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The phone rings. You check the calendar. It’s been 33 days, 7 hours and 12 minutes since you’ve posted the job advertisement for the hiring manager on the other end of that phone call.

The problem is, you don’t have any qualified candidates to share with her. Worse, you don't know why people aren’t applying either.

Recruiters — I know you’ve been there, and I want to help. As a senior internal recruiter here at Reward Gateway, I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t when it comes to creating job advertisements that attract the right candidates. Let’s get real about the reasons why people are ignoring your job postings — and how to go from *yawn* to YES! with your next one:

You’ve mistaken your job advertisement for a job description.

In the fast-paced world of recruiting, it’s tempting to cut-and-paste an internal job description to create your job advertisement. Put simply: Don’t! Corporate jargon and unclear responsibilities will not only turn potential candidates off from reading further — there’s also little chance they’ll think about applying. The key here is to make your job advert sound as interesting as possible, while revealing clues to the company culture. That means including information like:

      • What the role is (here’s where you can borrow content from the description, but jazz it up a bit!)
      • How the role contributes to the business
      • The company’s values
      • … and how you’ll live those values everyday

By including more than just key responsibilities, you increase the likelihood that the desired candidates will connect with the whole package: a position in a company that not only clearly defines how its people contribute to its success, but also talks about the importance of its values and culture.

But Gemma, how do I communicate the whole package?

Great question! That brings me to our next job advert snafu…


You’ve neglected the importance of job design.

The first step in attracting the right people to your company is getting really clear about the design of every role. That means, if your company isn’t getting job design right, then as a recruiter, you can’t mirror the messaging in a job advertisement. Subsequently, you can’t attract the right people.

However, if your organisation is spot-on with their job design, then lucky you! You have a great foundation for creating job adverts that wow. With a comprehensive job design in hand, your job now is to be open and honest in your job adverts.

Why? Because open, honest communication about what a job entails leads to hiring an employee that’s engaged. When a new employee walks in on day one with on-point expectations, he or she is going to be immediately engaged by the work, culture, and values.

But Gemma, what if I haven’t talked about values?

 Read on …

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You haven’t talked about values.

If a candidate isn’t clear on your company’s values, then it’s likely because you neglected to include them in your job advertisement. Likewise, if you’re not including values in your adverts, your best candidates aren’t going to stick around to see who else forgets them once they’re on the job.

At Reward Gateway, we have eight core values – and I ensure that every job advertisement I create not only reveals the relevant value(s), but also breathes life into how a candidate would embody those value or values on the job. Besides relevant skills and experience on a resume, a candidate’s values must align with your organisation’s. If they don’t, you’re going to be heading back to the drawing board and looking for new applicants much sooner than you’d like.

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You forgot you’re speaking to a human.

Casting a net into the wide sea of the internet can make us forget that we’re searching for–and speaking to–humans. As recruiters, we’re all guilty of this from time to time. Thankfully, this is one of the easiest fixes when creating great job adverts.

One trick I’ve implemented when creating job advertisements is to pretend I’m the hiring manager speaking to my ideal candidate. Writing in first person helps. So does addressing your audience like it’s an audience of one. For example, I’ll say: “This is what I need from you” before diving into the job requirements. The more personal and more human a job advert, the more likely you are to attract a human in return.

This advice also relates back to our “Be Human” value at Reward Gateway. We want to attract candidates that understand that every colleague, client, partner and supplier is another human being with their own hopes, fears, likes and dislikes. Therefore, I want to share and project that value in every one of our job adverts, in hopes that I’ll attract candidates that feel the same way we do. Way to walk the walk, eh?

We are currently trying out some new styles with our job adverts and so far my favourite is the one that highlights our values and explains how this person would live each value in that job role every day. It’s so honest and open and I think gives a real insight into the job. Here’s what that looks like: 

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Creating job adverts that candidates can’t ignore isn’t rocket science. It just takes communicating on a human-level, being open and honest about the job design, and clearly conveying your organisation’s values. I hope that by sharing my own lessons learned you’ll be able to create job advertisements that attract the candidates of your dreams.

And if you have any advice to share with me, I’d love to hear it, too! Feel free to let me know in the comments below. Until then, happy recruiting!

Gemma Matthews

Gemma Matthews is the Head of Talent Acquisition at Reward Gateway. When she's not adding to the RG family across our numerous offices, you can find her playing with her French bulldog, Denzel.

Head of Talent Acquisition

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