Recruitment Advertising: Why No One Clicks Your Job Ads

For as long as there’s been people, there’s been advertising. There’s a record of the very first kinds of advertising. In Ancient China, it was audible. Whimsical songs played through bamboo shoots to sell confectionary. Melodies that drew emotion. Emotion that drove sales.

In Ancient Egypt, papyrus was used to make ads. This same material was used for ads in Ancient Greece. And in Ancient Rome. In these they used images.


Because, firstly, not everyone could read. So including images made them more inclusive.

But also, even back then, thousands of years ago, they knew the appeal of images to their audience.

Images capture attention. They intrigue.

Which is the main intention of any ad ever placed.

advertising no click blacksmith

In Europe during the Middle Ages, not much of the general population could read. So words disappeared altogether, with solitary images being used in their place. For services like cobblers, tailors and blacksmiths, not much explanation was needed other than one image.

Audible ads were still used too though. To tell customers where services were, the Town Crier would announce, at the top of his voice their location. Still an ad. Just more widely accessible.

In each case above, ads suited the market they inhabited. They were fit for purpose. Not because they were easy to create. Not because they took less time. Because they maximised effect and worked. They sold wares to the widest audience possible.

You’ll say to me these weren’t advertising jobs. To which I’d agree, but they’re common in their angle. Not many ads you see these days ask for things from people before anything else. They offer.

OK, they may mention a price. But they don’t have a huge list of requests from the person reading. This Ancient Egyptian job ad is rife with aspiration.

Now, pick a job board. Any job board, there are over 100,000 to choose from. And it’s very rare to see anything in all of these that counts as an ad.

What you’re looking at is a job spec.

The wonderfully astute Maury Hanigan wrote here what a job spec actually is. Namely, the fact they “were originally created as legal documents” to benchmark employees.

If you post job specs instead of job ads, you’re less advanced than anything that appeared up to six thousand years ago. And your chances of intriguing any brilliant candidates is slim.

advertising hieroglyphics no click

Anyone know hieroglyphics?

There’s more information now about how to get someone’s attention than there ever has been. Even just from Hunted, you could read this article on job ads. Or this one on inMails. Or even this one on how to sell over emailThere are also courses dedicated to it.

So you don’t need to know hieroglyphics in order to learn.

The mantra a lot of people are taught when getting a ‘new vacancy’ is “getting an ad out should be the first thing you do.”

Make it similar to the others for speed. List everything you need. Do it quickly. Mention the job title a lot. Then pick up the phone.


You might pick up the odd active job seeker. You won’t attract anyone that isn’t desperate.

advertising no click monster

Fight the Monster

The vast majority of job boards don’t allow creativity. You probably have to pay more for the privilege of a photo. You’re instructed to follow a pattern.

That pattern, just so you know, is sh*t.

It’s not doing the only thing you want it to do. There’s no aspiration. There’s no intrigue.

In the case of job boards, you’re competing for eyes. Type in “.Net Developer” into Jobsite and look at how uninspiring the content is. Not only do they all sound the same. In most cases they’re a job the reader is already doing.

Why would someone apply to this? Because they’re unemployed.

Without aspiration, the quality of your responses will always be poor. You might get lucky if you can sell on the phone. But as you don’t know who’s reading these ads, you’re playing a huge game of chance with your own career.

advertising no click megaphone

Where’s your Town Crier?

A Town Crier isn’t seen a lot these days. There’s less need.

But think about who they were. Someone who quite literally shouted, rang a bell and advertised services to anyone who passed by.

This person’s job was: Be impossible to ignore.

What’s your equivalent? Do you have one? Or are you hoping people will simply see this job spec, and be overwhelmed to offer their services and make you money? If you advertise in one place, tell people that’s where you’re advertising. Shout it. Constantly. Ring your bell.

For example, we provide information on Hunted about our partners. That’s great if someone goes onto Hunted and is looking in the right place. But we also say, “Look here.”

We ring the bell. On LinkedIn. On Facebook. On Instagram. On Twitter. We implore our partners to do that too.

The more places companies advertise, the more people become aware. Intrigue builds. They buy. In Hunted’s case, they buy a career. And the exchange for a career is work. But no one offers hard work for free.

Recruitment positions are routinely very similar to one another. So no one joins a company for the job. They join for other reasons. Yet, how many ads have you seen on LinkedIn advertising a job, with nothing on offer other than ‘uncapped commission’ and ‘London’.

If people reading those ads think anything different to ‘so what?’ I’d be amazed.

advertising no click brand

Advertising your personal brand

Richard Whately, born in 1787 once said “Curiosity is as much the parent of attention, as attention is of memory.”

This is what a good personal brand can do for you. You shout constantly, with a bell, on the same cobbles as your candidates. You can even wear a tricorn if you want to.

Those that get interest in their posts that are full of intrigue. Over time, their personal brand’s built up continually. They’ve copied Pavlov, and every time their bell rings, people know there’s a treat coming.

Use LinkedIn video, if you’re good on the spot.

Stop people in their tracks.

Give them a reason to click.

Give them a reason to comment.

Spread your net as far as you possibly can. You could be taking your ads and posting them on multiple websites with one click. But if your ads still resemble job specs, there’s no point.

Maintain your standard of quality and watch how intrigue is rewarded with likes. Likes mean views. Views mean applications.