Guess what? Your job ad is terrible.
Don’t feel bad; most job ads are. Of course, it would probably be nice if the ad attracted perfect candidates. If it conveyed your culture and spoke directly to the perfect person and compelled them to apply.
And it can happen. You just need to figure out how to master recruitment advertising. Here are the guidelines:
1. Stop rushing
The primary reason most job ads aren’t effective is that they’re rushed out the door. Hiring managers toss a job description together and hit “send” before they even reread what they wrote. Recruiters take that job description, jam it into an ad format and publish as quickly as they can.
But rushing your work leads to sloppiness and carelessness. It was true in grade school, and it’s true today. If you need to create a job ad, stop, breathe, take your time and make sure you reread it before it goes out the door.
2. Spend time on the job description
If your job description is terrible, your job ad will be terrible too. If you invest time to make sure the job description is clear and matches the company’s tone, you’ll be a giant step closer to a non-crappy job ad.
The best job descriptions contain:
- Separated requirements and responsibilities. “Three years of experience” doesn’t belong next to “day-to-day website maintenance.”
- Language humans use. At least the humans you’re targeting. If you’re targeting lawyers, you’ll probably sound more formal than if you’re targeting startup folk.
- An awesome company description. In a few lines, candidates should get a feel for the company and the people it employs.
Once you’ve completed your first draft of the job description, run it through a quick check to make sure it’s accurate and contains enough information.
3. Think like a growth hacker
OK, you’ve taken a deep breath and written a job description that isn’t awful, but you’re not done yet. You’re less than halfway there. Now you have to take off your writer hat and put on your growth hacker one.
In growth hacker mode, think hard about how to craft the job ad to get the best results. You’re focused on metrics like views, clicks and conversions (in this case, that’s applications).
To optimize views, make your ad search friendly. Look at different networks and job boards to see how search and keywords affect results. How you optimize for views will depend on the platform. LinkedIn displays search results differently than The Ladders — each network is different.
To get clicks, focus on the title of your job ad. It’s like your subject line in email marketing: You need to excite someone to click open. If your title says “Junior Software Engineer for Engineering Firm,” you might get nothing but yawns. Spice it up. Stand out from the crowd. Don’t be afraid to take risks, and A/B test your titles to see which performs best.
To get conversions, ensure your job ad reads well and clearly conveys your message. You did a lot of this when you wrote your job description, but now think like a candidate. Skim the ad. Did you “get” it? Was it interesting? Even better, have someone (like a candidate) skim it and tell you their impression. You might find yourself rewriting a bit.
And make it easy for candidates to apply. The best-optimized job ad in the world is useless if it’s hard to apply.
4. Location, location, location
Time to change hats again. Remove growth hacker and put on real estate agent — a virtual agent. Your well-crafted and optimized job ad won’t help if your target candidates can’t find it. (Click here to tweet this thought.)
Do a little online research. Tons of articles and discussions focus on where sales, marketing, accounting and tech candidates look for jobs. A quick online search for your role and industry will help you figure out where your job ad belongs. Once you know, post it there.
Being a recruitment advertising master does take more time and effort than posting a few rushed paragraphs on the most popular job boards. But taking the time to master recruitment advertising will get you something special: the right candidates and the certainty you didn’t waste your time.
Michael Overell is the CEO and co-founder of RecruitLoop, an online recruitment marketplace based in San Francisco and Australia. A former McKinsey Consultant, Michael is passionate about startups, health and technology. He surfs when he can and rides a bike most days. Follow him @mboverell.