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Advice for writing job adverts

The first step to making sure the right people are interested in your job, your company/college/training facility and your culture is writing a great job advert for your role. A great job ad will promote all those things and make it sound interesting and engaging. Here’s how to get the best candidates to click the button and apply.

A job advert needs to be:

  • Appealing to the specific person or people you are trying to recruit.
  • Telling a compelling story…

Providing insight into your company and culture.

Informative, exciting and inspiring.

Step 1 - Think

What are you advertising?

  • What role/apprenticeship programme are you recruiting for? Make sure the name of the apprenticeship is clear and reflects what the apprentice will be working on to the external market, not just what you call it at your company. (If you’re not sure, check by looking at a few job boards. What do other companies call it?)
    • Don’t say: “there’s always lots of change.” Do say: “keeps you on your toes, it will never get boring.”
    • Don’t say: “there’s a process for everything.” Do say: “you’ll know what to do at all times, and why.”

What are the most important aspects of the job/training, opportunity and company?

What makes it different from similar roles at other companies? What makes it unique or exciting? Why should they want to come and do it at your company?

A job advert needs to be honest and accurate, but that doesn’t mean off-putting. A negative about the job or the company can always be turned around to a positive.

Who are you talking to?

  • Your candidates should feel you are talking to them – just them.
  • What are the skills or competencies, or attitudes or behaviours you are looking for?

Think about the type of people you are trying to attract to your role. Who are you hoping is going to apply? Then put yourself in their shoes. Recruitment is a two-way process – it’s not just about what they can bring to your company but what you can offer them. What is it about this apprenticeship that makes it attractive? What’s in it for them? Why would they want to apply? As well as career development, is it about a fun, lively, buzzing culture? Will they receive a personal learning and development offering, or get to work with experts in their field?

Try to appeal to both their heart (their gut feel) and their head (logical reasons).

Talk to them how your company speaks. This is called Tone of Voice (or ToV) and needs to be reflective of your company, your values and what you stand for. For example, if your company is very casual and relaxed, you need this to come across in your advert: “pop by and say hello!” For examples of how different companies talk take a look at Innocent or Costa Coffee compared to MI5 or Thales.

Step 2 – Write!

Put some time aside, you’ll need to concentrate! This is more than replicating the job description, although this can help as you’ll need to include what you’re looking for.

Introduction:

Then, using the information from your thinking time above…

Opening paragraph:

  • What’s the big sell?
  • Think about including an enticing question, for example: “Would you like to work for an innovative, forward-thinking company, which will challenge you and grow your career?”

Talk about what the job is, and why it’s great. What’s your company all about? Why will they like working there?

No more than 3-4 lines.

What’s the job about?

  • Get to the point – fast! What’s in it for them? What’s the apprenticeship? What makes the apprenticeship different?
  • What are the main accountabilities of the role? What will they be doing day-to-day? You can use bullet points, but keep it engaging and no more than 5-7.

Who is the perfect person for the role?

  • Mention any essential experience early on – we don’t want to waste their time if they’re not suited for the role. But make sure the experience is truly essential – see our Engage section for more on this.
  • Talk about what behaviours or traits they will need to excel in this role. What will make them successful?

Include a bit about your company:

  • End with a simple paragraph telling them about your company, in a positive and engaging way:
    • What do you do?
    • What services to you offer?
    • What’s great about your company?
    • Why is it unique?

Call to action:

  • How do they apply? Make it simple!
  • And what’s the closing date? Mention any assessment centres or interview dates you already have scheduled in the diary.

And some final pointers:

  • Leave out the jargon and acronyms. Keep your language simple and understandable.
  • Write as if you’re speaking to someone, for example: “in this role, you’ll….” or “you’ll be confident at….” rather than “the ideal candidate will…”

A quick note about SEO or Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation is the art of including key words in your advert so that the entry appears higher up in the unpaid (or organic) rankings when you search online on sites such as Google or Bing.

Think what key words or search terms people will enter when looking for the job online – and put these as many times as possible in the opening paragraphs. But keep it natural, don’t force them in!

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