Danny Birks

If you were looking for a new job where would be your first port of call? A job board? A search engine? Answer yes, to either or both of these options and you’d be in the majority. In fact, research has shown that a massive 73% of candidates start their search in Google, while Indeed.com tell us that they help to find “millions” of candidates their next dream opportunity every day. Bold statements indeed, but ones that cannot be underestimated when you consider putting pen to paper and begin to scribe great job adverts.

With this in mind, how can you approach writing job adverts to ensure that your ad is given the best chance of not only being found, but also be appealing enough for the best candidates to take action?

Maybe you are new to recruitment. Maybe you are wondering why your adverts are not getting the response rate you expected, or perhaps you are a seasoned recruiter who needs to refresh your approach…any which way, look no further.

Read on to discover how to effectively format your Job Board Advert, and how you can optimise your ad into one that Google and the other search engines will love.

Format & structure

Whilst there is no set format to follow per se, it is vital that you structure a job advert that is clear, concise, easy to follow and transmits all the relevant information to the candidate.

You will certainly need to include:

An introduction

Provide an introduction to the job…not the company. We will speak about the importance of an effective Job Title in much more detail later on, but this short statement should briefly outline both the title and a perfunctory overview of what the position entails. Your advert has 20 seconds or approximately 2 sentences before your applicant moves on, so make them count!

An outline of the roles and responsibilities

Read through the job description given to you by your client and pick out up to 7 of the main tasks which the successful applicant will be expected to undertake. If possible, it is good practice to relate these to a particular business objective. By doing so, you will give your candidate a vision of where they fit into the bigger picture and will enable them to picture where this position sits in the company plan.

A candidate specification

Create a list of the skills, attributes and qualifications that your applicants would need to hold or demonstrate. Which of these are necessities and which are desirables? Candidates take more notice of these details than any other, and so how you choose your words here will have a huge effect on your response rate. Chat with your client and develop your strategy. Do they wish you to pool an array of candidates or do they wish you to value quality over quantity? If the former is the priority, then you can afford to be more general at this point, but if your desire is to harness candidate CVs of real calibre and role relevance, then you should take a more specific approach to your language.

Money moments!

Job Board Adverts which detail salary gain approximately 40% more applications than those which leave candidates guessing about what they could expect to earn, so here is your opportunity to manage the expectations of your candidates. Salary, bonus packages and benefit schemes should be included here. Any additional perks such as childcare schemes, a company car and flexible working could be what seals the deal for the big hitters! While salary is important, it can be the added ‘extras’ which really attract the crème de la crème, so include it all!

Location, location, location

Of course, let your candidate know where the job is based, but you can afford to be more specific than that! Provide the detail. Is it a new office? What are the transport links like? Where is it commutable from and what might the timescales be? Is it office based or is it possible that the successful applicant would be expected to travel? All these are possible make or breaks for some candidates, so any information you can provide here will avoid disappointment for everyone further down the line.

A brief company outline

What industry space does the company occupy, and what do they do? Provide appealing details that will attract and entice. Are they “industry leaders”, or a “transformative start-up”? Pick your language carefully and try to relate the company journey to your role.

Next steps

What do you require of your candidate going forward? Many Job Boards have an “Apply Now” option, but it will never hurt to provide an email address and telephone number on which the candidate can get hold of you personally. By doing so, you will invite contact and initiate a personal touchpoint for the candidate. It seems obvious, but asking for a current, updated CV is wise and if your client has asked for a short paragraph about why a candidate would be suitable for the role, it is a good idea to ask for it at this stage.

So now you have structured a job board advert worthy of a Pulitzer Prize, how do you make sure that its brilliance is not lost? How do you optimise your advert and ensure you don’t miss out on the 73% of candidates who start with a blank Google search bar?

Search engine optimisation…best practice!

Google, Yahoo and friends are the starting point for the vast majority of job seekers, and so being visible to search engines is crucial in maximising your job advert response rate.

Failure to consider their importance when penning your ad will certainly result in a lower application rate than you desire.

Keywords are king!

The phrase “Keywords” is THE buzz phrase of the moment, but what are they exactly?

You are recruiters, not digital marketing specialists and so you can be forgiven for being somewhat in the dark! Wordstream.com describes them thus:

“Your SEO keywords are the keywords and phrases in your web content that make it possible for people to find your site via search engines. A website that is well optimized for search engines “speaks the same language” as its potential visitor base with keywords for SEO that help connect searchers to your site”.

So, you can see how important they are in making sure Google et al “find” your advert; if Google can find it…that’s 73% of potential candidates that can find it too!

To establish what the keywords would be for your particular job role, you will need to put on your deerstalker and become a sleuth.

Follow the checklist below to make sure you aren’t missing a trick.

Research your role

Read Job Board Adverts for similar positions to your own, and pick out the recurring words or phrases. Are there commonalities in language, skill sets or word combinations? Gather these and add them to an online tool such as Google Trends. Programs such as these are goldmines and will help you add real value to your search. They can provide you with invaluable nuggets of information such as the number of monthly searches a keyword receives in relation to other search terms. In short, you get a lot more bang for your buck!

A little goes a long way

Once you have established what your keywords are, you can begin to use them throughout your advert. Strategic use is important though, so placements you should certainly consider are:

1) The page title

You will often have limited characters here.  Most Job Boards only offer between 50-60, so fit your keywords into the first few for maximum value.

2) The meta description

In all likelihood, the meta description will be the first paragraph of your job board advert, and as such will appear in Search Engines as a ‘description’ of the page. Placing your keywords in an attractive tagline, using less than 160 characters will ensure your advert ranks highly in the Search Engines.

It is also important to know that 80% of people will read your meta description, but only 20% will click through. Statistics such as these only serve to underline the importance of an attractive and enticing candidate proposition in your opening paragraph. Your first 160 characters are game changers, and those most likely to appear on the Job Board Listings and the Search Engine results pages. Aim for a short overview of the role, and create a compelling reason for a click through. Try to communicate a good balance between describing the company and detailing the job on offer. You only have one chance to make a first impression, so don’t waste it!

3) The URL

The URL is the description of the site (and so your advert) to visitors, but more importantly to the Search Engines. Include your keywords in your URL. Adding a job title and location, for example, will attract more results for your advert.

4) The main body of text

It would be tempting to use your keywords en masse throughout the body of your advert, but this would not necessarily garner you the results you desire. Once your advert has been found, it is important to remember that you are not writing for the engines, but for people. An overuse of keywords will only serve to confuse your copy and will affect the message you need to transmit. More important here, is to keep your advert clear, concise, descriptive and accurate. In fact, an overuse of keywords is punishable by the search engines and will diminish their impact in the long run. Clarity comes with only using language most relevant to the role and the target audience.

But overall…sell, sell, sell!

Before putting pen to paper, it is important to remember the fact that your advert is exactly that. It is not a Job Description or a specification, but a call to action! Think of your job as a product and the job seekers as your customers. Your language needs to appeal to your target market, encouraging them to read on; think copy which is inviting and compelling.

A huge part of your sales strategy needs to come from your headline, and in this instance, your headline is your Job Title. This will probably be the shortest sentence you write, but it could be argued to be the most valuable and will affect your applications more than any other. So, when considering how you play your ace card, we suggest you think about the following:

A job title should motivate, entice and encourage. It should never lower the status of the employee or make them feel under-valued. If appropriate, think about using high performing nouns such as “executive” or “advisor” to invoke status and seniority. Professionals are very protective of their skills and if they feel as though there is a lack of respect for them, they will not apply. That being said, only do so if it is genuine. Avoid overselling a position. The job title needs to be alluring, but accurate!

Think about who your ideal candidate would be. What would they want from a job? Write for them, and you’ll pique their interest. If you have a clear idea of what they are looking for, you’ll be able to write a headline that will result in a higher conversion rate http://blog.firefishsoftware.com/how-to-write-clickable-headlines-for-job-advert-titles

Don’t go with super-duper job titles. Of course, you want to stand out, both to candidates and to the search engines, but resist the temptation to look for a “.NET Wizard” or a “Java Genius”! The chances of a candidate actually using those terms to search for a position is slim to none, and you’ll severely limit your results if you do! Ask yourself: “will this be found?”. If the answer is No….go back to the drawing board!

A final thought

When formatting your job board advert, it is also important to remember HOW modern job seekers hunt out opportunities. Smartphones, tablets and apps mean that your advert needs to read well on the daily commute and function on a small screen. Think bullet points, and if you can, try to keep you job board advert to less than 700 words.

In Summary, a successful and effective Job Board Advert is not something that can be thrown together. It requires time, effort and an awareness of who your ideal candidate is and all that they desire from a role. It is not a description of a job but is designed to sell an opportunity.

Having a clear format will help you to write in a concise manner which in turn will allow you transmit all the vital information the candidate requires. Effective use of your keywords will ensure that your advert is picked up by the search engines and job board searches, and will undoubtedly result in a higher application rate. It may take a bit of practice at first, and seem like a lot of effort to go to, especially when you just want to crack on and gather CVs for the role. Put in the legwork early on, however, and the ideal candidate may just find YOU!

If you are currently having problems attracting the right candidates to your job adverts or need any help or advice about how best to handle your hectic recruitment workload whilst simultaneously managing your team, then please send me an email to Danny@ignite.digital and I will be glad to help you out. 

Danny Birks, Co-Founder and Director of Digital at Ignite Digital Talent

About the author: I ensure that everyone at Ignite Digital Talent brings our brand values to life. I focus on building great relationships with both clients and candidates whilst also unearthing the best digital marketing professionals and opportunities on the market.

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