How To Write A Winning Job Ad

In most cases as a Recruiter, you have to be versatile.

And while I hate the term ‘spinning plates’ it is the target.

Ironically, growing up, the only people I saw actually spin plates were people dressed as clowns, but enough of that, if you want more similarities like that, just head to LinkedIn.

It seems, by and large, one plate not spun with the same ferocity as others is the advertisement plate.

There is, without doubt, a deficiency of people in recruitment who can write well. Even something as short as a job ad.

There are a few reasons for this.

Firstly, time.

There’s often simply not the time to sit down and think of great copy (words) that will sell to someone without being able to converse over the phone.

Secondly, who’s supposed to be teaching you this stuff?

I’d wager your Manager isn’t a great writer and has instructed you to copy (plagiarise) an ad that’s done well in the past.

Thirdly, it’s not easy.

It takes a long time to be good at writing and there are probably more critical things on your schedule.

Lastly, a lot of the time it’s simply not necessary.

It’s not always the correct decision to spend lots of time write groundbreaking, creative ads that will engage your target audience. And this point is the most pertinent in all of this.

Your network should be the number one consideration in almost everything you do.

So, if you’re recruiting for Labourers, writing thought provoking copy is possibly one of the least important things you could do.

If you’re recruiting Writers, it may be the most important.

However, just because you recruit for lower level roles doesn’t mean you can’t be aspirational in your choice of words.

As an example, Subway call the people who make your lunch ‘Sandwich Artists’ and have even registered the term as a trademark.

Are your roles more highly skilled than those? Yep, thought so.

And for any ‘Headhunters’ reading this who don’t ever advertise roles, even after you’ve ‘headhunted’ someone they’ll want something from you in writing. So don’t rely on the fact your client can come up with something for you.


If you’re a Recruiter who struggles to write an ad that attracts anything more than the same 5 job seekers every time, here’s how you can create a better one. 

How to Write the Perfect Job Ad

Image Image Image

I should preface this by saying the advice herein isn’t about job board ads per se. More, websites where you have a little freedom to be creative. Like LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter for example.

In the ad itself, it may be difficult to use images, especially as you’ll likely be short of space. 

But, I regularly peruse LinkedIn and other websites looking at advertisements where there’s no imagery to draw in an audience.

No massive issue.

Unless of course you’re trying to stand out.

The best writers don’t have to use images.

Which is why I do, with most things I post.

There is an argument for just writing words, if you’re trying to be minimalist or haven’t got time to choose a great picture to accompany your work.

If you’re a contract Recruiter and are up against it, for time, I get it.

In this case however I’d question why you’re posting an ad in the first place.

If it’s a ‘hard to fill’ role and you’ve exhausted the usual avenues, then firstly, make sure your post is seen. Secondly, make it engaging enough for someone to click on it.

If you’re a permanent Recruiter, you’re not selling a job in an advertisement.

You’re selling the life that job will bring to the person who attains it and selling to someone using imagery is easier than using words.

So what images work?

Well, for one, not a company logo.

Unless you’re recruiting exclusively for one of the best known brands in the world, the only people who will click on a logo are people who know, and like that brand.

This means that won’t work for your client, otherwise they wouldn’t be using you.

That goes for your logo too. Just in case you think a logo of a recruitment company will release positive emotions in an audience, you’re wrong.

Those that know you will have set their own emotional response and those that don’t know you, won’t click on it.

Ask yourself: “Would I click on this?”

If the answer’s no, this makes the copy (words) underneath that logo 100% redundant.

Here are a few sites you can look at that have some pretty snazzy images.

And they’re free.

A Spec is NOT an Ad

So, you’ve got a job spec from a client and it’s explicit in the type of person they require. Great.

You now have information of the type of person you need to attract. Think about this person. Who are they? What would attract them?

You probably don’t want to simply copy and paste the content of a job specification before posting it online, folding your arms and waiting for the applicants to rush in.

Unless you work in a market where the candidates outweigh jobs ten to one. In which case, again, why are you posting an ad?

What you’re better off doing is thinking about this person and what might motivate them to click on your ad, let alone apply.

To do this, the way you write about the job is secondary.

First you need to know about it. And finding out a list of ‘skills needed’ is only half the job, unless you’ve got a day-long (or shorter) contract role.

*CLIENT CALL*

“Oh, you need front-end skills? Great.

To do what?

What’s the project?

What’s the project after that?

What’s the team like?

What kind of character would fit well?

What do your current team like about working there?

Where’s your office?

What are the perks?

What progression’s on offer for someone’s career?

Why would someone leave your competitor to come and work for you?”

If you don’t know the answers to these questions (and more), you could be Shakespeare reincarnate and still not get many people applying.

You’ll obviously want to include the critical skills in the job ad, but if the job spec you send to a candidate who applies, matches the ad you placed, you’re doing it wrong.

How to Write the Perfect Job Ad

Context?

The basis of the role you’re working on should dictate how much detail you go into.

Contract placements shouldn’t (in theory) be about personality.

If it’s a more transactional job, the words you write can be also. But someone will still need a reason to apply above and beyond ‘my CV matches this list of skills’.

To purvey this reasoning you’ll want to think about the emotional motivation to applying to, and getting, that job.

Essentially, why should they? 

Yes, money’s one of these things, so it’s important to mention it – and doing so will increase your applicants by a large number.

But you also need to be selling the best parts of the opportunity.

And those, in a nutshell constitute: the business, team, position, location, benefits, management, culture, brand, even just being employed.

AIDA is an acronym that will help you out when writing. Attention, interest, desire, action. 

Talk about the person applying.

Talk about what they can gain from this role.

Talk about why they’d be mad not to look at it.

Talk about how they can develop their career.

Talk about the benefits to this person of applying.

Talk about the dream.

This job is a dream for someone. So tell them why. Then implore them to take action.

Do NOT try to mention key words five times or more throughout your ad. It’s completely obvious and a poor tactic.

SEO doesn’t work like that any more.

Similarly, do NOT talk about what a candidate should be offering just to be in with a look at getting this job.

Lines such as ‘the successful applicant will’ only alienate your audience and are rife with entitlement.

Just don’t do it.


Once you’ve written down all of these things into as short of a passage as you can possibly create, you need to edit it.

Then edit it again.

Then edit it again.

Delete words which offer no value.

Superlatives are normally a good place to start. Words like amazing, incredible, fantastic.

Words like this, I’m afraid, have been diminished in value by over use. So steer clear and pick ones that give context.

Once you’re happy with your ad, track it.

Look at as many metrics as you can, and use it as a template for the next one. Think about where you’re placing it too. As that’s pretty important.

Good luck.

And if you need one-on-one assistance above and beyond this article, why not head for a day’s course that will likely pay for itself quickly.