Selling The Job

Writing An Effective Help Wanted Ad

Would you plunk down 10 bucks at the movies to see something known only as a Generic Action Flick? Of course not! You want to know something about the story, who stars in it and whether it’s supposed to funny or scary. So if people won’t invest two hours and $10 in to an unknown movie, why would they bet their career on a generic job posting?

Eliminate the mystery… Sell what the job and company have to offer. Let potential employees know about the opportunity, creativity, flexibility, great pay, a cool office, terrific benefits, working for the world’s greatest boss, etc. that await them. Don’t scribble a list on a napkin just before the deadline, either. Write an ad that gets people excited! Easier said than done, but there are some basic tips and techniques to keep in mind.

The first rule to remember is to be specific. Write carefully so that your meaning comes across clearly and readers will have no difficulty understanding exactly what you’re saying.

It doesn’t matter if you’re posting an ad on your own website, a job board, internally or social media, the days of paying by the word in newspaper classifieds are long gone. So be sure to spell out all of the information that is important in your help wanted ad.

Start by writing an accurate headline that will draw interest from the right candidates. Support the headline with a good job description. Clearly state the job’s responsibilities, as well as the qualifications you’ll be looking for in a successful candidate. Be sure to include the personal characteristics that make for successful employees at your business.

Job Description and Requirements
Do job seekers have the potential to learn “on the job?” Can certain qualifications be “preferred” rather than required? Would you overlook candidates without these qualifications or could you provide training to the right person? You’ll often find the most valuable quality in a candidate will be a willingness and ability to learn. If you decide that a particular skill isn’t required, but is “nice to have,” make sure you indicate that in your posting.

Another note about job descriptions:
If HR or someone else writes the ad, they can miss the actual day-to-day processes that are really critical components of the job. I would recommend having someone who is currently doing that job help you write the job description portion (as long as that person isn’t the one being replaced!). The result is more valuable job-specific information, rather than generic bullet points.

Benefits and Incentives
What is in it for the applicant? Outline your health insurance plan, after all, most job seekers are looking for a long-term position. Do you offer perks like tuition reimbursement, day care allowance, casual Fridays, flextime, parking, health club memberships, etc? These days, benefits are just as important to job seekers and their families as the salary they’ll receive… maybe even more important.

Advertising Your Company
Market your company as well as your job openings. Why does an applicant want to work for your company? What sets your operation apart from the rest? How long have you been in business? How many OEM awards have you won? As an employer, you’re entitled to bragging rights! The more a job seeker knows about how great your company is, the more they’ll want to be employed and stay employed with you.

The Closing
Do you want candidates to respond through the snail mail only? Or can they fax a resume? Can they send a resume by e-mail? Will you answer telephone inquiries? There is no “right” answer, though generally the more options you offer, the greater the response you’ll get. Whatever you decide, include that information in the ad.

It’s good form to acknowledge every application, even if you use a form letter. Less than that is disrespectful. And some candidates are receiving unemployment and need to prove
that they are making a legitimate effort to find work.

Bottom Line
Throw out the-same-as-everyone-else job ads! Employ creative copy writing techniques in your next help wanted advertisement that sells the job. Don’t bore the candidates, don’t omit the details and most importantly, don’t sell your business short. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for the right applicant, so don’t screw this up!
Keep these points in mind as you write your next job advertisement, and instead of being flooded with resumes from ho-hum “generic” candidates, find yourself flooded with resumes from to-die-for action hero applicants! Now that is worth two thumbs up!


Leave a Reply