Who cares about job ads anyway?

Writing great job ads
Credit: Unsplash

At companies? In many cases - no one, it seems. However, candidates care. A lot. Job ads, or job postings, are often the very first impression a potential candidate (or potential future employee) will get of a company and as marketers, we should always care about our brand’s first impression, regardless of if it’s a job seeker’s first impression, a consumer’s- or a potential corporate client’s.

Also, I care. I’ve spent the better part of a decade helping companies improve their job adverts, build employer brand and get better output from their online recruitment efforts.

After over 10 years in the recruitment industry, both as a marketer and as a consultant specialized in talent attraction, I couldn’t even tell you how many times I have witnessed neglect when it comes to job ads. Many companies just don’t put in the time nor the effort to write really good job postings.

Often times the neglect stems from three things: Priorities, lack of ownership and lack of communication.

Other times, it’s a lack of know-how that’s stopping recruiters from writing really great job adverts.

Regardless of the reason; it is safe to say that companies that invest time and effort into producing well-written, targeted and optimized ads have a clear competitive advantage in today’s recruitment landscape. In this article, I’ve tried to put my finger on some of the causes for this, what the solutions could be, and what the benefits are.

You might also like: HR + Marketing + Collaboration = Recruitment Marketing Squared


I don’t know how many times I’ve heard HR managers say that the HR team is too busy to prioritize their job ads. Ironically enough, they are often too busy because they are dealing with frantic hiring managers who are scrambling to source candidates for hard-to-fill open positions.

Don’t get me wrong, I am aware that both HR teams and hiring managers are very busy and strapped for time. However, imagine if instead they would band together with their marketing department and make a focused effort to put together a library of well-written, targeted and search engine optimized job advert templates.

They would be able to solve their immediate candidate need faster and they would save time in the long run by reusing these great ads again and again for the next foreseeable future. They could also rest assured that they’ll attract the best and most relevant applications to their open vacancies.

The marketing team would also benefit greatly from this effort as the company’s brand would get increased visibility and the brand would be showcased better.

At the same token though; often times the marketing team is also not prioritizing job adverts and don’t really see them as part of their job. I’ll dive into that shortly.

3 ways to make job ads a priority:

  • Sign up for a workshop or webinar to understand candidate trends, employer branding trends, job seeker behavior and how a great advert can help the business solve its urgent candidate needs. Be inspired, get new knowledge and reconfirm the things you are already doing well.
  • Rewrite a job ad to make it ‘the perfect ad’, both from a search-, candidate attraction-, and employer branding perspective. A/B test it on a job board and evaluate which advert, your new version or your old one, performs the best in terms of key performance indicators like views, applications (or other conversions), and candidate quality.
  • It’s easier to prioritize something if it’s fun. Make the writing process fun! Job ads don’t need to be the traditional drab list of tasks and requirements - shake it up and be creative.

Lack of ownership

What also often happens is that job ads become what the Brits would spitefully call ‘a redheaded step-child’, something with low priority and that no one wants to claim ownership of.

The marketing team often firmly believes that it is HR’s job to produce job postings whilst the HR team claims that they don’t know how to write great job ads that ‘sells’ the role, the company culture, values etcetera (i.e. the marketing team’s expertise.) The hiring managers, in turn, claim that they don’t have time to focus on writing job ads from scratch and push the buck back to HR.

3 steps to improve ownership and department collaboration: 

  1. Set up a recruitment/talent attraction task force within the company. Get the most creative, open-minded members from each team onboard and create a spirit of collaboration.
  2. Gather inspiration from local/industry competitors as well as from other industries and let the task force work out what can and should be used to improve your current job advert templates.
  3. Make a plan. Set achievable, measurable next steps and goals within the group and schedule brief touch points to follow up as often as time permits. Oh, and don’t forget to celebrate wins when you hit (or crush) your goals!

Lack of communication

Last but, by no means, least, in many organizations, there is a lack of communication between HR, Marketing and the hiring managers.

I distinctly remember this one time when I hosted a workshop on the topic of job advert optimization on-site at one of the world’s top telecom companies. A company that hires thousands of qualified people every year.

I was sitting across from a member of the HR team and in her hand; she had a yellow post-it note with a couple of bullet points scribbled on it.

She proceeded to tell me: “Peter, do you want to know what my reality is like? Look at this post-it. This is all the information I have and they are asking me to go out and find not one but several senior hardware engineers. The hiring manager wants this person hired yesterday.”

In the same session, I found out that HR and Marketing did not collaborate and very rarely even talked to each other. In fact, the only communication HR had had with Marketing that year was when HR had received a new company overview text to use in their job ads.

She proceeded to show me the text. It was a generic, typically corporate two-paragraph text that did not focus on recruitment - or even humans.

Because of this, this company’s job adverts were below average quality-wise, lacked keyword optimization and they missed out on great candidates and an opportunity to shine with their employer brand.

2 surefire ways to improve inter-team communications:

  • In order to spark interest in this ‘redheaded stepchild’ and get buy-in and quality output, improve the way you communicate the value of spending time on producing great job ads and dazzle each stakeholder with stats. The hiring manager and HR will most likely be interested in metrics like candidate quality, the number of scheduled interviews and Time to Hire whilst us Marketers will most likely be interested in view stats (i.e. how many times the brand has been shown) and engagement/conversion stats (i.e. how attractive the employer brand is.)
  • Get everyone involved early in the candidate attraction process. Ask the hiring manager early on for input on both the job ad that is about to be posted and ask the marketing team for input on how they can help give the job advert copy, automatic response letters etc. some ‘pzaz’.

To wrap this up: Why should marketers care about job ads?

Simple. They are a huge marketing and brand building opportunity. Every time someone clicks on a job ad, they are exposed to elements that marketers should care about: They’ll most likely see a company name, a logo, a company presentation, an employer branding text or a video clip.

Think about it. Job seekers, candidates, within your industry that clicks on your job ads are a captive, relevant audience that are interested in finding out more about your brand. So make sure to dazzle them at every opportunity you get.

Often times, a job ad is posted for about a month on a job board and, in a country with an average employment rate, it is not uncommon that an ad is read/viewed 200-300 times.  For the telecom company I mentioned before, that would mean about 200,000-300,000 views per year if we assume that they post 1,000 vacancies. That is a heck of a lot of views.

A company that makes a focused effort to make their job ads more searchable and more attractive can easily get a 50% increase in both in terms of views and in terms of applications.

That would mean an additional 100,000-150,000 views at no additional cost. These views can then be converted to not only job applications but also to video views, traffic to the company website and new social media followers.

Is it time to start caring?


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