If you use a designer to create and produce artwork for your job advert I urge you to control their creative instincts - a job advert is advertising a job, it is not a CD cover or a bottle of shampoo.
Here's a reminder of the essential writing tips for advertising and for clarity of business communications, in the context of writing and designing effective job or recruitment advertisements:
Use one simple headline, and make the job advert headline relevant and clear. Normally the logical headline is the job title itself - this is after all what people will be looking for.
If the job title does not implicitly describe the job function, then use a strapline to do so. Better still, if you find yourself writing a job advert for a truly obscure job title which in no way conveys what the job function is, then consider changing the job title.
An effective alternative main headline - especially for strategic roles with a lot of freedom - is to describe (very succinctly - and in an inspirational manner) the main purpose of the role, which can then be used with the job title and organization's name serving as secondary headings.
If the organization is known and has a good reputation among the targeted readers then show the organization or brand name prominently, as a strapline or main heading with the job title, or incorporated in the job advert frame design, or in one of the corners of the space, in proper logo-style format.
N.B. Some organizations prefer not to tell the whole world that they are recruiting, in which case, if this is your policy, obviously do not feature your organization's name in the job advert. On which point - if you use a recruitment consultancy, examine the extent to which your job advert is promoting the recruitment agency's name, and if you think they are over-egging things perhaps suggest they contribute to the cost of the advert, or reduce the size of their corporate branding on your advert.
Make the advert easy to read. Use simple language, avoid complicated words unless absolutely necessary (for example if recruiting for Head of Rocket Science), and keep enough space around the text to attract attention to it. Less is more. Giving text some space is a very powerful way of attracting the eye, and also a way of ensuring you write efficiently. Efficient writing enables efficient reading.
Use language that your reader uses. If you want clues as to what this might be imagine the newspaper they read, and limit your vocabulary to that found in the newspaper.
Use short sentences. More than fifteen words in a sentence reduces the clarity of the meaning. After drafting your communication, seek out commas and 'and's, and replace with full-stops.
Use bullet points and short bite-sized paragraphs. A lot of words in one big paragraph is very off-putting to the reader and will probably not be read.
Use simple type-styles: Arial, Tahoma, Times, etc, or your house-style equivalents or variations. Serif fonts (like Times) are more traditional and more readable. Sans serif (like Arial and Tahoma) are more modern-looking, but are less easy to read especially for a lot of text. It's your choice.
Use 12-20ish point-size for headings and subheadings. Try to avoid upper-case (capitals) even in headings - it's very much slower to read. Increase prominence by use of a larger point-size, and to an extent emboldening, not by using capitals. CAPITALS HAVE NO WORDSHAPES - SEE WHAT I MEAN?)
Use ten, eleven or twelve point-size for the main text; smaller or larger are actually more difficult to read and therefore less likely to be read. Definitely avoid upper-case (capitals) in the 'body copy' (main text).
For the same reason avoid italics, shadows, light colours reversed out of dark, weird and wonderful colours. None of these improve readability, they all reduce it. Use simple black (or dark coloured) text on a white (or light coloured) background for maximum readability.
Get the reader involved. Refer to the reader as you and use the second person (you, your and yours etc) in the description of the requirements and expectations of the candidate and the job role. This helps people to visualise themselves in the role. It involves them.
Try to incorporate something new, innovative, exciting, challenging - people are attracted to new things - either in the company or the role.
Stress what is unique. You must try to emphasise what makes your job and organization special. People want to work for special employers and are generally not motivated to seek work with boring, run-of-the-mill, ordinary, unadventurous organizations.
Job advert statements and descriptions must be credible. Employers or jobs that sound too good to be true will only attract the gullible and the dreamers.
Remember AIDA: The Attention part is the banner or headline that makes an impressive benefit promise. Interest builds information in an interesting way, usually meaning that this must relate closely to the way that the reader thinks about the issues concerned. Since job advertisements aim to produce a response you must then create Desire, which relates job appeal and rewards to the reader so that they will aspire to them and want them. Finally you must prompt an Action, which may be to call a telephone number or to send CV, or to download an application form from a website address. Your job advert should follow this step by step format to be effective.
Your main heading, strapline and main message must be prominent. Do not be tempted to devote 75% of the space to a diagram of your latest technology or photograph of your new manufacturing plant in Neasden.
Headlines do not have to be at the top of the frame - your eye is naturally drawn to a point between two-thirds and three-quarters up in the framed area, which means you have room above the headline for some subtle branding, or - heaven forfend - for some blank space.
The best position for adverts on a job page is 'right thumbnail'. That is, top right corner. Right-side sheet is better than the left because your eye is naturally drawn right on turning over the page, which reveals the left-side sheet last. Top-right corner is the first part of a double page spread to be revealed. Top of page is better than bottom - obviously - we read from top down, not the other way around.
Resist the temptation to buy a half-page or a full page (unless the page size is very small) - you do not need it. A quarter of a page is adequate and optimal in most publications, indeed arguably even unnecessarily large in broadsheet newspapers.
People assume that big adverts produce a big response - they don't unless they are good. A good moderately sized advert will produce just as good a response as a good massive advert. Added to which you can run more insertions of sensibly sized adverts than big ones.
Having seen the layout and design rules above, here are the items to include in an effective job advert. The bold items are those which would normally be essential; the others are optional depending on local policy and circumstances. The list is loosely in order but this is in no way prescriptive - use a sequence that works best.
An alternative approach is to place the advert with application form, instructions, job description, candidate profile, etc., as downloadable pdf or similar files on the internet, and use a smaller advert in your chosen media, containing far less detail, which acts as a signpost to direct people to the website URL. This enables a high-impact relatively low-cost small printed media advert.
Out-placement organizations. (Which help place people in jobs who have lost theirs for one reason or another - often very high-calibre people lose their jobs, for no fault of their own. Also, organizations commonly use out-placement companies to help find jobs for staff who have been made redundant, and this route offers a rich pool of talent and experience).
And in a similar vein, armed forces resettlement programmes. (The armed forces produce a constant stream of highly trained, highly disciplined, technically very competent people. So do the police and fire services. Many of these people retire early, or leave the services before retirement, in which case they often pass through resettlement programmes, which can be a very worthwhile recruiting pool.)
Universities, colleges and schools.
Trade associations and membership bodies.
Internet recruitment resources.
Using headhunters for middle and senior positions.
Please see additional referencing/usage terms below.
Writing a job description helps define the duties a new staff member will be responsible for, the previous experience and skills they will need and what level of authority they will hold. You can also use the simple job description to write a job advertisement.
If you follow the points below, and use the free templates, you are well on your way to hiring an employee to fit your business needs.
Include who the person reports to, and what section of the business the job fits in.
Include what the job entails and list the key responsibilities of the job - normally around eight.
Identify how the person will be hired e.g. full-time, part-time, casual. For help deciding which employment type will be best for you, visit our Employment types and hiring options page.
Include what qualifications, skills and work experience the successful candidate needs to have (or state none are necessary if you're wanting to train people on the job).
These templates help in the creation of an easy to use job description that you can also modify for advertising. You can adjust this document to suit the needs of your business.
Simple job description template (DOCX 36.16 KB)
Detailed job description template (DOCX 36.27 KB)
After you have completed the job description, have someone independent review it to see if it’s clear for the potential employee.
When you advertise the job, you need to consider what type of advertising will attract the best candidates. Options include online, local and state newspaper job ads, advertisement in your shop window, word of mouth, headhunting and recruitment agencies.
Your store window is a good place to advertise for a part-time retail shop assistant, along with the local paper. If you're hiring an IT professional an ad online will probably get the right peoples' attention.
Headhunting involves sourcing a person you believe has all the skills you want for your business. You may have met them through another business or network. You will need to make sure the position will be attractive enough for the person you approach to consider giving up their current job.
Find out who else is hiring and what they are offering. This includes locations, hours, and career development opportunities.
Check what the average age and turnover rates are for your industry/job type (and what sort of job conditions will interest your average worker).
Talk to your best existing employees about what attracted them to the job (and what could make it better).
Make sure you consult employees and colleagues on the job description and advertisement. This will improve the final product and help people feel valued and consulted.
Example job ad for print (DOC 29.5 KB)
Example online job ad (DOCX 33.6 KB)
Job advertisements should strongly attract applicants with clear statements about:
The applicant should recognise what the job is, its basic functions and how it fits into the organisational structure. It should attract the applicant's interest by presenting a favourable image of the organisation.
Consider hiring a disadvantaged jobseeker - using the Back to Work program you could be eligible for up to $12,000.
Tip: have a look at the Job Description Template as it will show you what details to include in the advertisement. Make sure to include clear instructions on how and where to apply, including the name of a contact person.
The internet is a relatively inexpensive advertising medium that can allow you to specifically target groups that will suit your needs. It also means instant access for both employers and applicants.
Online advertisers will require you set up an account with all your contact details and billing information. The information needed is the same as a print job advertisement and you can also include things like your company logo, information about your company, and attachments such as an application form. Websites to try include Seek, MyCareer, CareerOne and LinkedIn.
The aim of a job offer is to allow for a sufficient number of candidates to identify with it, while describing both the open position and the searched profile in the most reliable and accurate way possible. Moreover, the publishing of the ad can be regarded as part of your employer branding strategy (guidelines).
TOOLSOnce the job profile has been validated by the decision-makers inside the company, the following questions should be asked: "How does the target-population search for jobs?", "In which type of newspaper / on which type of website should the ad be published?" and "Who can help us?". Hence, the following axes should be defined:
The presentation of the job advertisement should be at once simple and appealing. As a general rule, the text should not be cluttered up with useless or ambiguous messages. Moreover, some elements are necessary to the writing of a complete job ad:
On the contrary, it is generally very strongly advised not to mention the following elements:
Moreover, the reception of all applications should be very quickly confirmed (either orally or in writing). Your company's image as an employer indeed depends on the the quality of its recruitment process!
Here is a sample job advertisement (Bank Agency Manager), as well as of a sample acknowledgement of application letter to be sent to each candidate upon reception of their application. For further guidelines on writing a job advertisement, please refer the article "How to Perform the Job Description Process".
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