Getting good people into your organisation is crucial, people are the business. If you want to attract the sort of job applicant who will require the minimum of training to get up to speed, who will be happy with their job, and who will fit into your workplace, then don’t underestimate the importance of knowing how to write a job advertisement. If it is flawed, the applicants will be unsuitable, you’ll waste time and money on the whole exercise and maybe end up with someone you really consider second best.
To get the right message across about what you require, pay attention to developing four aspects of your ad; responsibilities, requirements, the benefits you are offering and what type of person would fit in.
Assess and prioritise the job’s responsibilities
The job description is basically an outline of how the job fits in to the organisation. It should point out in broad terms the job’s goals, responsibilities and duties. This may sound obvious but often recruiters just draw up a laundry list of duties without carefully considering and prioritising them. Include only the core responsibilities. Jobs change over time and job descriptions go out of date. Preparing a recruitment advertisement provides an opportunity to reconsider the job and ascertain exactly what it involves and what sort of skills it requires. The better you understand the role, the clearer your ad will be.
Spell out your requirements clearly and precisely. How many recruitment ads include the requirement ‘strong communication skills’? Running a sales presentation, talking to customers and writing up a proposal are all communication skills but there’s a lot of difference between what’s involved in each. Ask yourself “To what purpose will this communication skill be used?” and write up the ad accordingly. Instead of ‘good communication skills’ it could be ‘ability to develop and present an effective sales presentation’; instead of ‘computer literate’ specify ‘proficient with Microsoft Word, Excel and QuickBooks’ if that is what the job entails using.
The same precision should be used in listing any required certification and personal capabilities for performing the job such as the ability to lift a certain amount of weight, drive certain types of vehicle on the job or use particular types of machinery. It can also be used to specify the type of experience required, such as ‘experience handling accounts worth over £2 million a year’.
Include the benefits, not just the salary
Don’t mention only the monetary reward. While that may be the bottom line it is often just one of the things a candidate is interested in. Job development opportunities such as training or travel, challenging assignments and career advancement potential can attract great candidates interested not just in getting a job, but in making a wise career move. For others a retirement scheme or health benefits package may be important. Applicants for a position in a particular organisation should be interested in what that industry does. So, for instance, offers of discount travel for team members would attract candidates for a travel agency job.
The message about ‘what type of person would enjoy working here’ will come across in what you say in the ad. The specifications might include ‘feeling comfortable in a multicultural, cooperative environment’. The conditions could mention that dress is generally informal. The benefits might include an annual office ski vacation. All these say something about the organisation and provide the would-be applicant with an idea of how comfortable they’d feel in the workplace.
Your recruitment ad is more than just a job description – it’s a marketing exercise that has to attract a pool of suitably qualified applicants who will fit into your organisation. A poorly written recruitment ad could mean being swamped with unsuitable applicants or it could result in too few responses – both of which waste your time and money.