How to write a job advert that will give you the edge in the recruitment process

Writing a job advert can be a pretty daunting task if you don’t know what you’re doing.

A task may appear simple, but, when you actually get down to it, it can be tough to break down the intricacies of the role you’re looking to fill.

Just survey a popular job board and you’ll see how adverts are done badly. Like dating profiles, they can very frequently be sparse on detail or mind numbingly mundane and uninspiring.

When done well, good job adverts can strike a cord with candidates and give you the edge in the recruitment process.

If you’re attempting to write a job advert, or you have and it is failing to strike a cord with the right candidates, this article (and our podcast) is for you.


Putting yourself in the shoes of your candidate

As previously mentioned, there are 300 pages of Customer Services roles in the Stoke-on-Trent area alone(!)

And guess what? Too many of those job adverts look the same. They use the same worn-out phrases about how their opportunity is an exciting one. They lead on the features of their job, not the benefits. They fail to inspire. It’s all, well, rather depressing.

I’m here to remind you, dear reader, not to be that guy or girl. You’re built differently, aren’t you? You offer something far more than just a job.

So start acting like it.

Just posting a long list of roles and responsibilities won’t cut it. You should be breaking down the uniqueness of this role and your company. If you’re recruiting on behalf of someone, you should be getting under the skin of their employees.


Where are businesses currently going wrong when writing a job advert?

There is an art to writing a good job advert and it should be thought of as a marketing exercise. You’re trying to sell your business to a potential candidate. You’re trying to give them the feelz. You need to be painting a picture of what they’ll get from working for your organisation.


Know thy business.

Yes, I know, this all sounds obvious. But is it? I have already referenced the oceans of terrible job adverts filling up the pages of every job site.

It’s evidently a chronic problem within the industry. We see bad adverts every day, it’s why I’m writing this article and it’s why we thought this topic worthy of a podcast.

It’s not easy. We know that. Thinking long and hard about the role and company, and which elements of it may resonate with a candidate is a challenge. It may be one that you’re unable to undertake alone.


Think about what makes your business tick and then go from there.

A question to ask yourself is why would someone leave their current gig for yours? Why would someone contemplate going through the uncertainty and potential stress to work for you?

When you have the answer to this question, you then have the foundation of your advert; now you have to build upon it.

People like to stuff their adverts full of adjectives, the word ‘exciting’ being a serial offender: “We have an exciting opportunity to join our growing team”.

That looks familiar, doesn’t it? That’s because it is.

I once saw the word ‘exciting’ used in a job advert for a librarian. Now, before I receive an angry email from the head of The National Association of Librarians, I’m not saying being a librarian isn’t exciting – it very well might be for some people.

What I’m saying is you need to tell the reader why your opportunity to become a librarian is ‘exciting’, if that’s a word you want to use.

For example, does being a Librarian at your library give you access to amazing books not found anywhere else in Britain? Does it also mean you get to hold a reading club for local disadvantaged children once a fortnight? Does it mean you get free Chocolate Biscuits?

All of this is important. It showcases what the role is about. The reader can imagine what daily life is like as a librarian at your library.

She or he already knows that they’ll have to take books back from the public and place them in the right place on the shelves. Why would you lead with that?

You talk about the benefits before you start churning out roles and responsibilities. I drone on about this in more detail during the podcast – honing in on the specifics and distancing yourself from the mundae nature of most other job adverts puts you in an advantageous position!


Let me give you another example.

You’re recruiting an Operations Manager and you offer flexible start and finish times. You also offer an opportunity for your employees to study while they work, maybe you’ll even pay for them to increase their knowledge.

On Friday, it is ‘Pizza Day’. Everybody brings their favorite pizza into the office BUT anyone who brings a pizza with pineapple on the top gets docked three weeks wages (that last bit is a joke).

You get the idea, don’t you? You’re painting a unique picture of your company; you’re not just simply telling the reader your role is “unique” and then moving on to what they will have to do if they’re lucky enough to get it.

All of the above shows a potential employee that you’re the right kind of company or person to work for, and as Steve iterates in our latest episode, it’s these things that ensure you stand out.

Don’t be afraid, however, if, like us, you’re recruiting for a role you’re not too familiar with to go and see what the company looks like and speak to those already working in the role (or in similar positions).

This experience is invaluable when concocting the perfect job advert. It gives you a perspective you might have if you don’t engage with the vacancy in this way.

Think of yourself as a detective, you know, someone cool like Luther. You’re visiting the scene of the crime to get as much information as possible. Ask questions. Get a feel for the vibe. See what makes the company tick and discover why the people who work there keep showing up.

You may even notice things those who work there may not realise. This exercise can be so potent.

“Wait. You guys have got free Costa Coffee machines dotted around the office? We need to tell people about this!”.


Niche your job advert down

Get comfortable with narrowing your advert towards a defined persona. Think about what the person you want to attract looks like? What are their interests, past experiences, or potential skills?

As any marketer worth their crayons will say; you must be clear on who and what it is you’re targeting. If you don’t nail this element of your proposition, you risk trying to be all things to all people – and thus not being anything to anyone.


Involve the marketing department when writing a job advert

If you have one, bring your marketing team into the equation. You’re writing an advert, they’ll be able to help you effectively craft the right message.

I’m told there are such things as marketing principles, apply them. I’m no Mark Riston but lead with a catchy line. Steve has a great example of this in the show for an estate agent we’re working with. Check it out.

From there, as aforementioned, focus on benefits, not features. Ambiguity is not your friend either. Writing stuff like “competitive salary” means nothing. Yes, we know it can sometimes be politically sensitive to write the salary of the role you’re recruiting for but at least try to provide numbers.


To summarize

Aside from listening to the podcast for more context on all of the above, the key takeaways are the following:

  • Start by asking yourself why your company is a great place to work
  • Resist the urge to list roles and responsibilities
  • Advertise the salary
  • Walk in the shoes of the hiring manager
  • Reframe to the perspective of a candidate


Found value in this post? Good! Want more?

Ensure you catch the latest episode of Nobody Likes Recruiters, a podcast dedicated to helping people like you do recruitment well…
Scroll back up for the video or search Nobody Likes Recruiters on your podcast app.

If you have any recruitment questions, we’re all ears. Just drop us an email on