Writing a job ad or posting is just like writing any advertisement. If you take the analogy that the job is your product and the job seekers are your customers, you need to make a compelling case for why they should take time to apply for the vacancy. A more compelling case than your competitors posting ads on the same job boards.
An effective job ad is not just a description of the job and it is more complex than just sending out a message that your company is hiring. A good job ad will weed out unqualified applicants and make sure that the best candidates come to you for your job.
You need to express some creativity, and ideally tell a story about the culture of the company as well as the requirements of the position. Dull ads will not attract or keep the attention of strong, vibrant candidates.
Lou Adler, a reputable Influencer on LinkedIn and founder of The Adler Group, believes that by writing job ads to attract people in rather than weed them out, you will have more luck finding top people. He gives a compelling example below of two short descriptions for the same job. Which one do you think a top accountant who is thinking of leaving their current job would consider more interesting?
Business Unit Controller. Must have a CPA from a Big 4 accounting firm. Must have 10+ years direct industry experience. Must be results-driven, possess solid internal reporting skills, have strong interpersonal skills and exceptional verbal and written communications skills.
Oscar Winning Controller. For a CPA, this is the stuff of dreams: getting out of the numbers and making a difference. Our accounting systems are in shambles. We need them rebuilt. Our creative types are running amuck, spending money wildly. Can you tame them? If you can create some order out of chaos, we need to talk. If you pull this off, the CEO will be thanking you when he gets his Oscar.
In addition to nailing the short description, you need to sharpen the focus of the ad in order to draw out the most qualified candidates. Paul Slezak, Co-Founder at RecruitLoop lists 8 simple steps to further refine your job ad:
- Be Specific About the Role
This will allow candidates to compare what is required with their own skills and experience and discourage those not qualified from applying. The job title (headline) has to be very clear and should in no way deceive or mislead the reader.
You should also try to incorporate three bullet points containing the “punchiest” (eye catching) benefits or incentives associated with the job. Salary (if it’s within or above market rate) is always a good one. Similarly, whether there is on site parking available, the ability to work from home, or proximity to public transport will also grab the reader’s attention. You might even include something along the lines of “modern office; stunning harbour views; team lunch provided every Friday”.
Provide a salary range. If it’s not in their ball park, they won’t waste their time and yours by applying.
- Distinguish ‘Must Haves’ From ‘Nice-to-Haves’
You also need to clearly articulate whether there are any essential qualifications, desirable skills, or any other “nice to haves” in terms of previous experience required in the role.
- Don’t Exaggerate
When a job sounds too good to be true, it generally is and will only attract applicants who are gullible, unrealistic and non-performers. If you are looking to fill an Office Assistant or Accounts Clerk role, you probably shouldn’t have the heading “Job of a Lifetime”. Sometimes it’s best just to keep it simple. “Office Manager – 3 days/week. Ideal for a returning to work parent”.
- Offer Challenges, Not Rewards
This is more likely to attract someone with drive and ambition, rather than someone just looking for an easy ride.
- Tell Them About Your Company
Next you need to describe the company – but not in too much detail.
You don’t want the reader to get excited about the company and then not have any connection to the actual role. Remember it’s a job ad. Above all you want someone who wants to do the job in question. The fact that it’s for your company is an added bonus.
The information you include in the actual description of the job and the profile of the ideal candidate should come very easily to you – assuming you have written a proper job description and prepared a performance profile for the role. Select the key skills, core competencies and most relevant performance or success measures and include them. This is where you will eliminate those applicants who are not actually suitable for the role.
- Provide a Phone Number for Enquiries
This can help you eliminate unsuitable candidates early in the process. Trust me … you can learn a lot from a prospective candidate over the phone.
- Ask for a Cover Letter
This can provide useful clues as to character, education level, and communication style and allow you to filter out unsuitable candidates prior to interview.
When I was a hands-on recruiter, I would always ask for a cover letter as part of the application process. If a candidate submitted just their resumé without a cover letter, I immediately rejected them. Call me harsh – but it revealed a lot about their ability to follow a very simple instruction.
- Talk to the Reader
When you are writing your advertisement, avoid phrases like “the successful candidate” or “the ideal applicant” since this will make even the most suitable candidate question whether they’re right for the role. Rather say something along the lines of, “In this exciting role you will be working with …” or “Coming from a strong sales background, you will be expected to …”.
Talk to the reader. Use the word “you”.
Now let’s write your accountants job ad!
Building on the 8 points above and suggested wording from Lou Adler, go to this page for a truly brilliant illustration of the good, the bad and the ugly in Accountant job advertisements and use their precise recommendations to attract the best accounting candidates.
Happy hunting. They’re out there & now you know how to find them!