal job titles for roles within their businesses.  Some can be really complicated and technical and only really mean anything to people within the company.

Taking that logic one stage forward, if it is a really awkward sounding job title that means very little to people outside of your business, will it be a job title that people on the outside world will use to search for their next job?

If not, should you really be using it to advertise your role?

The simple takeaway here is to apply reverse thinking and consider which job titles your ideal candidate might use for their jobsearch.  Help them to find you more easily. 

It really is that simple.

The job boards tell us that the ‘Job Title’ area is the most important element of the entire job advert with regards to relevancy, so getting it right is essential for a good result.

So, if you’re looking for a ‘Binman’, use that job title.  Don’t advertise for a ‘Waste Management and Disposal Technician’.  You’ll be wasting your money as people simply don’t search for that job.

Recruiter Pro Tip:

If you need to identify a perfect job titles for your role that your perfect candidates are searching for, do a simple search on a few job boards and see what job titles other companies/recruitment agencies use to find the people you want to tap into.

3. Eradicate meaningless buzzwords and vague wording

Of course you want a highly organised team player who can work on their own initiative and possesses ‘a high level of attention to detail‘.  Who doesn’t, right?

But does it really add anything by putting these phrases in your advert?  Everyone likes to think of themselves in these glowing terms, but in truth they’re taking up valuable space in your ad when you could using more compelling sentences.

A recent Monster survey also proved that 57% of candidates are actually turned off by phrases like this, so the best advice is to just leave them out.

Focus, focus, focus

In the advert, focus on the skillsets you actually need.  When you meet the candidate, then you can decide if they have the right personal and cultural qualities to fit in to your team.

If you need specific skills then put them in the ad.  That’s because terms like ‘computer literate’ can mean anything from sending the occasional email to setting up e-commerce; ‘taking a key role in strategic company decisions’ could actually mean making the tea for the board.

Recruiter Pro Tip:

Be specific and to the point in your advert.  Readers will appreciate it, your advert will stand out in a sea of repetitive drivel, and as a result you should see more applications.

4. Don’t regurgitate a full job description into your advert

This is a really common mistake and is one that we see repeated all the time by experienced recruitment agencies that should know better.

Firstly, just think about the objective of your advert:
To generate a good quantity of applications from relevant, high-quality candidates. 

As tempting as it might be to save you some time, you must never, I repeat never, copy and paste an internal job description into your job advert.

You’re trying to stand out and get applications, so you need to write an advert that will engage your audience and draw them in.  More often than not, internal job descriptions are endless bullet pointed lists.  They might get the point across, but they are laden with unnecessary, internal company details and jargon, and aren’t meant for the open market.

It can make the readability of your advert next to impossible and could actually prove difficult for the reader to understand the major elements of the job and what you’re looking for in someone.

Not to mention the fact that it looks lazy and sloppy, and with job hunters being a canny bunch, that puts you at another disadvantage compared to a company who’s posted a carefully crafted advert.

Recruiter Pro Tip:

When you write your advert, think about the most pertinent and attractive parts of the job that you need to get across in order to entice relevant individuals.

Stress the key responsibilities and benefits.  Keep the advert succinct and to the point.  You can explain the finer details at the interview stage, or you can send a full job description out to people you invite to interview.

Remember this is advertising.  It’s your opportunity to sell the job and entice applications.  Always keep this in mind.


Your job advert is the gateway to finding that magical person who could truly make a substantial difference to your business.

However, it won’t matter how wonderful your premises are, or how incredible the promotional opportunities and benefits packages are if you fail to simply get your advert noticed.

Follow these simple tips and you’ll be well on your way to sourcing your next generation of superstars in a more efficient way.

- Mark Wilkinson
Mark Wilkinson

Mark Wilkinson

Mark is one of the founders of Coburg Banks and heads up the permanent recruitment division of the business.  Every day he helps companies with their recruitment projects, sourcing the very best individuals for their vacancies.  He understands recruitment inside-out.

> More blog posts by Mark Wilkinson

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