Recruitment & Hiring

How to write the perfect job advertisement

Alex Hattingh /

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Employment Hero chief people officer Alex Hattingh.

As a small business owner, the hiring process is no small undertaking and attracting the right person can be a challenge.

So much so, that sometimes, it can be tempting to cut corners and hire for speed rather than quality. You reach a point where the business is going gangbusters, you’ve got enough (if not surplus) work on your own plate and now you need bums on seats fast to action everything.

Is it ever worth the trade-off?

Investing time into hiring the ideal candidate should never fall to the bottom of your priority pile. It may take longer than you had hoped, but the additional time and resources spent on getting it right the first time is invaluable and will only lead to better long-term results.

Remember, a bad hire can hinder a small business more than it can help it. By hiring with a short-term mindset, you not only put at risk the culture of your business and your overarching company mission, but your bottom-line will consequently take a blow.

Writing a strong job ad is an effective way to reel in the strongest prospective candidates, and from the outset reduce the temptation of hiring for the sake of hiring.

Here are six things to think about when you’re working on the perfect job ad for your small business.

1. Write a strong headline

Catch-all job ads will cost you time filtering through a sea of resumes. An ad with a strong headline is attention-grabbing and will encourage potential employees to stop scrolling and read on. Making an ad easy to digest with key information clearly outlined is vital to attracting savvy candidates.

The sub-heading is just as important. Be creative here. Adapting the business’ tone of voice to give a short, sharp overview of the position with more detail. Never include the job description in the sub-heading of an ad, this will only overwhelm the reader.

2. Be truthful

Transparency is key. Don’t oversell the role because candidates remember the details. In fact, 81% of employees want complete honesty from all aspects of a job advertisement.

This helps filter the wrong applicants too.

Clear expectations of a role including salary and benefits put you and your potential employee on the same page from the beginning.

3. Be succinct

When it comes to writing the job description, keep it as short, and clear, as possible. Avoid long paragraphs and complex wording. Instead, pick out key points that convey your message succinctly. Chances are, your prospective applicant is not just applying for one job, so you want to make yours memorable.

Short paragraphs and bullet points are your best friend here. Make the format of the ad approachable with key-qualifications outlined. Candidates will scan for keywords before reading the whole description, so they must stand out.

4. Company culture is key

The ideal candidate will suit your workplace culture. This means they share the same values and align with your company vision, so it’s essential to include this in the job ad. Outlining the business’ mission as a driving force will set the tone for your prospective employee, and ensure it defines the purpose of their role.

This is otherwise known as EVP (employer value position) and is key to fostering a healthy workplace. The best candidate will smoothly adapt to business growth so you must promote professional development benefits, and explain what they will get in return for their skills and experience.

Studies show that 73% of professionals have left a role that wasn’t a good cultural fit so it is important to be transparent from the beginning. At the interview stage, re-iterate this point. Ask your candidate what they value most in a company’s culture to determine if they’re a good match.

5. Don’t ask for qualifications you don’t need

Key qualifications are essential to finding a suitable candidate, but they must be well considered. Isolating prospective applicants by overstating required experience will cancel out potentially suited people. Make the expectations of the role realistic to target your audience.

6. Call to action

This is a simple one that can easily be overlooked. It is essential to make the application process easy. Spell out how and where to apply and save yourself an influx of unwanted emails and phone calls. You don’t want to miss your prime applicant because of an admin oversight.

With more than a quarter of small businesses claiming to have been stung by a bad hire, it’s vital to know how to attract the right people when you’re looking to onboard. It all starts with your job ad, so having this hit the mark from the get-go will pay off in spades.

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Alex Hattingh

Alex is chief people officer at people management platform Employment Hero.