How to Write Job Advertising Copy – Tips from Alastair Cartwright

Recruitment advertisers often complain about the response they get from advertising online, especially on job boards. Much of this can be attributed to whether or not they are advertising on the right site. Does their chosen job board have an audience relevant to the position they are trying to fill?

Let’s be honest though, response is usually dictated by the quality of the ads you write and post online. When looking at recruitment ads on job boards or corporate career sites the overwhelming impression I get is…

Why are they still copy and pasting job descriptions?!

Listen up people – a job ad is NOT a job description, they perform different roles. A job ad is designed to grab people’s attention and get them interested in your opportunity.

Do not copy and paste the job description into an online ad.Make it your goal to write separate job ads for every role you advertise online.

You want some help with this? Ok here we go…

Key points when writing a recruitment ad online:

  • People read 25% slower online. Therefore cut the copy of the ad. Keep it short and snappy.
  • Break up your ad using paragraph breaks and bullet points. Large blocks of text are almost impossible to read online.
  • When people are looking at job ads online they are scanning for information. Therefore get the important information at the top of the ad and use keywords.
  • Finally always get someone else to read through your ad to check for spelling mistakes and grammar.

I encourage all our clients to work to a simple structure when writing an online job ad. Break the ad down into 5 paragraphs, ideally no more than 2 lines per paragraph:


“Attention Grabber”, insert keywords, use positive adjectives, generate interest. 85% of your readers will only read the first two lines, what are the most interesting aspects of the job? Don’t start the ads with “corporate waffle”.


“Set the scene” – refer to the job itself, the company, culture, market, or sector.


Highlight the key aspects of the job in terms of responsibility, areas covered, support, opportunities and status, etc.


Include a clear outline of the essential requirements for the successful candidate.


Outline the package offered including all benefits.

Not having salary information on a job ad will adversely effect the response. However many companies have a policy of not publishing any salary information, so there is little you can do.

Including salary information will increase response and improve the quality of responses, so there is an opportunity to differentiate against competitors.

Basic choices of salary presentation are:

  • a number: £37,000
  • a guide: C £37,000
  • a range: £30-40K
  • a floor: £30K+
  • a ceiling: Up to £40K
  • an open ceiling: Up to £40K+

Don’t forget a call to action

Finally, make sure the candidates know what to do next. There needs to be an explicit call to action at the end of each ad.

Good luck and remember most recruitment ads are woeful – it is easy to differentiate yourself online!

This post was originally written in January 2013 by Alastair Cartwright for the UK Sourcers New Year Sourcing Assignments and shared in the UK Sourcers LinkedIn group.

See Alastair run a session using data to help you write better job ads at Discover Sourcing in September 2013

Event: Onrec Gravity Recruiting Conference – 6th June 2012

Onrec LogoLast week I caught up with David Hurst of Onrec about their upcoming Gravity Conference on 6th June.

The theme of the event is using your online presence to help the right candidates find you.

I often say to people looking to use the internet to source talented people that it pays to be findable online yourself first. It is far easier to have the talent you want come to you. This event should provide some valuable insight into candidate behaviour, with statistics from comScore looking at where people go to find vacancies.

This is what Onrec have to say about it;

In an employment market where candidates are in abundance in some sectors, employers will be considering how to include into their recruitment strategy the best ways to attract the attention of active candidates.

So where do you start? For employers with a corporate website advertising vacancies on the recruitment area of the site is a good place. Linking with an applicant tracking system together and filter applicants is the next.

But how can you get the attention of those potential candidates? How will they find your vacancies? This unique conference will provide a range of strategies to help the candidate gravitate to your company’s vacancies.
This event will be of interest to employers involved in planning and implementing and running online recruitment strategies.

HR directors, Managers, Personnel Managers, Consultants and Suppliers involved in the online recruitment process will all benefit from attending.

Take a look at the speaker lineup, It seems there will be some interesting stories from Kelly Services and RWE npower. I look forward to reporting back to you next week.

LinkedIn Changes – Posting Jobs in Groups

LinkedIn announced yesterday that you can no longer post a job for free in a LinkedIn Group.

The Jobs tab is now comprised of two parts;


These are jobs advertised on LinkedIn (directly from paying employers) that match key words specified by the group manager or that have been shared into the group by any of its members.

If you are a LinkedIn Group manager, you should look into setting up this keyword search ASAP otherwise your jobs tab will probably be empty.

If your company already advertise on LinkedIn, this is great because you now have more exposure for your jobs. You can push your jobs out to relevant groups you are a member of yourself. To share a job into a group, simply use the share options on the top right of the job ad page.


Career Discussions

This is free.

I would guess that LinkedIn Group managers will be more likely to mark your job ads as spam if you post them here too brazenly, so be careful.

There is nothing to stop you starting a career discussion about where you might the perfect candidate for your latest vacancy though.

Katharine Robinson