Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

Write Great Job Adverts and Attract World-Class Staff: A Checklist of the 10 Essentials.

By Mark Wilkinson | Jul 13, 2015 | Attracting Staff
facepalm gif

When we see ‘salary negotiable’…

As you can imagine, recruitment consultants often get approached by hiring managers as a “last resort.”

When all else fails (and they simply can’t find the right staff member) they’ll ask us what on earth they’re doing wrong and it usually comes down to one thing…their job advert.

There are a million things that could go wrong with a job ad – that’s why we’ve devoted an entire blog to all of the little tiny intricacies and insider secrets that hiring managers often don’t know about – but sometimes it’s important to just go back to the basics.

There are just 10 basic features that you absolutely must include in your job advert, whether it’s going to be creative and captivating, simple and sleek or friendly and fun.

Those 10 features are…

1. A Searchable Job Title.

It’s the most basic of errors, but it’s one that is repeated time and again.  Keep the job title you use for your ad simple, searchable and straightforward.

A lot of companies have adopted their own unique job titles which aren’t common in the market – that’s fine, but the job title you use on your advert must reflect something that people will actually search for (or no one will ever find it!)

For example, IT candidates won’t be searching for jobs such as “digital wizards”, “marketing Jedis” and “code ninjas.”  Instead they’ll be searching for “developers” and other such titles.

Too much supposed ‘creativity’ can and will completely destroy your recruitment campaign.  You need to reverse engineer your role and your advert, and use the job title that will get searched for the most to maximise your potential audience.Job advert advertising for 'code ninjas'

If you want some job title inspiration, do a simple search on a job board like Total Jobs, Jobsite, or Indeed and see what similar companies call the same roles.

2. A Specific Location.

Always include the location and be specific (especially if you’re located in a huge city like London).  People want to know exactly where they’re going to be working.

They’ll be planning things such as where they’re going to have their lunch, how easy is it to get out to buy Christmas presents, etc.  So be explicit.

Recruiter Pro Tip

The job boards are pretty clever these days and allow you to use a postcode when you’re posting your job.

Their system then allows candidates to search within a certain radius of where they live to ensure that they only see jobs that are within a comfortable commutable distance for them.

You can use the body copy of the advert to explain where your offices are and if anything sets them aside from your competition.  “Award-winning offices” will certainly get more attention than ‘ideal location’.

3. The Salary.

Would YOU apply for a job if you didn’t know the potential salary?

Neither would most job seekers.

A job advert with Salary: 'available on request'Recruiter Pro Tip:

The dreaded job advert cliché ‘salary negotiable‘ will do serious damage to your job advert conversions.

It immediately breeds suspicion and in candidates’ eyes roughly translates to ‘I’ll pay you as little as possible’

Oh and “available on request” is just as suspicious and frustrating!

The truth is that withholding the salary, will cause you 3 major problems…

1. You’ll lose the ability to target a large number of candidates:

The larger job boards, such as Jobsite, have a ‘Jobs-By-Email’ database.

Every morning, relevant jobs are emailed to appropriate candidates, who view them online and apply if they think they’re suitable.  This process yields nearly 50% of Jobsite’s applications.

If  you don’t include a salary on your role, then the vacancy will be eliminated from the process, as it’s considered to be giving poor user experience to their candidates.

Individuals want to know everything about the role and things don’t get much more important than salary.

2. You’ll waste time on inappropriate candidates, who haven’t reached the level of skill worthy of that salary yet.

If no one knows what the salary is  you’re bound to receive applications from under-skilled candidates…that’s just frustrating for you and them.

3. You’ll waste time on inappropriate candidates who are already well above that salary.

You don’t want to attract candidates who are over-skilled anymore than you do those who are under-skilled; they’re bound to turn down the position at a later date so its a waste of time for everyone involved.

Recruitment Pro Tip:

Always include the salary, even if it’s low.  The best performing adverts don’t hide anything.

People don’t want to feel tricked, they don’t want any hidden surprises, they just want ‘Ronseal’ job adverts which tell them exactly what they can expect.

Section Two

4. A Brief Introduction.

Like any other advertisement, your job ad has one aim: to sell, sell, sell!

So your very first paragraph needs to immediately show the job seeker exactly why they’ll benefit from getting in touch with you.

I would recommend writing a 20-30 word paragraph that explains all of the vital information quickly and succinctly, without the unnecessary fillers and jargon.

For example: “Excellent opportunity for a Graduate or equivalent looking for a challenging and rewarding recruitment career, this firm is looking for a confident individual to join their team in the city of London.”

This works well because it’s short and snappy and reveals all of the key information, including who they’re looking for (a confident graduate interested in recruitment) and where they’re based (London).

5. Company Name.

Whether or not you include your company name in a job advert is down to several factors, such as:

– Does the role need to be confidential?
– Are you happy enough with the company branding to have it advertised online?
– Are you happy fielding calls from eager recruitment consultants? (I guarantee this WILL happen)

A big benefit of including your company name on an ad is that it will give potential employees a chance to thoroughly research your company before actually making an application.

Of course, if you’ve got a brand that’s particularly powerful or has a strong presence either nationally or locally, it could be worth shouting about it to boost your ad’s performance.

Not including your company name will instantly lead a candidate to think that the role is being managed by a recruitment consultancy, given that most will omit company name for fear of other agencies pitching to the Hiring Managers!

6. About the Company.

This a section that’s often neglected, but it can be a really important clincher when convincing a candidate to click on the ‘apply’ button.

Obviously how you pitch this depends on whether you’ve used your company name or not, but in either case it’s an opportunity to talk about what you’ve achieved as a business and where you’re going in the next few years.

You want to come across as a professional and successful company who still truly know how to engage and reward their staff, perhaps through training and other perks (see section below).

Don’t regurgitate your ‘About Us’ page with a detailed account of the company’s history – job seekers want to know how working for your particular company will benefit them.

an about the company section on a job advert

7. Major perks and benefits.

Either within the above section, or standing alone, you should have some sort of section highlighting the key benefits of working for your company (hopefully you’ll have some!)

You want to be seen as an Employer of Choice, who knows how to engage and nurture their staff.

Recruiter Pro Tip:

Employee engagement is vitally important for your business.

Staff who genuinely care about your business are guaranteed to work harder than those who see the job as a necessary inconvenience of being human.

perks and benefits
Don’t believe me? Check out this study; it’s one in many that prove the importance of employee engagement and incentive schemes.

Don’t position yourself as an average company, show off your benefits (however weird and wonderful) so that people are genuinely excited about their application.

8. The Role.

Job advert for a general managerNotice that I didn’t call this section a ‘job description’ or ‘specification.’

That’s because the one thing all recruiters know is that you should NEVER repeat the job description on a job advert.

Your job advert needs to be punchy, compelling and to sell the opportunity and reeling off a huge list of boring tasks is more likely to send potential applicants to sleep (and scare them away).

It’s much more efficient to include the 3-5 most important tasks and key responsibilities that the successful candidate will have to complete and remember – make it sound compelling!

You will, of course, get a chance to show more relevant candidates the full job description later on in the process.

9. The Person.

In our recent blog: “Myth-Busting: 6 Lies You’ve Been Told About Writing Successful Job Adverts” we mentioned two of the most common myths of job advertising:

1) Endless details will yield more suitable candidates. Reeling off a list of 100,000,001 necessary skills will just give your applicants 100,000,001 reasons not to apply!

2) Simplicity sells. Lack of information can be just as off-putting. It seems suspicious…’so what will I really be doing?’

There’s an art to finding that balance between too much information and not enough.

I wouldn’t personally recommend including a section of ‘desired skills’ – you can save this for the job description, although some of my colleagues do.

I’d include a handful of bullet points which list some essential skills that your candidate will need to fulfill the role, depending on the seniority and technicalities of the position.

The candidate: with a bullet points of skills


The more detailed you are and specific you are at this stage, the less applications you’ll receive.  That might be your objective, but it can be counter-productive to have fewer people applying to your position.

Remember, you can always rule people out at a later stage, which is often a better place to be in than having no applicants at all.

10. Call to Action.

upload your Cv and Submit your application CTA buttonsFinally, to finish off your job advert, make it clear what they need to do RIGHT NOW.

How exactly do they apply?

If you’re using a job board for your advert, the call to action is really simple – “…click on the apply button below”.  The job board will take care of the rest for you and will guide people through the process.

If you’re advertising off line (and in the current tech-savvy climate where everyone uses job boards as their first port of call, I’m not quite sure why anyone might do that (!)), then include clear actions you want someone to take, along with contact details of where to send their applications to.

Bonus: What Happens Next?

So, you’ve finally finished your job advert and ticked off all of the 10 essential features on our above list…what next?

There are a few all-important actions that you’ll now need to take to ensure that your job advert is a success…

1) Proofread your work. Go over your job advert a couple of times…nothing speaks of laziness more than spelling mistakes and grammatical errors (if you don’t trust yourself – ask someone else!)

2) Follow-up. It’s a good idea to immediately pop an email over to applicants, to let them know what happens next…when will they find out if their application has been successful? When will interviews be held?

3) Make sure your job advert is mobile friendly. Mobile browsing accounts for over 50% of Indeed’s traffic so make sure your job adverts look good and are easy to navigate via mobile. For more information, check out (number 4 of) our recent blog.

4) Make sure your job advert is SEO friendly. When you’re writing your job advert, make sure you’re using keywords that candidates will actually search for; the better your SEO, the more (suitable) job seekers will find your ad and the quicker the recruitment process will be.

5) Measure the response. You cannot just post a job advert and abandon it, hoping it will work it’s magic. You need to measure a whole range of metrics to assess whether it’s working or not. If it is, consider how you can make it better, if it isn’t work out why!

Hopefully at this point, you’ll be well on your way to creating the perfect job advert, but as you can see, in terms of finding a superstar staff member, there’s still a long way to go.

If you’d like to receive weekly emails about the recruitment process and how you can attract, assess and then engage superstar job candidates for your business, click here to sign up to our blog.

Good luck!

- 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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