The who, what and what of good job ads

Job ads are interesting. For one, they're really common. Even a medium-sized organisation will be producing a fair amount of job ads, and a large or fast-growing organisation will be a veritable job ad factory. 

For two, they're really important. A good job ad will get you a decent number of good candidates. A bad job ad will get you fewer good candidates. 

For three, it's not that hard to write a good job ad. You don't need to sweat over the copy to make sure it inspires people, or anything like that. Your audience is pretty primed for what you're selling - they're looking for a job, and you're offering a job. All you need to do is communicate a few key pieces of relevant information, quickly. 

In spite of all that, I constantly see job ads that. . . could be better. Here's an example that floated across my Linkedin feed:

Air BNB.png

Sorry, AirBnB, but this is Not Great. 

I’ve highlighted where the ad actually tells candidates what they’ll be doing and how the job works. It’s in paragraph number 3! To get there, you have to wade through two paragraphs that tell you:

  1. When the company was founded
  2. Where it was founded
  3. How many cities and countries they operate in
  4. The kinds of things you can rent from AirBnB
  5. Some other stuff (I couldn't make it through the whole thing).

Think back to the last time you applied for a job. At the time, did you ask yourself any of the questions answered in those five bullet points above? I'm dead certain I didn't.

This isn't to say that this information is irrelevant. But if you're looking at multiple ads (which is what most job seekers do), you're going to want to quickly sort through them by learning: 

  1. Who's hiring, and what they do

  2. What this organisation expects me to do

  3. What kind of skills and experience they require.

Then, if those three things match what you want out of a job, you'd want more detail about the company. AirBnB has put their information back-to-front. 

I shouldn't be too harsh on poor AirBnB, because this is a common problem. When you’re deep in an organisation, it becomes difficult to describe it succinctly. You live and breathe it every day, so you forget that not everyone else does. It becomes difficult to separate the forest from the trees. 

Let's keep it positive

Here’s an example of a better job ad:


This job ad doesn’t explain what BP does, because  it doesn’t need to. It says BP up the top, and BP is a very recognisable organisation. 

With that out of the way, it gets straight into the most relevant information for the reader: a little pitch about why you should apply for this job, then the specifics about what the job actually is.

By the time I finish the first paragraph, I know who the company is, what the job is and a broad overview of what they would expect from me. Easy. Then I can get into the bullet points for more detail. 

Wrap it up

If you're writing job ads on a regular basis, try to think of those three points from above: who you are, what the job is, what the successful candidate will need to be doing. Think about what someone might want to know, and prioritise that information. It'll go a long way towards getting you more, better candidates when you're hiring.