To write a good job ad you need good information

Sometimes I hear recruiters complain that they can’t always find the “creative inspiration” to write a good job ad.

The problem with creative inspiration is it’s unreliable and rarely turns up when you need it. Plus, if you’re working on multiple jobs at once (which most recruiters are) whatever creative juice you do have is going to run out pretty quickly.

But there is a place where you can go to get creative inspiration whenever you need it – and that place is the Hiring Manager.

More specifically, the job briefing meeting/conversation with the Hiring Manager, which you should be having before trying to take a job vacancy to market. For it is here where you’ll find the things you need to write about in your job ad, email, Inmail or social media post.

The job brief (or the discovery stage as some recruiters like to call it) is where you collect all the information you need to be able to deliver suitable candidates. Information like what the job entails, the candidate requirements, who/what the hiring company are, the culture and the compensation package.

But there’s one area of questioning that is often overlooked and is critical if you’re going to be able to sell a job effectively, to the right candidates.

Whenever I’m taking a brief from a hiring manager, I always ask the following two questions;

“Is the type of person we’re looking for likely to be employed or unemployed?”

This is a trick question. What I’m doing is setting the Hiring Manager up for the 2nd question.

Nearly all of them will reply “employed”.

That’s because they’ve either got their finger on the pulse and understand that these types of candidates are in demand and very unlikely to be sitting at home watching daytime television – or they’re biased and think unemployed people probably aren’t going to be very good at their job. It doesn’t really matter if you don’t agree with this rather jaundiced view.

Here’s that 2nd question;

“Why would someone doing a similar job to this one, want to leave that job and come and work for you?

This is where the gold is.

The Hiring Manager should be able to give you valid reasons why this job might be better than the job some suitable candidates are currently doing. It might be better learning opportunities, a bigger challenge, more available resources, formal training programmes, a great line manager, better package, etc. It could literally be a hundred different things.

When you find out what they are, those are the things you write about.

Just saying your client has “an awesome culture” or is “an exciting place to work” is going to be sneered at by all but the most impressionable candidates, so you’re going to have to offer some evidence if it’s going to have any credibility and be believed. Because that is often the critical difference between the right people looking at your ad and the right people both reading it and responding to it.

Be careful though, because some Hiring Managers will be thrown by this 2nd question – if only because most won’t have been asked it before or even considered the possibility that they’re going to have to speak to the needs of the candidate if they’re going to find who they’re looking for.

In fact, some of these Hiring Managers will look at you like an 18th century farmer who’s having Blockchain explained to them.

Don’t let this deter you. And don’t let them them fob you off with non-answers either.

If one of the reasons they give you is “We’re a market leader..” then follow-up by asking them why them being a market leader (assuming it’s true, which half the time it isn’t) would make the job more rewarding, enjoyable or make the target candidates be more interested in finding out more.

If you’re still struggling to get the answers you need, ask if you can talk to some of their staff who are actually doing the same (or a similar) job. They’ll probably know.

You can’t write good job marketing with bad information. Otherwise, you’re just going to be making stuff up.

At best, you’re just going to be putting out job postings that only talk about what the hiring company wants, which is fine if the Hiring Manager answered your first question with “unemployed”.

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