5 Elements to a Killer Job Ad

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Apr 26, 2016
This article is part of a series called Tips & Tricks.

Despite the rapidly changing climate of online job searches, the job ad remains a valuable resource to recruiters. With steeper competition in the digital world, your ad must stand out and be noticed. Recruiters should have fun with this exercise of creating an announcement for opportunity, while telling a story about the company culture.

There are multiple elements to a killer job ad, and each component serves an important function. Here is a look at the pieces to the whole puzzle (and at the bottom of this post I’ve got an example of a good and a bad one):


This is like a handshake. Make a strong impression because they will make a decision about your ad before they even open it. What information do you want to convey, and how do you want to convey it?

Avoid jargon words. They are ugly, off-putting, and unfortunately ubiquitous. Candidates are turned off by ambiguity. People respond best to what they can understand and relate to. Make the job title clear, honest, and simple. Ultimately, you want to tell the applicants exactly what the job is.

Job Description

The description section is where most people look first to gather information about the tasks required and details about expectations. This is your opportunity to entice the job seeker. Essentially, the ad tells a story about the culture of a company, as well as requirements for the position.

Before writing the job description, have a clear idea of what the ideal candidate will be. Once you can imagine him or her, put yourself in that perspective. Think about the people who you hope are applying to this position. Connect with them. Consider what they are looking for in a new opportunity. Finally, ask employees, friends, family, whether or not they would apply to the ad you’re posting.

When listing the bullet points, focus on being concise and ordered. You’re selling this opportunity. Make it exciting and engaging. When listing the challenges that may present themselves, be specific and highlight the rewards that come with the responsibilities.

At the same time, be succinct and order the listing in a sensible way. Wordiness and scattered ideas not only turn candidates away, but also represent a disordered company, making it appear as though the hiring manager or recruiter lacks a clear understanding of work needs.

Experience and Compensation

In this portion of the ad, be clear and specific. Identify every detail about what you want your candidates to have experience in. Did you want your next employee to have a professional certification in paralegal studies or a BA in psychology? Say that.

Don’t leave job seekers wondering if they are qualified for the position. Use your list of skills as a starting point for establishing the level of job experience and education necessary to succeed in the role.

Unfortunately, most job ads list personality traits like “outgoing” and “proactive.” This may encourage applicants to imitate these behaviors even if they do not tend to have them. Additionally, postings will include jargon words like “hardworking,” which essentially mean nothing. It’s implied that a hiring manager wants to consider people who have a strong work ethic.

Finally, when you are writing about compensation, there is a range of tactics to use. At the very least, you must address the elephant in the room. If there is no mention of compensation, job seekers are turned off. So mention “competitive pay” or “compensation commensurate with experience” to show that money is a component to the opportunity.

A salary range is better because it shows that your company is straightforward and transparent. Plus, a range implies growth potential or additional earnings. Follow up with a breakdown of the benefits being offered, but be selective about what to share. Readers are not likely to be as interested in your food-truck Fridays as they are about retirement or health insurance.

Company Description

Remember, this is an ad, not just a job description. You are selling your company and an opportunity to grow with it. The ultimate goal is to encourage the right people to apply.

Lead with a brief explanation about the founding of the company and its current position in the industry. With a summary, job seekers get an idea of the trajectory of the company and hopefully notice its growth and continued success.

Highlight those successes and celebrate any recent accomplishments, such as a strong performance at a recent trade show or a new product that is well received. These wins inform the applicant that the company’s success is ongoing and that it recognizes the victories.

Readers also look for a strong company culture. Include information about the environment of the workspace and how the team dynamics perform. Is it a fun setting to be in? Great, then paint a picture and show applicants that.

Call to Action

So you grabbed the reader’s attention, and now he or she is excited to meet you. What is the next step?

Finish the ad with a direct message. Incite seekers to apply, but make sure to include a clear outline of what the applicant needs to do next and what he or she should expect following the application process.

Speaking of process, make it as simple as you can. Repetitious and tedious application systems deter people. If you have a clean setup, more strong candidates will apply.

Once applications come in, follow up with an immediate response that thanks them for considering the position and states a specific date or timeframe they can expect to hear from you. This is common courtesy, and it tells the applicants that your company communicates well.

Final Tips

This is a fun exercise for your hiring team, so don’t be afraid to express your creativity. People respond well to reading a job ad that sounds like it was written by a human being who has passion. Dull ads don’t attract strong, vibrant candidates.

Proofread your ad before rushing it out to the public. Job seekers will hold you to the same standard they expect to be held to. If you publish several grammatical errors and misspelled words, you are not setting the best example (especially, if you expect to attract detail-oriented candidates).

Break up the text. Large blocks of words can be daunting and discourage people from finishing the ad. Besides, most job seekers skim job ads, so if you use bullet lists, categorized sections, and small paragraphs to communicate in a streamlined manner, more people will see the ad through.

Follow these tips to write a killer job ad, and you are guaranteed to stand out to strong candidates.

What do you think makes a strong job ad? Share in the comments below.


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This article is part of a series called Tips & Tricks.
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