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A simplified guide to writing a great recruitment ad

You have just 3 seconds to entice someone to click on your advert. Users of YouTube can skip an ad after 5 seconds. Scrolling apps such as Facebook and even job boards give you even less time to impress as people’s thumbs fly down the page and past your advert.

With a world that is more and more time-poor, and more and more hungry for instantaneous yet simple information, how do you write a recruitment ad that will generate a response from quality candidates?

If you want the best people, you need to start with a great ad campaign. Great ads have cogent, understandable, and entertaining storylines that engage the audience and pull them into the world of your brand. Simplicity is key: Simpler is generally better, and this applies to advertising too.

Here are our 5 tips to writing a great recruitment ad: 

      1. Think carefully about your job title because that is how your ad will be found

Over 70% of job searches start at Google1.  Candidates no longer visit their preferred job board, rather they type the job they want into Google and let the search engine direct them from there. Therefore, use standard job titles so your ad can be found. ‘Receptionist’ is better than ‘Director of First Impressions’ and ‘Retail Assistant’ is better than ‘Team Member’.

      2. Capture their attention by appealing to their wants and needs

You’ve got 3 seconds to grab attention and to inspire them enough to click on your full advertisement2, so a punchy subheading or introduction is crucial. Focus on the ‘What’s In It For Me‘ (WIIFM) from the candidate’s perspective. Why should they consider your job? What are you offering? How are you different? 

Example: “Work where you’re valued and paid what you’re worth” 

or “Enjoy team lunch on Wednesdays and leave early on Fridays”.

      3. List the benefits up top

Hold your reader’s attention by listing your benefits and perks at the top of your advert. Do you offer wine nights, team lunches, annual conferences or extra leave? That’s what candidates want to see first. These days, the most sought-after benefit from candidates is flexible working hours3 so if you can offer that, be sure to say so.

Remember that the workforce includes five generations; Traditionalists, Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z4, and whilst some benefits they’re after will be different, flexibility and knowing their employer will show them they are valued are common benefits they’re all looking for (please note that standard workplace entitlements do not count as benefits).

      4. Keep the body content brief and succinct

The main body of your ad should have just three paragraphs; about the organsiation, about the role, about the ideal candidate.  When writing about your organisation, keep it brief and focus on your mission and values.  

Example: Clown n Co. have been the leading supplier of circus and clown equipment for thirty years, providing stable and progressive careers for our team. Our vision is to heal the world with laughter and we do this by equipping professional entertainers and those who want to have a go, with the best equipment for the job.

When writing about the role, imagine you’re at a dinner party and have to explain the basics in two or three sentences. 

Example: Based at our Big Top HQ, you will be assisting clients with inbound and outbound enquiries about our products and training services to increase sales across your portfolio. You will occasionally be travelling to circus sites, schools and other entertainment venues for sales meeting and demonstrations.

      5. When listing the skills and experience you want, be relevant and detailed

The final paragraph, about the candidate, is where so many ads trip up by not making it relevant to the target candidate, by listing too many criteria or by copying and pasting the selection criteria from the PD. Never do that. Instead, write a personable account of who you’re looking for and only list the absolutely necessary qualifications with 3 - 4 dot points.  

Example: If you love to laugh and love to make others laugh, then this is the role for you.  You’ll need a solid track record in sales and the ability to think and communicate effectively on the fly. If you have previous experience in the theatre that would be helpful.

You will also need:

  • A tertiary qualification in Marketing, Theatre or Creative Industries
  • At least 3 years’ sales experience
  • A driver’s license

A not so fun fact: Female candidates won’t apply for a role unless they meet 80% of the criteria you list whereas male candidates will if they meet 40%. With an overcooked selection criteria, you will drastically skew who applies. So only list the essentials.

If you follow these steps, you’ll dramatically increase the quality of candidates who apply. If you’d like further assistance with your recruitment advertising, feel free to reach out.

A simplified guide to writing a great recruitment ad