How to write a good job ad

Here’s the job description of a Rockstar

Your key responsibilities would include the following:

  1. Arrive on time and recheck all connections to every sounding instrument on stage.

  2. Ensure that all other accompanying artists also come on time and all have tested and tuned their instruments.

  3. Understand and explain the wiring on stage and rehearse movements so nobody trips during the show.

  4. …………….blah blah

Desired candidate profile:

  1. Fluent in English (even if you’r performing tribal sufi rock in a language that’s extinct now)

  2. Pleasing personality (98% experienced rockstars are out of candidacy now)

  3. blah blah………

  4. more blah..

See the only reason you are advertising is because no one is applying on their own, right? So at least write what will make people sit up and notice you. That job ad above won’t ring a bell to even a stage electrician forget the rockstar.

Now take a look at your own job ads and think, “Would I have noticed this ad, would I have read it at all? Would I have applied? Should anyone apply to a company where people write such ads?

Every skilled person has enough job opportunities, the big risk people carry is not about not finding job but the real risk is about getting hired by a company like yours. That’s if you are writing job ads like above.

But you’re not such a bad place to work either, is it? Then why do you write like that?

What? You don’t write those ads but your team member in HR does. That’s all the same, The only reason you should delegate something is because someone else will do it better than you. And job advert is a public speak, does your HR write your press releases too?

Okay, let me help

I’ll suggest you write your job adverts, but if you’ve become a big CEO yourself, then I’ll give you a simple method, you can at least ensure whoever is writing job ads, is trained in it.

Let’s start with mindset shift first

Think like a marketer with the right candidate being your customer. Now imagine that the candidate is walking in the mall and you are one of the shopkeepers. First job is to get seen, second is to ensure that customer takes notice of you. First two done, you have to fight inertia, making it easy for customer to engage with you and lastly, put your best sales girl (or man) in front for closing. Job advertising is no different. Your entire focus has to be on the customer and not on you yourself. You don’t matter, customer does.

Now let’s come to who should write

This is strangely, very simple. A writer should write. That you never cared for this, is ironic. Even candidates ask a writer to write their resumes. That a writer should write is such a no-brainer. If it is too much of an effort, get a writer write a template for you, then re-use that template with some brain use.

Here is one template you can use

The Job Advert Template

Feel free to give me credit wherever you can, but nevertheless, feel free to use this template.

I am breaking down your ad in components that are aligned to most standard job site formats, you can definitely use this format to advertise your jobs on plugHR job board.

  1. Job Title:

    This is where you gain attention in the mall. it’s tempting to say that the whackier titles get noticed, but there is a problem there. It’s not universal. It’s not always true that a whackier title will get you right candidates. Here’s a short lesson in consumer behavior, “think like your customer” and follow their decision path. In case of job, aspiration angle applies. I may like the title of “VP of Marketing” simple because I have been reporting to one for long and I aspire for that title. If such a scenario a “Marketing Maven” or “Marketing Ninja” won’t fancy me, no matter how cool it may appear. So do a quick review of your candidate type for the role, industry, region to decide whether you want to follow conventional hierarchical mindset or the contra, rebel, break free mindset. Another good way is to do A/B testing. For job ads, its’s simplest to do since outcome is clearly measurable. A/B testing for late starters, is simply starting out with both titles in two different ads and then seeing which one is getting better responses. When comparing, don’t go by count of resumes coming in but look at the quality (right fit) of candidates applying. Right candidate’s response means your title is appealing to the right set of candidates. Volume can be addressed through amount of exposure, so don’t get misled by number of responses.

  2. About organization:

    Different job boards would name it differently, but all give you space to write about your organization. Now this is where your entrepreneurial or CEO self can make the biggest contribution. Your HR doesn’t see the organization like you do. Actually no one in the organization would see it the way you do. You only have the big picture view, a vision that you are taking the organization towards. Only you see that clearly and only you can write about it clearly. Good news is, that once written, it can be re-used for a good amount of time, till of course you change the vision. So it’s worth writing once. It doesn’t matter who types but this one needs your words. Keep it brief, customer’s attention span is limited. Treat it like your organization’s elevator pitch.

  3. About Job:

    DO NOT CUT & PASTE JD OF THE JOB HERE. Yes, the same JD that your HR has provided. Treat JD as a candidate repellent. Use it when you are advertising for your competitors. Paste this slogan on HR department’s wall “JD loses Talent”. Replace it with JA - Job Attraction instead. When writing about the job, focus on why this job exists and not on what goes in doing the job. Looking back at the Rockstar ad that we started with. JA for a Rockstar is to elevate the souls of those who live for rock. Those in audience, who have had it enough in life. Who deserve better. Rockstar needs to turn each of them into a rockstar themselves. That’s the job.

    Each job has that. The purpose of the job. Doctor’s is to fight disease, Engineer’s is to reduce human labour, solve problems. Find that JA for every role in your organization. This again is mostly re-usable content. Who writes? The writer writes. Good, you’re learning fast.

  4. Desired candidate profile:

    This is the NOT gate. A NOT gate in computer science is the limiting gate, it’s a barrier, it’s job is to tell applicants “this job might not be for you”. So use this carefully. Unlike the real NOT gate of computer science, this one is a soft gate. Which means that it won’t force stop anyone. Candidates will take the advise if it’s simple or they’ll jump the gate and apply anyways. That will make the NOT logic useless and would add to your work. That’s wasted dollars of expensive internal resources. Getting this right would require good thinking. Who do you really want? Someone who has studied music formally like Trinity level 5 something? Or someone who has been performing live? Or a passionate newbie?

    Trinity won’t matter if you can raise hell? If that’s the desired profile, then keep it just that. Simple one line profiles to my mind work best. Make it two if it’s pressing. Beyond that, no one’s reading. Another common mistake I see in many job ads is repetition. Most job boards have a separate place to mention required qualification, experience range etc. There is no need to write that again in this section. Repetitive writing simply tells the candidate “we are stupids and we don’t care about what we write”.

  5. Why should you work with us

    There may not be a section to write this in most job sites but you should try to find a place to write this. You can write it in about organization section or desired profile section or elsewhere. And even if you don’t get to write it in the job ad, you can write a blog with this title and then give the link of the blog in about organization section. “Why work with us” is the employer equivalent of “Why do you want to work with us” - the magic question on the candidate side. Haven’t been using this magic question? Too bad, it’s magic for real. But this blog is about job ad and not job responses, so more on this in another blog later. In "Why work with us” section, pour your heart out. This is your" “Romeo underneath the window moment”, play it to the gallery CEO.

  6. Compensation:

    Confidant employers say “we’ll pay the best in industry”. It’s okay to give the range. If salary is not limiting factor, do mention it. You don’t want another NOT gate here.

  7. More links

    Good employers want the applicant to read more about them before applying. Give as many link about your organization information as you feel happy sharing. Share authentic company sources, you don’t have to go on a social share drive. That candidates can search on their own.

Alright, now I am tired.

But you’ve got the template. You know what each component in the template means both in letter and spirit. You know who should write job ads and you know you have to paste something on HR’s wall.


Who should write? A writer should write.

Name a candidate repellent? JD that HR writes

What replaces JD? JA that is written after applying brains

What’s a NOT gate? Desired profile that’s written long and complex

When writing a job ad, who matters? Candidate only

How to thank me?

Share the article to others who can use it. Share on your social pages. Let’s see some awesome job ads out there.