A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post on why I think most job advertisements suck and it’s quickly become our most popular blog post. From about ten minutes after I posted it, Your Job Ads Suck! started generating hits from readers concerned that their company isn’t doing all it can do to ensure their job postings speak to the quality talent they need to hire. To continue this conversation, this week’s post will focus not on why your job ads suck, but instead what we can do to turn them from verbose lists of required qualifications into compelling calls to action designed to appeal to your most ideal candidates.
Getting to Know You
The first step in crafting a killer job description is getting to know your ideal candidates by creating a Candidate Persona. As we discussed in this post, candidate personas are a combination of research and educated hypotheses about what your perfect employee wants. Personas help us understand our audience as real human beings with needs, wants, and aspirations. With personas to empower your job description, you’ll speak directly to your ideal candidate in language that connects with their goals and helps them realize the benefits to working for you. If you haven’t already, go here to check out our post on Candidate Personas.
The Cardinal Sins of Bad Job Ads
Now that we’ve defined our persona and have begun to understand the factors which will motivate candidates to accept your job offer, let’s review the top 3 mistakes most companies still make when writing job ads.
- It’s not about the candidate
This is the most egregious (and most common) of the job ad sins. Instead of doing what most companies do and talking exclusively about what you need, your job ads should focus on what the candidate wants and how working with you will help them achieve it.Through your work on candidate personas, you’ve identified the factors that are most compelling to your ideal candidate. Use this information to craft a job ad that speaks to their goals and shows them how your company is the ideal place for them to achieve the career they need to live the life they want.
2. It’s not specific to the job
Sin #2 occurs with about 85% of companies I’ve researched and it’s understandable. Writing job ads is time consuming and it’s not easy when you don’t know where to start. Resist the temptation to simply cut and paste generic job ads, your audience will see right through that. Generic job ads tell your ideal candidates that this position (and the job seekers who apply) are not a priority for you. After all, you couldn’t even be bothered to write an original job ad! Not only have you lost the opportunity to speak directly to your ideal candidate, you’ve created an uninspiring piece of content that works against your employer brand.
3. It makes you sound boring
Whether you engineer aircraft components, manufacture chemical compounds, or serve sandwiches in a corner shop, there’s nothing boring about working for you! Yet most job ads remain stuffy and impersonal, with little to recommend one company over another. Keep in mind that job seekers may be looking at hundreds of job ads and are fielding dozens of calls from recruiters. How will you stand out? When crafting your job ads, spend time helping your candidates visualize themselves working for you and most importantly, imagining how their life will be better as a member of your team. Use descriptive, active language in your job ads to convey to your candidates the passion and pride behind your brand. Job ads should make candidates excited, not weary. What is yours doing?
The Virtues of Compelling Job Ads
Now that we’ve gone over the most counterproductive qualities of job ads, let’s look at what the best job ads can offer. Using this as a framework you’ll be well on your way to a job ad that will attract and engage the exceptional talent you’re looking for.
They Speak to Candidates in Their Language
This is number one on our list for a reason. First and foremost, your job ads need to speak to candidates with language and benefits that are relevant to them. Forego the buzzwords and corporate-speak and focus on the factors you identified in your persona research. Describe in detail the technology and processes your candidates will be working with. This will help them to understand the full scope of the role and how their skills will play a part.
They Share Employee Stories
Your current employees are a wealth of resources for your job marketing efforts. Speak with some of your top performers and ask them what they find most rewarding about working for you. Not only will this help you craft job ads in with the right tone and language, you can use the best of these stories as employee testimonials to help candidates understand the value of joining your team. Through our research, we’ve found that many employees take great satisfaction from providing solutions to the customer. Just because you’re not saving the world, doesn’t mean you aren’t making lives better. As well as employee stories, consider sharing stories from customers and end-users to help potential candidates see that their work will have value and meaning.
They Use Video and Images
The best job ads and company career pages aren’t limited to static text but incorporate images and more importantly, video. A clean, well-produced video of your company and your employees can help candidates visualize themselves as part of the team and remove the mystery behind the job ad. What do people wear to work? What do the offices, desks, and workspaces look like? Are these people friendly and energetic like me? These are all questions that job seekers have (and many more!) and a video or series of images can quickly answer these kinds of questions and furthermore give you an opportunity to showcase your workplace as a welcoming, encouraging place full of people your candidates will enjoy working alongside.
They Promote Your Employer Brand
In the Information Age your employer brand is vital to your success when attracting exceptional talent. Even the smallest companies have a presence on social media, job boards, and company rating sites. The companies most successful at attracting and retaining exceptional employees are those that embrace their employer brand and actively manage it. Employer branding is an enormous topic we’ll cover more in-depth next week. For now, here are some quick tips to polish up your image.
- Make sure your website, social media content, and job board profiles are clean, consistent, and compelling. Update any old logos, outdated links, or inaccurate company information
- Check company rating sites like Glassdoor and Indeed. Take your best reviews and use these in your job marketing – they are excellent sources of testimonials and ideas for showcasing value. Respond politely and constructively to negative reviews. Encourage your current employees to give you honest feedback about what it’s like working for you. The best answers will help define your employer brand, the worst answers will give you places to make improvements.
- Create an Employer Mission Statement. This is different than your company mission statement in that it’s focused on your goals for your employees. Do you want them to feel appreciated, respected, and rewarded? Articulate these goals into a mission statement that can be shared with candidates and used to inform your job marketing efforts.
- Position yourself relative to your competitors. What is the employer brand of your biggest talent competitor? If a candidate had to choose between working with you and working with them, what would make up their mind? You’re at a major advantage here because many employers still don’t spend time thinking about, let alone working on, their employer brand. This means there’s plenty of room for your company to become the leader and define the conversation.
How are your job ads working for you? Share your stories of failure and success in the comments section below and bonus points if you link to one of your own job ads!
Next week we’ll take a closer look at Employer Branding and how you can position yourself as THE place to work in your industry. If you have questions, comments, or cookie baskets, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!