How To Write A Job Advert

With Halloween disappearing into the distance (and the inner witch in me fading away now all of the children's chocolate has been eaten), I have started to notice how many things are disguised in everyday life.  Did you know for example that your post box is not a post box, but an insect lovers selection box?  Cocoa beans (vegetables) cleverly disguise themselves as bars of chocolate - nearly fooled me that one, but 1 of my 5 a day is not going to get away that easily!  Then there was a job description that disguised itself as a job advert.

Have you had a look on or recently?  Over 80% of the job adverts aren't job adverts, they are just job descriptions put in an advert sized template.  This annoys me intensely and makes me question why someone is paid to do that?  It is a job asking to be taken by a robot.

What is the purpose of a job advert?  Is there a reason for it?

The job advert is like a cream cake in a bakery shop window.  It is there to entice you in, to make you want it.  Would you walk into the bakery shop if they just had a list of ingredients in the window?  Think about it, which would you choose? Ignore diets, health kicks and anything which is good for you for a moment, and go with your instinct:

  • A luscious cream cake, all gooey, with silky icing on top, decked with blueberries and strawberries sitting next to a tantalisingly delicious cinnamon bun with shards of sugar glistening on the top.


  • Flour, sugar, butter, baking powder, icing sugar, water, cream cheese, blueberries, strawberries, gelatine and a list of E numbers as long as your arm.

I would put money on you choosing the first option.  Why?  It appeals to your senses.  It makes you want it.  It makes your hand go into your purse/wallet and reach for whatever coins you have.  It draws you in and makes you think, "I have to have it!"

Believe it or not (and based on the adverts on there are a lot of unbelievers out there), job adverts are the cream cakes of the business world.  They are there to attract not only job seekers, but people who might potentially be clients, suppliers or investors in the business.  The job advert is the showcase for the company, for the casual browsers, for those who might or might not want to buy their products.

Why is this opportunity wasted? 

Companies spend thousands on their marketing budgets, making sure they have a good Facebook page, making sure that there is a company LinkedIn page, hiring people to send inane tweets at all hours of day and night and yet they ignore their job adverts.  Why?

Why just put the job description there?  Why not use the advert to draw people in, to make them care, to make them really want to work for you?

Take 2 adverts:

  1. Train driver wanted.  Will be driving trains between X and X.  Shifts include day, night and weekends.  Must be happy to work on your own and have good customer service skills.  Apply online.  Closing date X.
  2. You are stuck in a cramped office, with no view and lousy air conditioning.  How about being in an office where the scenery changes by the minute, where what's over the horizon comes closer every moment and you can be in control of opening and closing your own windows?  Sounds like a dream doesn't it...  Well we are offering you this opportunity, a chance to take control of your own destiny and travel to wherever your dreams take you.  We are looking for train drivers who fancy working in some of the most spectacular scenery the UK has to offer...We take men and women, of all colours and all races.  We do have certain stipulations such as that you must be over 21 and be able to pass a full medical.  Our drivers work a 35 hour week covering a variety of shifts including evenings, weekends and nights at some depots.  If you want a better quality of life, contact us now...

Which sounds more appealing?  Which one will attract candidates who are genuinely interested in the work/lifestyle being offered?  If you could chose between the 2, which one would you go for?

So how do you write a good advert?

  1. Think.  What is the key attraction of this job?  For the train driver role it was the opportunity to be in control of their environment and travel through lovely scenery every day.  For a sales manager it might be unlimited commission.  For a doctor it might be the variety of patients they will see on a day-to-day basis.  For an HR person it might be the chance to work in a high tech environment.  If you can't think of any attractions in the job (for example if you are hiring a toilet cleaner), then go and ask someone who is doing that job what they like about it.  Chances are that they will come up with something you would not have even considered.
  2. Once you have identified what the key attraction(s) are, think about how a creative person (such as someone in marketing or sales) might try and sell it, if it were a product.  Think about what words and phrases they might use to make it sound appealing.  If you get stuck, approach one of your colleagues in marketing or sales, most will be flattered to be asked and if you can chat over a coffee as well, you are hitting two birds with one stone (coffee and conversation).
  3. Then become that creative person (if you aren't already).  Write it down, read it out loud, ask yourself if it would make you want to apply?  If not, start again.
  4. Then test it on someone else.  Does it make them want to apply?
  5. If yes, you have your advert.  If not, time to ask for help.

Fremantle HR Consultancy can help you write job adverts and job descriptions.  We will need to be able to talk to both hiring managers and people who are doing the job, but we guarantee that your job adverts will start to attract candidates who genuinely want to work for you and are not just applying because they need a job and any job will do.  The candidates who will apply as a result of our adverts will be genuinely engaged and enthusiastic about your company and the job they are applying for.

Contact us now for a 15 minute free informal discussion!