How to write amazing job ads that work

Mistakes when advertising jobs in print or online are costly. At some point we’ve all seen painful spelling errors and ads with no contact details. But you need to get more than the basics right to fill a vacancy. Here’s how not to create the perfect ad.

The purpose of a good job advertisement is to get the right candidates to respond. While initially an ad can seem a success if it gets 200 or more replies, it’s much better (and easier to manage) if it generates 20 first-class responses.

As far as recruitment expert and director at Recruiter Hub Judith Armatage is concerned, the job ad is one of the key elements of a recruiter’s holy trinity of documents.

“It will bring together essential elements from the two other documents in the recruitment process, the job description and the person specification,” she says.

And remember, placing job ads isn’t cheap and the more space you take up the more you’ll pay, so it is worthwhile honing your skills to perfection to maximise your return on investment.

Here are five key elements that every good job ad needs:

1. Job title

This is the element that job seekers look for first so it needs to appeal and resonate with its target audience: “This should be an easily recognisable title for the role/industry you are recruiting for,” says Armatage. Meanwhile, recruitment marketer Sinead Canny of Alexander Flemming adds, “If there is an internal name to the role, use a common one to ensure the right people who are searching for the job will find it.”


2. Location

Clearly stating where the job is based is vital. Unless someone is looking to move, people tend to look for jobs in their area, so this is a key filter for candidates. Even if someone thinks the job is so perfect that they are prepared to relocate, they still need to know where it is.

“If the job is based in a large city, mention an area or postcode, but otherwise the name of the town or county will normally suffice,” says Armatage. “If the company is based in an unusual setting or in an up-and-coming area, you may want to highlight this to attract applicants.”


3. Organisation

How you describe the recruiting company in a job ad can play a crucial role in attracting the right candidates. After all, you want someone who will fit in with the business culture, or they won’t stay for long no matter how good they are.

“This should be a brief overview,” says Armatage, “but draw attention to key elements of company culture. For example, if the business has strong green credentials or some other pertinent or attractive feature, this should definitely be mentioned.”


4. Responsibilities

If space and budget is tight, you may only be able to mention the job title, but it is definitely worth giving a brief overview of what the role entails. This can prove vital in increasing the quality of the candidates who apply. But keep it short, simple and clear. Anything vague can actually put people off, defeating the object of explaining the role in the first place.

“Give as much factual information as possible about the role,” says Sinead Canny. “Make it stand out and make it believable. Sometimes ads seem too good to be true. Look at competing adverts to see what you are up against in attracting job seekers.”


5. Salary and Benefits

There are different views on whether to include salary and benefit details, but our experts believe in putting your job cards firmly on the table. After all, what’s the point of attracting candidates who are off the scale when it comes to their pay demands.

“I think it’s generally a good idea even if you state a salary range depending upon experience/qualifications, etc,” says Armatage.

Canny agrees, but points out that it’s important to make sure that the package is in line with market expectations. “Give an indication of salary, ensure it’s appropriate and competitive, and you’re more likely to get candidates at the right level,” she says.

Outside of these five essentials, don’t forget the obvious, such as relevant contact details and how to apply. Plus make sure the text for the job ad is proof read thoroughly as there’s nothing more off-putting or embarrassing that spelling mistakes.

And finally, check that it complies with any legal requirements. The Equality and Human Rights Commission at has plenty of helpful advice on this subject.


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