How to Avoid Writing Bad Job Adverts!

Expert AdviceDuring the course of the past week I have been approached a number of times by consultants asking me for assistance with adverts. Not just by those who are new to the industry but also by those with a number of years experience. As one of them said to me “Everyone, no matter how experienced, can benefit from their skills being dusted down from time to time.” Very true.

Writing adverts is a skill in its own right that once mastered will quickly improve the quantity of quality candidates that apply to your adverts. There are two things that you need to consider first and foremost:

1.   Who do I want to attract? – Put yourself in their shoes, what will attract them?

  • Good title – include keywords and location to increase search results.
  • Good description of role and company
  • Salary/rate (what does attractive or negotiable suggest to you??)
  • Location – suggesting areas where you could commute from will get your requirement in more candidates’ search results
  • Top of the job board – Repetition of the title, location and keywords through the text will pull you up the rankings
  • Write enough to sell the position – yes…even writing an advert will utilize your sales skills
  • Use adjectives and adverbs – avoid superlatives like “fantastic” as this is too typical of estate agents and agencies!
  • Concentrate on the selling factors of the role.  i.e. new offices, great environment, culture, team, industry
  • What are the benefits? Not just the fiscal benefits either, OK?
  • Include the selling factors of the role: length of contract, new technologies, future marketability
  • Make it personable. Highlight to potential candidates what’s in it for them rather than what they must have as skills e.g. “Your well developed C# skills will be further developed…” as           opposed to “you need to have 3 years C# experience”.
  • Make it easy to apply – encourage candidates to phone you! The best candidates will actually read your advert as they are more discerning about what they apply for.
  • Read some of the adverts written by the competition; there are some woeful attempts and some good stuff out there. Where do yours sit in comparison?

2.   You cannot stop “the rest” from applying – Attempting to filter out the chaff is doomed to failure as they are unlikely to read the advert – they will simply apply!

What this means is this: writing adverts with “You must be eligible to work in the UK and have 5 years experience of developing with C# and C++” will not stop those who are not eligible to work in the UK with minimal experience of either technology from applying. It is likely though to prevent someone who is eligible to work with 3 years from applying (who you may find is still suitable) and may even put off the candidate with 5 years experience. The reality is that most businesses (incorrectly) think that more experience will produce great achievements or skill. That is not always true. I know many recruiters with 2 years experience who have achieved more than their colleagues with 5 years experience.


C# Developer / Technical Lead – Leeds

Do you dream in code? Do you seek to have your true potential released in a technical environment? My client is a highly reputable organisation based in between York, Leeds and Harrogate seeking a talented C# Developer / Technical Team lead. They are in the process of creating a huge digital library, a system which is capable of storing the nation’s electronic heritage for perpetuity. They are looking for a Senior Developer to head up the front end development team and lead them from a technical perspective. Your solid C# development experience, SQL Server exposure and extensive web services development will be highly rewarded financially and from a personal development perspective.  Having either led a small team from a technical viewpoint or demonstrated the core competencies to be able to lead from the front this is a great role, one that offers un-rivaled project opportunity and the chance to work alongside some really talented staff. The opportunity to develop your skills with a revolutionary product that actually has an impact on day to day life, coupled with an enviable work life balance and a great benefits package make this role very attractive. Please do not hesitate to apply or give Joe Bloggs a call on 0207 0000000 for a confidential discussion.

BSS Field Support Engineer – Germany.

Consider yourself to be a good BSS Field Support Engineer? Do you have what it takes to be a trouble-shooter? Looking for a challenging and rewarding next contract? Working closely with the Operator this is an exciting contract opportunity for a skilled BSS RAN engineer. Your well developed communication skills will be put to good use in transferring your knowledge to the local operator whilst getting involved in the day to day troubleshooting for security regulations and transmission related work such as Ster integration. Your recent experience in BSS/RAN and BSC/TC support and maintenance will attract excellent remuneration with opportunities to also earn shift allowances for 24/7 availability. With the majority of the work taking place in South Germany your fluent German skills will be essential! With such a strong Euro exchange rate an excellent opportunity to earn, in real terms, more than equivalent sterling contracts. Please do not hesitate to apply or give Joe Bloggs a call on 0207 0000000 for a confidential discussion.

My final advice on this subject – write your adverts in word and spell check them properly! The adverts I looked at this afternoon that are live on job boards and agency websites do contain spelling mistakes. Some even contain sentences that do not even make sense. Take the time to write a good advert (10 minutes is all it would take!) and the results will be well worth it. I will revisit this subject again as I know that looking at the job boards many recruiters still run adverts for many of their positions and, as ever, I have opinions I wish to share.

Happy fishing!

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  1. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

    Randy Pena 19 March 2010 at 10:02 am Permalink

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