The best techniques for writing effective job advertisements are the same as for other forms of advertising.
The job is your product; the readers of the job advert are your potential customers. The aim of the job
advert is to attract interest, communicate quickly and clearly the essential (appealing and relevant) points,
and to provide a clear response process and mechanism. Design should concentrate on clarity or text,
layout, and on conveying a professional image. Branding should be present but not overbearing, and must
not dominate the job advert itself. This article relates mainly to designing and writing job adverts to appear
in printed newspapers an magazines media, although the principles apply to other media and methods.
The information must be communicated effectively one way or another to the target audience.
This means that good job advertisements must first attract attention (from appropriate job-seekers); attract relevant interest (by establishing relevance in the minds of the ideal candidates); create desire (to pursue what looks like a great opportunity), and finally provide a clear instruction for the next action or response.
Job adverts written by people who fail to follow these vital principles will fail to attract job applicants of
quality in quantity. I generally try to avoid pointing out what not to do. Positive examples generally work
better than negative ones, however it is useful to point out some common pitfalls for writing and designing
job adverts - the quality broadsheets are littered with examples every week, and you will do well to avoid
If the job title does not implicitly describe the job function, then use a strap line to do so. Better still, if you find yourself writing a job advert for a truly obscure job title which in no way conveys what the job function is, and then consider changing the job title.
An effective alternative main headline - especially for strategic roles with a lot of freedom - is to describe (very succinctly - and in an inspirational manner) the main purpose of the role, which can then be used with the job title and organization's name serving as secondary headings.
If the organization is known and has a good reputation among the targeted readers then show the
organization or brand name prominently, as a strap line or main heading with the job title, or incorporated
in the job advert frame design, or in one of the corners of the space, in proper logo-style format.
N.B. Some organizations prefer not to tell the whole world that they are recruiting, in which case, if this is
your policy, obviously do not feature your organization's name in the job advert. On which point - if you use
a recruitment consultancy, examine the extent to which your job advert is promoting the recruitment
agency's name, and if you think they are over-egging things perhaps suggest they contribute to the cost of
the advert, or reduce the size oftheir corporate branding onyour advert.
Make the advert easy to read. Use simple language, avoid complicated words unless absolutely necessary
(for example if recruiting for Head of Rocket Science), and keep enough space around the text to attract
attention to it. Less is more. Giving text some space is a very powerful way of attracting the eye, and also
a way of ensuring you write efficiently. Efficient writing enables efficient reading.
Use simple type-styles: Arial, Tahoma, Times, etc, or your house-style equivalents or variations. Serif fonts (like Times) are more traditional and more readable. Sans serif (like Arial and Tahoma) are more modern- looking, but are less easy to read especially for a lot of text. It's your choice.
Use 12-20ish point-size for headings and subheadings. Try to avoid upper-case (capitals) even in
headings - it's very much slower to read. Increase prominence by use of a larger point-size, and to an
extent emboldening, not by using capitals. CAPITALS HAVE NO WORDSHAPES - SEE WHAT I MEAN?)
For the same reason avoid italics, shadows, light colours reversed out of dark, weird and wonderful
colours. None of these improve readability, they all reduce it. Use simple black (or dark coloured) text on a
white (or light coloured) background for maximum readability.
Get the reader involved. Refer to the reader as \u2018you\u2019 and use the second person (\u2018you\u2019, \u2018your\u2019 and \u2018yours\u2019 etc) in the description of the requirements and expectations of the candidate and the job role. This helps people to visualise themselves in the role. It involves them.
Stress what is unique. You must try to emphasise what makes your job and organization special. People want to work for special employers and are generally not motivated to seek work with boring, run-of-the- mill, ordinary, unadventurous organizations.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?