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How to write an awesome job advert

By Rudy Fernando

“There’s a war for talent”. “It’s a candidate-driven market”. “Candidates are savvy”. You get the gist. I don’t need to tell you that your job advert is your first (and perhaps only) opportunity to appeal to your dream candidate in what is a crowded job market. So how do you stand out from the crowd? Showcase Empowerment If your organisational values empower your employees, you should be shouting about it from the rooftops. If your values don’t empower your employees, you’re going to miss out on the best talent – but that’s a topic for another time. By values, I don’t mean something you just stick on a wall; they underpin every behavioural and cultural practise within your organisation. Do you promote work/life balance, e.g. offer home working, core work hours or early finishes?
In our 2020 salary survey, we found that employees valued work/life balance and flexible working (82%) more than any other factor, including money (78%).
Similarly, do you promote autonomy, e.g. have employees manage their own time or set their own goals? Do you promote health & wellbeing, e.g. through gym memberships, yoga classes or Headspace subscriptions? Do you provide personal development, e.g. professional training or language learning? Employees are driven by empowerment and so are much more likely to want to work for an organisation where employee empowerment is evident. Sell the Role You need to get candidates excited about your opportunity! We often get hiring managers to sell their role to us during a briefing so that we can relay the key sells back to candidates. You’d be surprised at the number of times these messages don’t appear on a job advert. If you work in data, insight or strategy, you are probably a skilled storyteller, so use that to your advantage. Think about the sort of narrative which candidates will be engaged by, for example: What is your organisation’s mission? Has it performed well and/or is it growing? Can you remember the reason(s) why you joined? What has kept you there? Why is this role vital to your team and/or organisation? What are the most interesting projects you’ve worked on? Have they had an impact on your organisation or on your clients in any way? How do you see the role progressing in the future?
To give you some context, the Intelligence Group found that 64% of millennials said they would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they think is boring.
Simply put, employees want a role which they find interesting, in which they feel supported and valued, and where they can progress. If your role offers this, state how! Be Transparent In our 2020 salary survey, we asked candidates how companies could improve their job adverts.
Transparency was the recurring theme. Unsurprisingly, salary ranked highest (84%) when we asked candidates about the key things that they looked out for in a job advert. But interestingly, we found that many candidates were frustrated that salaries in job adverts were either vague or completely missing.
The takeaway here is that if you disclose the full salary range rather than just the max salary, candidates will have a better idea of what they can expect and are therefore more likely to apply. Similarly, candidates highlighted that they want transparency when it comes the role description. Specifically, our survey highlighted that candidates want a role description to:
  • Be explained concisely and clearly, without jargon.
  • Be written honestly, with clarity about day-to-day tasks and specific examples of work streams or projects.
  • List key skill requirements and expectations, rather than required experience.
Think Diversely Most hiring managers have a checklist of skills they want in a candidate. My advice is to think about the skills the candidate needs to perform the role. Listing only a few ‘must have’ skills will not only give your job advert more transparency (by being candid about the skills that matter), it will mean that you don’t list a bunch of unnecessary requirements. That means your dream candidate won’t be talking themselves out of applying for your job based on misperception of an unimportant requirement listed in your job advert. If you’re a data scientist then it probably helps to have an academic background in maths or statistics. But if a “2.1 undergraduate degree or above in a relatable field” isn’t mandatory to performing your role well, sticking it on your job advert will a) dissuade potentially exceptional candidates from applying; and at the same time b) prevent you recruiting from a diverse talent pool, which research has shown to limit creative and innovative thinking in the workplace. Finally, without realising it, we use language that is subtly gender coded. Society has certain expectations of what men and women are like, and how they differ, and this often seeps into job adverts.
Studies have shown that women are put off applying for jobs advertising masculine-coded words such as “dominate”, “self-confidence” and “superior”.
Don’t fall into that trap and cut yourself off from a large portion of the talent market.