What may seem entirely obvious seems to constantly be ignored when it comes to recruitment advertising. When you advertise a role the sole purpose, aside from generating awareness of your brand, is to provoke a response to that advertising – in other words receive a relevant application.
So why do the majority of people get it so wrong?
There are so many platforms for advertising these days that it’s very difficult to create any stand outs for advertising copy – but you should at least give it a try. After 20 years of writing adverts we still don’t’ get it right all that often. It’s too easy sometimes to re-hash some old copy and badge it up as something different – but it doesn’t work.
So you spend all that money on advertising slots with major job platforms but you fill it with the same old copy. I once heard an analogy that stuck with me about a lobster pot. Every day you take your boat out to sea, you drop your lobster pot into the water and you leave it there for the rest of the day. The next day you go back to find there are lots of little fish in the pot that you don’t’ want and no sign of the lobster you’re looking for. So what do you do? You simply lower the pot and try again. This happens day after day until eventually you might catch your lobster. So what could you do differently? You could move the pots to a different part of the sea where there may be more lobsters. You could change the bait in the pots to make them more inciting for the lobsters. You could decide that there simply are no lobsters and so you move to consider other fish you might want to catch. This is the same with recruitment advertising – if it’s not working now, what’s the point of “more of the same”? Advertise somewhere differently, change the copy, consider the experience you’re looking for and ask if that could be different.
By prepare we don’t just mean read the job description and look up the company website. We mean really think about what you’re trying to achieve and the audience you’re trying to attract. Write notes, just as you would if you were preparing a short essay. Think about what’s going to get their attention and consider what specifics you want to include to attract the right candidates.
This is the absolute key to good recruitment advertising. Don’t just churn out a list of responsibilities and expectations and try to avoid too many superlatives. Think about how you might “sell” a job on the phone to a potential candidate and try to replicate that in your copy. Be honest. Most people can see through the bull**** and nobody likes to patronised.
Make your content fresh, engaging and honest. Try to get inside the head of your audience. For example, if you’re telling a sales person they will “have the chance to run their own desk” they may be thinking “I’ll get no support from the senior team”. If you say “this is the biggest and busiest and most prestigious account in the entire organisation” they might be thinking “I will have no life if I work there”. Perfectly innocent and well-used statements but both with different perspectives.
Think about asking a question to your readers. It may be that your company offers flexible working for example. So why not promote that as a “hook”? It doesn’t have to be relevant to the role but it will gain interest – “How do you feel about working from home every Friday?”
Now you have their attention you can be more specific about the opportunity.
So think about your audience and be persuasive without being too “salesy”. Show genuine passion for the company and the opportunity and your enthusiasm will jump off the page. “seriously, you’d love it here”
Location and Salary
We’d always include both. It’s even a good idea to be specific on location. For example, don’t just say “Central London”, say “4 minute walk from Goodge Street tube”.
As for salary, don’t put things like “to attract the best” or “dependent on experience”. What does that really say? It tells me that you really don’t know yet and that you’re fishing around to work it out, which ultimately means that you’re not clear on the right level of person to bring into your organisation.
Try also to avoid “salary negotiable”. It might come as a surprise but not everyone likes to negotiate and you may find this could put some candidates off applying.
Be specific on salary, you can still use words like “around” or “up to and around” but make sure you include a figure to save you filtering through the applications at the wrong level.
Diversity and Inclusivity
D&I is becoming increasingly important to every organisation and rightly so. Where recruitment advertising can help is ensuring you’re attracting a diverse candidate base and you can do this in a number of ways.
Consider where you’re placing your advertising- could you look at sites that represent more diverse readership?
Think about the language you use. A recent study showed that adverts that mention you are seeking people to ‘manage’ teams are more likely to attract men. If you change that one word to ‘develop’ teams then you’re more likely to attract women. In order to capture both men and women you would ask them to ‘lead’ teams.
It seems obvious but also make mention of your desire to continue to build a diverse and inclusive workplace.
Recruitment advertising should always be part of your talent attraction strategy. It’s one of the most efficient ways of both promoting your employer brand and reaching a wider audience – as long as it’s done right.
If you follow the guidelines we’ve outlined you won’t go too far wrong, however it’s down to the job poster to get it right at the outset. As powerful as good advertising can be, poor advertising can be damaging and waste time. Think about the tone of voice each of your individual hiring managers is using when they post their adverts. Consider what you could be doing differently. Analyse your metrics and work out what has worked best for you and why. Be honest with yourself, challenge your historical thinking and be brave.
We can help any organisation gain stand-out from the crowd as long as they’re prepared to be bold and open minded to new ways of thinking and working.