Strategies to improve candidate experience through great job ads (The ultimate list)

Andy Agouridis Candidate experience Job ads

Employers have started hiring again, with some companies having urgent recruitment needs due to the recent COVID-related market disruptions. As the power shifts back to applicants, candidate experience is key to attract top talent. Employers know this and spend hefty budgets on several trendy activities, however, they often overlook a crucial step: the job ad. Without further due, we present you with 15 top tips for great job ads that will boost your candidate experience.

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Strategies for great job ads to boost your candidate experience:

1. Define your target audience

Recruiters and hiring managers don’t need to be marketing experts. However, if you are looking to create a great job ad, relevancy is key. And you won’t be able to be specific enough if you don’t understand your audience. Before you start writing copy, take the time to define your candidate persona. Have a look at your best performers and identify what they have in common. What do they like and dislike? Where do they hang out? How do they communicate? Make note of each and every detail, as it will form a solid foundation for your best job ads.

2. Focus on candidates

Most employers write job ads based on what they need. While you hire to solve your own problems and achieve your goals, this is not the best way to attract talent. Instead shift the focus to them. A compelling job ad will get talent thinking about how your vacancy is a solution to their problems. Speak to candidates about how you can help them grow. Let them know how great they will feel as part of your community. Don’t forget to share how well they will get compensated either.

3. Personalise your content

You won’t be able to connect with your audience if you don’t speak their language. Trying to entice them by putting the emphasis on them may not be enough if they don’t understand you. If you are looking to build strong rapport, here is how you can do it. Firstly, identify what are the most important concepts for your dream candidate. What would stand out to them from the job, your company, or the compensation package you offer? Once you know, create content that revolves around these elements.

Also, don’t forget to think about what keywords, language, and tone of voice resonates better with your audience. This way, you can ensure both the “what” and the “how” are aligned with their expectations. Winning!

4. Create a job ad, not a job description

Keep your job descriptions where they belong: in the HR department. Since you are looking to attract candidates, adopt a job advertisement mindset. While the two have similarities, there are also major differences. A job ad shouldn’t be an endless list of duties, responsibilities, and requirements. Instead, its purpose is to inform, excite, and inspire potential candidates to click on the “apply” button. Don’t expect to have many (quality) applicants without putting the effort to sell the job.

5. Structure your ads for success

Would you read an unclear and unstructured job ad? In order to increase your job ad views and in turn applications, we suggest adopting a best practice structure and sticking to it. Start with the job title. Then, move on to relevant employer information. Follow up with interesting information about the job. Lastly, close out with your requirements and compensation details. Bonus points for information related to the hiring manager, employee reviews, and related images or videos.

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6. Put readability first

Structuring your ads is a great first step, but may not suffice if your content is challenging to follow. Long chunks of text, heavy lists, and lack of clear sections are all a no-no. Instead, format your job ads in a way that makes reading effortless. Break your content down in sections. Use a title, headings, subheadings, and text. Apply bold, italics, or underlining to make important information stand out. Last but not least, select an easy-to-read font, such as Calibri, Verdana, or Helvetica.

7. Say no to cliche content

Most job ads out there are full of vague, generic, and cliche content that could be used for any industry, company, and job. We’ve all read about “fast-paced environments”, “hardworking teams”, and “opportunities of a lifetime”. While it may save some time when it comes to pulling a job ad together, I recommend staying away from this approach. If you are looking to attract savvy applicants, put the effort to impress them with specificity.

8. Design is underrated

While everyone understands the importance of design when it comes to websites, many miss the point when it comes to job ads. Content is king but it can’t get far without design. If you want to maximise candidate experience and attraction, you need to optimise both.

Think about a design that is not only functional, but also reflects your brand. Sophisticated recruitment technology comes with functionality that allows you to customise your ads. Colour, font, and images are only some of the elements you can use to boost UX.

9. Multimedia is your friend

Text can be powerful, but a combination of different formats always wins. Get closer to your dream applicants by sharing information with them via video and images. Each one of us has their own preferred format, so this is the best way to connect with a wider candidate pool. Plus, everyone appreciates a rich and diverse content experience.

10. Transparency over everything

No candidate will ever miss cryptic job ads. We understand that some job ads may be confidential. Also, sometimes you may not be able to disclose your salary ranges. However, this should be an exception. As a rule of thumb, we suggest including all key info that are likely to matter to a candidate. This includes your company name, the position of the job, and the compensation package amongst other things.

11. Avoid “creative” titles

No more “marketing ninjas”, “HR gurus”, and “sales superstars”. Once upon a time, copywriters thought that “out-of-the-box” titles could help, as they sound impressive. However, while they can be attention-grabbing, the issues overpower the advantages. Firstly, none of the above titles would play well with SEO, as candidates are unlikely to search for these keywords. Then, this approach creates inherently unclear titles that can be confusing. What is the seniority level of a ninja? Who is a guru’s manager? You see the problem?

12. Play on your strengths

Each company has its unique selling points. Make sure you clearly outline yours, as they are the foundations of your employer value proposition. If you are looking for some ideas, keep reading. Firstly, lead with your culture. Let your audience know what it feels like working with you. This way, you can expect more relevant applications, as potential applicants will self-screen for cultural fit. Then, be crystal clear not only about what you offer, but also about how you do things. What does it mean for someone to be part of your tribe? To sell the job, you have to start by selling the lifestyle.

13. Don’t forget about the job

Some employers apply too many gimmicks taking the focus away from the job. Don’t fall into this trap. Instead, identify, detail, and highlight vacancy-related information, such as the role’s context, purpose, and scope. I suggest using a combination of a few introductory paragraphs with a concise list of duties and responsibilities. Keep your sentences short and avoid jargon for extra clarity.

14. Ask for skills that really matter

The top mistake we've seen employers making when it comes to job ads is including too many requirements. We know that a developer who is also a designer and knows a bit of SEO and content writing on the side would be great. However, unrealistic expectations will only harm your chances of attracting top talent. Instead, start by identifying relevant skills and stick to them. Then, make sure you break them down to required, preferred, and desired to make things crystal clear for potential applicants.

15. Reveal the salary

Gone are the days when it was okay to “offer competitive salaries”. Transparency is key and candidates want to know what is on offer. If you are unable to give specific figures, ranges work great, too. Don’t forget that apart from attracting more talent, including compensation info also allows irrelevant applicants to self-screen themselves out of the process. At the end of the day, no one wants more applications from candidates who expect higher salaries or have less skills.

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Andy Agouridis

Andy helps candidates and employers connect faster and better. Apart from being a Jobylon contributing writer and a Careers content creator. He has a background in HR with Fortune 100 businesses, holds an MSc in HRM, and is a Chartered member of the CIPD.

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