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