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How to Write Amazing Job Ads (27 Awesome Tricks That Work)

by Sean Falconer | Last Updated December 9, 2016
How to Write Amazing Job Advertisements

Let's face it, hiring is competitive.

Every time you need to fill a new position, you are competing with tons of similar companies, posting similar job ads and all recruiting from the same pool of candidates.

Candidates on average only spend about 49.7 seconds assessing the fit of a job ad, just enough time to read and process about 150 words.

With only 3-5% click-through rates on sites like Indeed, there's a good chance the best candidates are completely missing the existence of your job.

If you want to have a competitive edge, your job title and description is extremely important.

That’s a lot of pressure.

But don't worry...

I've put together 27 awesome tips that will give you an edge so that you get more and better applicants for every job your post online.

Check it out:

The 27 job advertisement tips are broken down into answering 5 key questions:

  1. How do I make sure my ad shows up search?
  2. How do I get more people to read my job ads?
  3. When people read my job, how do I convince them to apply?
  4. How do I tap into new candidate pools?
  5. How can I take my hiring to the next level?

How do I make sure my ad shows up search?

If you are hiring, you are likely writing and posting job ads with online job boards. 

The first step to getting the most out of your online ads is to make sure you are visible in as many job seeker searches as possible. 

It's important to remember that you are competing with hundreds or maybe thousands of similar jobs.

Follow these job ad writing strategies to guarantee maximum search visibility.

1. Put the Role in the Title

Role in Title Example

As a job seeker, the typical behavior is to begin by searching job boards for the type of position you want to be hired for.

Most job boards, like Craigslist, use exact matching for their search algorithm.

This means that your job listing will only show if the title or description contains the exact terms the candidate typed into the search box.

Lead with the role you are hiring for so a candidate will know immediately if there's a potential match.

2. Use the Most Common Terms to Specify the Role

You want to make sure you use the most common terms to refer to a position in your job ad. 

Don't reinvent the role.

For example, if you are hiring for an "Administrative Assistant", don't instead use "Office Assistant".

Using something like "Office Assistant" will automatically cut your search traffic by a significant factor.

You will have plenty of other chances to be creative with you job advertisement, but you can't afford to be creative here. You'll be setting yourself up for failure.

If you have any doubt about what words to use to describe the role, you can use this simple trick.

Head over to Google's Keyword Planning tool and enter all the possibilities into the tool to check the search volume.

The version with the highest search volume is your best bet (see example below).

Google Keyword Planner Example

3. Make Sure to Properly Space Your Title

Administrative Assistant Example without Spacing

In both the examples above, it's much better to add a space between the slash then cram the two words together.

There's two big reasons.

The first is that having the space makes the titles more readable.

If you are quickly scanning a bunch of job listings, the slash can get lost. To the reader, the title may appear messy, causing them to move onto something that's more easily digestible.

Second, some job boards will consider "Assistant/Office" as a single search term rather than as two independent words.

This is bad.

You have such precious little real estate in your title to begin with; you can't afford to be missing out on potential candidate searches because part of your title is never going to match any queries.

4. Use Keywords

You want people to find your job listing.

There's often many ways to refer to a specific position: administrative assistant, admin assistant, secretary, executive assistant, and so forth. These are all essentially the same job and you want your listing to show up regardless of the search term the candidate uses.

This is why it's essential that you do a little "keyword stuffing" into your job description to help make it more findable.

Keywords from Lyft Craigslist Ad
Lyft Keyword Example

Take a look at this screenshot above from an ad for a Lyft driver on Craigslist.

No one is going to read through this monstrosity, but it contains everything that Lyft wants to have their ad show up for. It even contains a version in Spanish in case a potential driver is searching in Spanish.

Lyft places this below the fold at the bottom of their ads because it is really only there to help widen their applicant funnel.

Try this with your next job ad and you will absolutely maximize the number of times you show up in job seeker searches.

How do I get more people to read my job ads?

If you followed the steps above, then you are now showing up in most of the relevant job seeker searches.

After dominating the search results, you need to make sure potential candidates are choosing to click on your job advertisement over others.

Follow the steps below to maximize your click-through rate.

5. Have an Innovative Title

It's important to have the position in your job title to make it easier for a job seeker to find your ad. However, it is equally important to try to set yourself apart from the other job posts.

For example, consider the results below. They all look the same.

Administrative Assistant Example

You might get lucky. Perhaps every job seeker looking for an admin position will click on every job ad, but it's also very possible they are more selective.

Typically four times as many people will see your job title versus your job body. If you can't get the maximum clicks to your job, then you are missing out on a ton of potential candidates.

Check out this ad for a position at Apple:

Senior Armageddon Avoidance Engineer
Job Title Example

They are advertising for a "Senior Armageddon Avoidance Engineer".

This is much more eye-catching than simply "Senior Engineer".

It shows that Apple has some personality and, as a result, they are much more likely to peak the curiosity of potential candidates.

Try adding some spice to your title by including a little more about the role, company, or benefits.

  • Administrative Assistant Needed! Design Background A Major Plus!
  • Administrative Assistant (Full Benefits & Gym Membership)
  • Administrative Assistant | Exciting Recently Funded Start-up!

Remember to have a little fun with your title.

6. Keep Your Title Under 60 Characters

Cut Off Title

You do not want your title to be too short, but you also don't want it excessively long.

Job titles between 50 and 60 characters outperform others by 30-40%!!

On Google, the limit for a viewable title is about 60 characters, Craigslist limits titles to 70 characters, and some other sites like Indeed allow titles up to 200 characters.

However, you want to avoid your title trailing onto two lines or worse, being cut off as in the image above.

For most sites (including Indeed), the limit for a single line is about 60 characters.

7. Put Parentheses (i.e. Brackets) in Your Title

Bracket Example

With regular search engines, adding brackets to your title has been shown to increase your click-through-rate (CTR).

The reason is simple: it's an effective means to make your title stand apart from the crowd.

They work best when injecting a short subtitle into your job heading or describing some special detail about your company or role.

So only use them when it makes sense, but it's a great way to be unique and attract more click-throughs to your job! 

8. Avoid Using ALL CAPS

Shapesides ExampleSource: Why Text in All Caps Is Hard for Users to Read

Some people attempt to use all capitals in their titles to stand apart.

I applaud the effort, but unfortunately it's a real turn off. It feels like the job is yelling at the candidate.

Further, all capital lettering is inherently difficult to read.

This is because with all capitals you lose all shape context for lettering, everything is roughly the same size. This slows down the reader and makes the words harder to process.

9. Try Stating the Salary Range

It's sometimes considered taboo and it might not be the right move for you, but I encourage you to consider it.

Put your salary range in your job title or description. It helps set expectations with candidates. With an attractive salary, candidates will work even harder to impress you in order to get the job.

Lyft Driver Ads on Craigslist
Lyft Wage Example

This is an effective strategy for companies like Lyft and Uber. To attract drivers, they always lead with the potential hourly or weekly wage.

These companies spend a lot of time and money optimizing their ads in pursuit for marketplace dominance. Observing and borrowing from their behavior is a great way to apply their learnings to your own job ads.

When people read my job, how do I convince them to apply?

Your job title is now optimized for job boards and you are getting tons of traffic. Awesome.

The next step is to make sure all those visitors to your job actually take the time to apply.

Use the tips below to make sure you convert those job seekers into applicants and get the right people to apply.

10. Present Your Description in a Logical Order

Job Description Elements

The typical web reader will only read 20% of content and job seekers spend an average of 30 seconds on each job post.

That means you want to start with the most important information because chances are, most people won't read much more.

Following that, breakdown the benefits, requirements, and how to apply.

We have a ton of example job descriptions if you need some help getting started.

11. Chunk Your Content

It's important to remember that most potential applicants are going to be reading your description on their computer or mobile phone.

No one likes reading a block of text.

Bullet points are an easy way to chunk your content to make it faster to scan or jump to the most relevant information for the reader.

When writing paragraphs, try to keep your paragraphs short, 1 to 2 sentences where possible. The most important sentences in a paragraph are the first and last, most of the middle content is skipped. Keep paragraphs to one main idea.

Use headings, bold or italics to help break up different parts of your job description like skills, requirements, benefits, how to apply and so forth.

For example, consider the job description below:

Non-chunked Example Description

The content here is not bad, but it's a wall of text that is difficult to read.

With chunking, this descripion becomes:

Chunked Example Description

12. Talk to the Job Ad Reader Like a Person

When you write your job ad, avoid addressing the applicant with generic language like "the successful applicant" or the "the successful candidate". 

It's a real turn off. 

People respond to messaging that is about them.

Make your job ad about the candidate by refering to them as "you". This puts the reader in the frame of mind to start thinking about actually being a member of your team rather than just another candidate submitting a resume.

You want the job seeker to feel motivated and inspired to work for you. By making your ad more personal, they can't help but respond in this way.

13. Add Personality

Similar to having a unique compelling title, you want your job description to also stand apart.

You worked so hard to get job seekers to actually look at your ad. You don't want to lose them here.

Of course, it's important to lay out the requirements for the job, but injecting some personality into the description will help candidates feel inspired to apply.

It's an opportunity for you to attract the right kind of candidate. If you want to hire an administrative assistant that will be a friendly face greeting your clients, then your job description should not be bland and dry.

Have some fun with the description.

Here's a snippet of a description we used to hire a customer success intern.

We are looking for hunger, excellence, and awesomeness.  You are fearless and humble. You will walk through walls, and your hair will still look sexy right afterwards.

You will be responsible for helping make our customers ultra happy and successful...a positive attitude is a must!

You will also help in every possible way when needed… when fires break out, everybody grabs a bucket, from the dog to the CEO!

Many of the people we interviewed said they felt compelled to apply due to our description because it was so much fun. 

Most ads are pretty bland, so anything you can do to make yours more interesting will definitely lead to better and more job applications.

14. Showcase Your Culture

Corporate Culture

Millennials now make up almost half the workforce. Research indicates that they care more about work-life balance and culture than salary and title. Furthermore, 79% of employees care more about company perks than an increased salary.

I cannot overstate how important company culture, team building, and employee perks are to attracting the best applicants.

When it comes to your job ad, it's important you show your culture rather than state that you have a great culture.

Do you have an awesome office? Do you host a free happy hour every Friday? Do you have a unique tradition at your company?

If any of these apply, let the job seeker know!

People remember how you make them feel much more than what you say. Make the seeker feel inspired or intrigued by what your company has to offer outside of the job role.

You will attract better candidates that match your company's culture. A desirable culture will also make candidates work harder to impress you during the hiring process.

15. Bold and Italics Are Your Friend

Monster did a study where they demonstrated that job ads that bold the important parts, like specific skills and requirements, receive twice as many applications as those that do not.

Also, in a study by TheLadders, they were able to show that job seekers skim or mostly ignore the skills and requirements sections of a job description.

Copywriters have been using bold and italics to draw attention to their main point for years. Bolding parts of text helps enhance the scannability of the content. For job ads, it's great to use this tactic to make the most important parts of your requirements standout. 

We know people are going to quickly scan parts of a job description, we might as well make it as easy as possible and use bold where appropriate to draw their eye.

16. People Love Lists

A bulleted lists are a scanner's dream. 

Lists help:

  • draw the reader’s eye
  • help break up content
  • and like a short book chapter, they keep the reader reading

Like using bold and italics to help draw the reader's eye to important parts of your job requisition, you can further assist the reader with scanning your ad by using lists.

It's important to remember, don't overuse bullet points. A list of 3 to 7 items is great, but 100 is a monstrosity. 

17. Make Every Word Count

The average time a job seeker spends on a job ad is 49.7 seconds. That's roughly enough time to read about 150 words. 

SimplyHired found that the optimal length for a job description is 381 words. 

That means you only have about 400 words to include a description of your company, the job you are advertising, the skills required and how to apply to the position. Yikes!

This is why it's important to make every word count. Re-read your jobs before you post and make sure each word and sentence is contributing to convincing your ideal candidate to apply. 

18. Add an Image

Most Shared Content

Images are a great way to help show off your company and make your job listing more visually appealing. You can show off a company outing, company dog, or your awesome office.

Beyond being a great way to feature your company, content with images is simply more engaging. Articles with images lead to more shares, more comments, and they rank better on Google. Also, researchers have found that visuals help increase the willingness of a reader to continue to read by 80%!

Visuals also help with retention. Job seekers are only spending about 50 seconds on your post and quickly scanning it. As a result, their reading comprehension might be quite low.  A graphic is a great way to make your ad more memorable.

19. Include Video

Video is a great interactive way to show off your office, employees, culture and what it's like to really work at your company. With a simple one to two minute video, you can easily convey ten times the information to potential candidates than you can with text.

Some job boards allow you to embed video, but even if they don't, you can usually paste a link. Simply upload your video to YouTube and use the link or embed code as part of your job ad.

Another great thing is that YouTube is the second most popular search engine. Having your video hosted there is a great way for potential candidates to discover your company.

20. Try an Innovative Design

A unique or innovative design is another fantastic approach to capture people's attention.

Big technology companies like Microsoft and Google have done this successfully, integrating brain teasers and puzzles into their job ads to attract the type of talent they need.

However, a fun design does not have to be just for technology jobs.

McDonald's has successfully used innovative job ads to recruit employees.

Innovative Ad Example

So try stepping away from the prose and bullet points. Engage potential candidates with something unique!

How do I tap into new candidate pools?

Many of the best potential employees already have jobs and are not actively looking. This means you have to be a little creative and go beyond job boards to get them to take notice.

Use the tips below to reach this untapped pool of potential employees.

21. Advertise on Social Media

Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can be used to reach potential candidates that normally might not see your position.

Many of the best candidates already have jobs and are not actively seeking positions. However, if you can grab their attention with a well-placed ad on social media, you might be able to entice them to try something new.

When you create an ad on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, you can use their advanced targeting to really pinpoint the type of person you want seeing your advertisement. For example, you can select job titles, city, or age.  Each site will tell you what the potential audience size is.

For just pennies a click, you could be tapping into a completely new market of potential candidates.

Facebook Ads Targeting Example

22. Leverage Snapchat to Reach Millennials

Snapchat

Snapchat has 100 million daily active users and 65% of them are between the ages of 13 and 34. It's a great place to reach a younger audience if that suits the type of position you are hiring for.

GrubHub used a Snapchat marketing approach to hire a summer intern. They instructed interested candidates to submit their best "Snapsterpiece" and apply to the internship through a dedicated link within a Snapchat story.

It was a great way for interested interns to demonstrate not only their interest in the position but also their creativity. On the company side, it was a great way for GrubHub to reach a young audience and have some fun with the application process.

23. Try a Physical Job Ad

Job boards can certainly be effective, but sometimes it's nice to go outside the box.

Creative Job Ad Example

If you have the budget, try reaching potential candidates with physical ads at a bus stop, on a bus, or even with a billboard. 

Lyft Job Ad Example

In all these situations, you have a captive audience, looking for any kind of distraction. You might strike gold and capture your next great hire's attention during her horrendous daily commute.

How can I take my hiring to the next level?

If you've followed the tips for optimizing your title, description and perhaps trying something creative to reach untapped candidates, you are already way ahead of your competition.

But here are a few bonus hiring strategies that will take you to the next level.

24. Reduce Application Friction

Adding any kind of Applicant Tracking System (ATS) form into the application process will reduce your applicant flow from 40-60%.

This is because most ATS forms require the applicant to re-state large parts of their resume, sometimes create a user account, and jump through other hurdles.

Take for example the form below.

Red Lobster ATS

This is the first step to applying for a server position at Red Lobster. It's a pretty daunting form. Their password and account requirements are more rigorous than most online banking systems.

If there's an alternative job advertisement where a candidate can simply email their their resume, they are going to choose that job over the one with the extra steps every single time.

It's not because they are lazy, it's simply because there are other easier opportunities available.

The best candidates already have jobs or are being approached with other opportunities on a regular basis. If they have to jump through a lot of hurdles without knowing that they have a legitimate chance at getting the job, they will simply move on.

25. Respond Quickly

Response Time

If you have a candidate that looks good, don't wait around to contact them.

Response time matters.

Did you know that response time is one of the most important criteria for renters on Airbnb? It's because if you are booking a vacation, you don't want to wait around and hope you have a place to stay.

The same is true for applying to jobs.

Good candidates are going to keep applying to other jobs and take other job interviews, so don't let your competitors scoop them up ahead of you. Respond immediately.

This is true throughout the hiring process.

It's better to over-communicate than to leave someone guessing. Let them know you received their application and that you will be interviewing soon. If you decide not to make them an offer, let them know you went in a different direction, but that you appreciated meeting them and for taking the time to apply.

26. Use Your Fans to Help You Recruit

Social Media

14.4 million job seekers used social media to find jobs in 2014, with 83% of all job seekers being active on Facebook. These are huge numbers and you can take advantage for free!

Simply use your own social media channels: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and anything else your company has a page on and advertise the position for which you are hiring.

You can even help your post go viral by following a few simple strategies for getting retweets.

27. Stay Ahead of Your Competitors with Mobile

Mobile Recruiting

This one is pretty simple. You likely have a computer in your pocket (i.e. smartphone). Use it to help accelerate your hiring process.

With email or some hiring apps, you can cut down on your response time to engaged candidates by setting up interviews and responding on the go. You can even post jobs directly from your phone.

Text messaging is a great way to communicate with candidates coming into interviews and make sure they are going to show up.

The Final Step...

The final step is simply to go back and apply these job advertisements techniques to any of your existing ads.

You won't be sorry.

Most of these techniques are simple tweaks that will drastically improve the visibility and conversion rate of your job ads.

These strategies will save you money and help you attract more and better candidates.

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Topics: hiring, job posts

Sean Falconer

Written by Sean Falconer

Sean Falconer is Founder and CTO of Proven. He is a proud Canadian and reformed academic. He is passionate about making hiring for small businesses simple, streamlined and frictionless.

 

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