How To Put The Perfect Job Ad In Front Of The Ideal Candidate

Job ad
Ryan Irving

I saw a great post by Hung Lee the other day about the end of Hire by Google where he mentions that recruiters get too hung up on their Applicant Tracking System (ATS) which, when compared to the power of job ads, is small-fry.

I couldn’t agree more.

Your ATS is just one of many tools at your disposal to help you get the job done as efficiently as possible.

When the time is taken to carefully plan and create a great job ad, however, it has the power to seduce the most settled employee into considering your role.

The problem is that the majority of job ads are the same bland crap that has been filling our social media feeds for years.

Little-to-no thought has been put into it.

The problems with your job ads

Your job ads are plastered with your branding

I know you love your ‘Brussel Sprout’ green and ‘Chicken Tikka Masala’ red but is this role all about you? Nope.

In addition, when you use the same template for every job ad you post, do you know what happens?

You already know what I’m going to say but I’ll say it anyway…

When you use a template for your jobs ads, people get used to seeing it and subsequently ignore them.

Your job ads simply blend in to the news feed noise.

Your job ads are dull AF

You know the routine:

  1. Enter job title here
  2. Enter salary here
  3. Enter location here
  4. Enter consultants name and number here

You spray your job ad everywhere and hope someone calls

You’ve finished adding the details to your template on canva and it’s time to show the world!

  1. Publish it on your recruitment website
  2. Share it on all social media platforms including Bebo ✅
  3. Post it on all job boards including popping a printed version into the job centre ✅
  4. Email it to everyone you know ✅
  5. Stick it on the community notice board in all towns within a 500-mile radius ✅
  6. Get it made into a sandwich board and wear it every day ✅

Right Ryan, so now you’re saying I shouldn’t try and get as many people to see my job ads?

Yep. I am. Because 99.9% of the people that see it won’t give a shit.

What a massive waste of time, energy, and money.

The Perfect Job Ad

The key to getting your ad right is knowing the exact type of person you want to apply.

Some of you will be sitting there proudly thinking that you already do this but I’m talking about real granular details.

You want to know so much about the ideal candidate that you can guess what they eat for breakfast and when they last got laid.

How do you do this?

Design the ideal candidate

Start with the job itself, what tasks do you expect this individual to carry out? List them all.

Once you have your definitive task list, ask yourself what type of person would naturally enjoy undertaking such tasks?

Let’s say the vacancy is for a web developer and their tasks will include things like writing code, testing and troubleshooting.

For someone to enjoy this type of work, they’re likely to appreciate accuracy, love problem-solving and be happy working on their own.

This is good but still fairly generic.

Step forward DISC

By taking the time to understand what the ideal behavioural profile of someone will be, you can start to write your job ad in a way that it will ‘speak’ to the types of people you’re targeting.

If we continue with the web developer example, we’re definitely going to want a high ‘C’ DISC profile.

A person with a ‘C’ style

  • is motivated by opportunities to gain knowledge, show their expertise, and produce quality work
  • prioritizes ensuring accuracy, maintaining stability, and challenging assumptions
  • is described as careful, cautious, systematic, diplomatic, accurate and tactful
  • may be limited by being overcritical, overanalyzing and isolating themselves
  • may fear criticism and being wrong
  • values quality and accuracy

Each person’s profile will have various elements of each style and the amount of each you desire in your ideal candidate should be considered but to keep the length of this post short, we’ll just focus on a dominant C-style profile.

To target people with a C-style profile, we can use words in your job ad which will directly appeal to them and avoid those which will turn them off.

From the word sketch above, we can ascertain that our ideal candidate will respond well to the following types of words:

accurate, conservative, exacting, fact-finder, precise, systematic, conscientious, courteous, focused, and high standards

Cool, huh?

So far, we’ve based everything around the job role but what about the culture?

Their Ideal Culture

You may think that loads of team socials, free gym membership, and an open-plan office are wonderful but again, it’s not about you.

So, before you start boasting about such perks, consider if your ideal candidate will see them the same way.

Do you think our conservative, conscientious and focused web developer will be particularly excited about your Friday all-night sessions at the George & Dragon?

It’s unlikely.

They will, however, really appreciate work-from-home days and some of the latest hardware for them to work with.

By now you should be able to put together a pretty good job ad written specifically for our ideal candidate.

But we still need to hook them in and a simple job title won’t cut it.

Job ad headlines: Speak to their problems

What does your ideal candidate hate about their current situation that is so much better in the role on offer?

Where are they right now? What role are they in? Where are they based?

Our ideal web developer could currently be freelancing and freelancers love doing the work that they do but typically, hate everything else.

This includes:

  • Sales
  • Bookkeeping
  • Customer service

You can tempt a freelancer into your role with your work-from-home days but do you know what else you can offer them that they’ll love even more?

  • Never having to sell themselves
  • Never having to chase payment
  • Never having to deal with unhappy customers

So instead of the dreary ‘Web Developer Role Available’, you could try something like:

‘Web Devs, are you fed up with waiting for clients to pay?’

BANG! Every single freelance web developer that sees this will be intrigued!

This ad specifically targets freelancers so you could run multiple ads for other scenarios aimed at any number of problems like commuting, lack of project ownership, no career progression, etc.

OK, so you’ve written the best job ad known to man, now what do you do with it?

Use social advertising to target your ideal candidate

You know everything there is to know about your ideal candidate’s personality so what would that type of person be passionate about? Who influences them? What do they do for fun?

Just a little bit of research will tell us all we need to know.

Sticking with the freelance web developer, we can run some basic Google searches.

‘top web developers on twitter’ gets this result: 15 Twitter accounts every web designer should follow

‘biggest web development events’ gets this result: 8 Conferences and Networking Events for UK Web Designers

The latter was a post on the UK Web Design Association website so we now know the industry association where our ideal candidate is likely to have a membership.

10-15 minutes of these style searches will tell us all of the key publications, people, events and companies in the world of web development.

Add to this list, the location of the role and age range of our ideal candidate and we’ve now got some pretty specific criteria.

With over 30 million people actively using Facebook in the UK, it’s safe to say that if our ideal candidate is anywhere, they’ll be on facebook.

Facebook also does us the favour of collecting a huge amount of information about each person that uses their platform and then makes a lot of that info available to us for advertising.

So that’s where we’ll place our ad.

Plug in all the criteria on our list and we’ve got ourselves an audience of all of our ideal candidates.

What’s even better is for a few pounds per day, we can ensure that most of our audience sees our ad.

…the ad that was written specifically for them.

Don’t be lazy, get better results

Yes, doing this for every role will take a little more of your time but the quality of your applicants will be worth it.

Also, assuming you don’t hire for a random selection of jobs, it’s likely you will be able to re-purpose a lot of this work the next time you hire for a similar role.

What’s your job ad strategy? Do you already implement any of these tactics?