How to write effective job adverts

Writing job adverts to post online can be a drag, often taking a lot of time and effort for what seems to be very little return.

Most employers end up using the same ‘vanilla-styled’ adverts over and over again to make things as easy as possible. Maybe not unsurprisingly, the response to these fairly ‘boring’ adverts is often minimal.

So how can you ensure your job adverts stand out from the rest?

In reality, there are many ways to optimise your online job postings, most of which are free and quite simple to put in place. Here are some of the most important things you should be doing.

How to make your job posting show up in more searches

If you are posting to online job boards, the key is to ensure your jobs are visible in as many job seeker searches as possible. On most job boards, you will be competing with thousands of other jobs in Cambridge, most of which have been posted by recruitment agencies, and are optimised to ensure maximum results. So here’s what you need to do to compete:

Make sure the job title you use is both accurate and industry standard. Most job board search engines will return matching results based on exact matches. So, if you are looking for a ‘Sales Engineer,’ make sure this is the title of the advert. Sounds obvious, I know, but too many companies try to come up with creative and often ‘unique’ titles for their jobs. For example, ‘Sales Engineer’ becomes ‘Customer Engagement Engineer.’ If this is not what a job seeker would be searching for, chances are your advert will not show up very high in the search rankings.

Always make sure your job titles are spaced correctly. For example, Sales / Marketing Executive as opposed to Sales/Marketing Executive. If you don’t space your title out, two things will happen: firstly some search engines will see ‘sales/marketing’ as one word and will not search for them independently; secondly the title looks more crowded and, on a page of lots of job adverts, can quickly be overlooked.

Keyword repetition is also essential. If you are looking for a Python / Linux Software Engineer, then you need to mention Python, Linux, Software, and Engineer as many times as you can, without your job advert looking artificial. For example, instead of saying ‘In this job, you will….’ you should always use the title, so, ‘In the job of Python / Linux Software Engineer you will….’

How to make sure more people actually read your adverts

Now that you are ‘dominating’ the search results on the jobs boards, you need to make sure your initial job details and job title stand out enough to make people click through to the full advert. It would be easy (and wrong) to assume that job seekers just start at the top and work their way through all the adverts in front of them. Research has shown that it’s this point that is often the most vital to getting people to apply. So, how can you maximise your click-through rate?

Creative job titles. I know, I know. We just told you job titles should be accurate and industry standard, so how can they now be creative? Well, look at the below examples:

  • Sales Engineer
  • Sales Engineer (Amazing tech startup + share options)
  • Sales Engineer

Imagine this is a simple list of jobs in Cambridge, as displayed in a job board search results page. Which job do you think will get the most clicks? Being creative doesn’t mean exotic job titles, just more info to hook the reader in. It could be a mention of the industry you’re company works in, or the benefits you have on offer, or some ‘tongue in cheek’ comment to catch the readers eye (e.g., Sales Engineer – ‘Second-hand car salesman need not apply!’). The point is it needs to be different to the other adverts listed alongside it.

Make sure your job title is not too long! Again, fairly obvious, but after the previous point, it needs to be said. While adding creativity to your job title will do wonders, make it too long and people will just see it as tedious or poorly written. So, while there is no magic number, try to keep your title between 45 – 65 characters.

Make sure you use brackets to separate your actual job title from the extra info. As in the example above, Sales Engineer (Amazing tech startup + share options), brackets are needed to make this work. Using brackets does two things. Firstly, it allows the job board search engine to find the job title easily and get your job in as many search result listings as possible. Secondly, it is easy on the eye and allows readers to easily and quickly differentiate between the title and the extra ‘juicy’ selling points.

How to ensure more people apply to your adverts

Your job title is now optimised correctly for online job boards, and your advert is getting lots more views. The next step is to make sure all those job seekers feel compelled to apply for your job. As with the points already listed above, there are some straightforward things you can do to make this happen.

Make your job advert is easy to read. Job seekers will often only ‘skim read’ an advert when they first click through to it. Much like a CV, if it doesn’t grab their attention in the first 20-30 seconds, chances are they will hit the back button and move on to the next advert. So, you need to make sure the job seeker can find all the details they want quickly and easily. You can accomplish this by structuring your job with simple headings like job, responsibilities, and requirements. Adding structure doesn’t mean being boring, just make it easy for job seekers to follow.

Keep it to the point! Nobody wants to read an overly long advert, so, make sure you are succinct and to the point. After a short paragraph on the company and the job, use bullet points to demonstrate the skills and experience you require. Mention the most important aspects of your benefits package, but not all 25! Bear in mind that most job seekers will be viewing your advert on a mobile device, so short and punchy wins every time!

Have a conversation with the reader. Most adverts talk about ‘the successful candidate’ or ‘the right person,’ instantly implying it will be someone other than the reader. Get out of that habit now! The advert should be written in a warm and friendly manner, directly engaging with the job seeker. Replace the above with ‘you will be doing ….’ or ‘you will have the chance to…’ and see how much more appealing the advert becomes.

In summary

All of the points we have discussed above will go a long way to help you maximise the impact your job adverts will have. Most of these ideas and techniques are quick and easy to implement and will drastically improve your conversion rate from views to applications. What you need to do now is be strict and implement these points, not just on future adverts, but on all the adverts you already have live!