How to craft the perfect job advert

We help our members recruit for over a thousand jobs posted on Wired Sussex each year, and regularly give advice and guidance; helping attract the best talent from all across the country.

Along the way, we’ve noticed some common mistakes that companies make that limit the potential for their adverts to reach and attract the right calibre of candidates.

With that in mind, here are our top tips (and the pitfalls to avoid!) when putting together your next job advert:

Write an advert, not a description
There’s a distinct difference between the purpose of an advert and the role of a job description. A job description is designed to inform employees of exactly what their job entails. Whilst your job advert should be based around what you can offer the candidate – after all, it’s an advertisement, and it needs to entice people to find out more about your company and consider applying. Think of it like a newspaper ledeyou want to hook readers early!

Remember, if you’re concerned about leaving anything out, you could always link applicants to a full job description within the advert; one that itemises the responsibilities of the role but in a way that doesn’t break the flow of your advert.

Don’t waffle – keep it succinct
People have a limited attention span while browsing online. Microsoft Corp. looked into the effects of concentration when browsing online and found that people lose interest after just eight seconds online – that’s one less than your average goldfish! – so you need to make those seconds count. Often companies will try and cram too much information into their adverts. This can backfire, as the role will appear overwhelming and deter job seekers from applying.

Try not to dilute what’s really exciting about the opportunity by overloading it with unnecessary information.

Advertise the salary
I simply can’t stress this enough; jobs that advertise salaries perform much, much, better online. And it makes sense when you consider that a good application will probably have taken someone a few hours to write, so when you give no indication of the salary, they will be less likely to spend their time on applying.  – or worse yet, they’ll just assume you’re offering below average salaries.

If you’re worried about restricting yourself to a fixed amount, you can always give a range (dependant on experience) or say circa £X amount.  At least that way, everyone knows where they stand, and you’ll just be hearing from those genuinely interested in the role.

Also, if you’re unclear of what you should be paying, get in touch. We can give insight by helping benchmark salaries for you.

It’s not all about the salary…
Think about what you can offer jobseekers in return for their skills. It’s a really competitive market for talent, and you need to remember that as much as candidates need to impress – you also need to create a good impression. So, think about what you can provide alongside just the salary – perhaps you’ve regular team socials, a staff development budget, good holiday entitlements, flexible working hours, or the opportunity to work on unique projects.…  

A good salary is a start, but it’s rarely enough to attract the best applicants.

Consider what’s ‘essential’ and what’s ‘desirable’
When giving an overview of the role think carefully about the skills you consider to be truly essential. Remember, every ‘essential requirement’ you list will likely mean you lose a few applicants from applying who were missing just that one thing, but in hindsight, would you have preferred to have still heard from them? If the answer is yes, then perhaps it’s a ‘nice to have’ rather than an ‘essential’ requirement of the role.

Avoid language that’s gender bias
It can be really easy to exclude people by using gender encoded language in your adverts. This can massively limit your potential to reach a wide audience and can even foster diversity issues within your businesses.

There are loads of great tools online that can help you check whether your advert has subtle linguistic gender-coding, such as Textio or Gender Decoder check out this blog post for more advice on the matter.

Also, following the point above, did you know research shows that women are unlikely to apply for jobs unless they meet 100% of the criteria, while men will typically apply after hitting just 60%?

Short & simple job titles
Job seekers will likely be scanning through loads of adverts together to quickly identify the leads they plan to revisit and properly read later. Therefore, the tile of your job needs to make sense immediately and we find those that perform best online are the ones that are super direct and don’t conflate the purpose of the business with that of the job role.

The magic formula is: ‘level of experience’ + ‘area of expertise’e.g. Senior Ruby Developer, Junior Copywriter etc…

Tell your company story
Job seekers will be trying to gauge what it’s like working at your business. So, give them a hand and provide some fun tidbits on the company culture. Saying you have monthly team outings, a swanky coffee machine or regular yoga sessions may seem unnecessary, but it helps paint a more memorable picture, as will talking about some of the exciting clients and projects you’ve worked on!

Location is important
Unfortunately for some, the location of your business can be a big factor in the number of applicants you receive. Yes, an office in Brighton is a selling point, but don’t avoid talking about where you are based if you’re further afield.

Think of your location from a job seekers perspective; they are likely trying to figure out what their commute time will look like. So, if the office is based in a remote location talk about the positives: are you surrounded by beautiful countryside? Close to a train station? Have onsite parking?

Career progression
Talk about the opportunities for progression within the role. Do you offer staff development and support? Is there a clear path to promotion? Nobody wants to feel like they’re hitting a dead-end, so explain what you can do to help job seekers progress within their career.

Get a second opinion
Once you’ve drafted the advert, try to find someone to have a read and give you some impartial feedback, as it can be easy to miss things you assumed would be obvious to readers otherwise.

Just a quick reminder: we’re always happy to help members with their adverts – so give us a shout if you’d like to discuss the position before posting : )

Give a great customer experience
Think about the impression you give applicants when they apply and look for improvements you can make. Why not treat your recruitment strategy like you would your sales funnel? If you get a high-quality application, don’t wait a week to respond, as they may get snapped up quickly.

You want to review each interaction you have with applicants to ensure you are creating a positive impression and keeping job seekers invested throughout the whole recruitment process.

Consider sending confirmation emails to everyone who applies, outlining the next steps of the application process and give clear dates on when they should expect to hear back from you. And if they’re not successful, offer feedback and guidance. Just because they weren’t right for you this time around, doesn’t mean you won’t find a role in the future they’d be perfect for. Also, you never know, they might even recommend you to others!

Recap why they should apply
Finally, you should close your advert by summarising why it’s a great job opportunity and leave readers with a call-to-action to apply.

If you are interested in finding out more about how Wired Sussex can help find great people to grow your business, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Member Services Coordinator Mia: mia@wiredsussex.com.

Also, if you are about to recruit, be sure to check out our massive Spring Deal here

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