7 Tips to Writing Job Ads That Will Elicit Stellar Hires
Tip: If your recruiting sucks, check your job ad
If you’re struggling to find great agents, the most likely offender is the quality of your job ads.
Most people fail to appreciate the role a compelling job ad plays in finding the best candidates. Some suffer from a little too much egotism (e.g., “They should consider themselves lucky if we hire them.”); others are old-school (e.g., “In my day we didn’t need to be courted”); and some just aren’t great writers.
Regardless of the reason, what you write about the open job you have — and how you write it — has a significant impact on your ability to find the right people.
Here are the top 7 tips to improve those lackluster job ads, and attract better performers:
1. Sell your company.
Many bad job ads read like a technical manual from an electronics manufacturer. Remember, your job posting is the first impression potential candidates have of your company. You don’t want that impression to be of a sterile and bleak environment.
Try pretending that you’re writing marketing copy to your customer instead of crafting a bullet list of legal documents to be presented in court.
Today, to compete with the proliferation of jobs made readily available to any job seeker, you have to sell your brand. The first thing you can do to improve your job ads is write an appealing description of your job, your team and your opportunity. Describe the specific benefits. Highlight the strengths of your organization in an inviting way. As with any good marketing copy, differentiate yourself with a compelling value proposition as to why your organization is better and desirable.
2. Avoid hyperbole.
“WANTED, KILLER ROCK-STAR sales monster to CRUSH all revenue expectations!!!” In the world of online writing, this is called “click-bait,” and this act of overpromising and hyperbole, just to get someone to read further simply doesn’t work.
First, it normally repulses all but the most desperate of applicants. Second, it pisses off the great candidates. They’re smart enough to see through the thin veil of snake-oil salesmanship. You’re hiring your next great listing agent, not promoting a traveling wrestling tour. Being motivational and inspirational is good, but try keeping it just shy of a meth-induced, manic-high level of excitement. OK?
3. Be specific, not pedantic.
At the complete opposite end of the continuum from No. 2 above lies the job description that is pronounced dead on arrival at the reader’s cerebral cortex. Of course, it’s important to give the job seeker a clear and specific list of duties and responsibilities. But it’s equally as important that you don’t overwhelm (and bore) them with a bullet list of requirements and duties that eat up an entire page.
You’re not hiring a nuclear engineer, so you don’t need to outline in bullet points every single task the person might ever possibly be asked to do. For example, you don’t need to write, “Complete reports in a timely manner.” No duh! When was the last time anyone preferred their reports to be tardy?
Such levels of minutia only serve to intimidate most job seekers. If it’s a chore to get through the list, they start to look like a bunch of — well, chores. Try hitting the most important specifics, and leaving a little bit to the imagination of the right candidates. Core responsibilities, salary range, primary tasks and general objectives are fine. Too much more and you risk glazing-eye syndrome.
4. Be different.
You have to realize exactly what you’re up against out there in today’s world of online recruiting. To say that your competition is “fierce” would be a massive understatement.
Indeed.com, the largest job aggregator site in the world, has 16 million job listings. CareerBuilder, Monster and Zip Recruiter (the next three largest job boards) collectively have approximately another 10 million active online job postings at any given time. That’s a hell of a lot of other companies looking for new employees.
Although you don’t want to stoop to trickery to stand out (see No. 2 above), you still must be unique if you ever hope to capture the attention of a job seeker who is trolling through a never-ending sea of job opportunities. Try creative headlines that don’t conform to the norm. Do a little research on Indeed.com and social media platforms to see what your competition is saying, and then be different.
5. Write like a blogger.
Today most people don’t read, they skim. In order to capture the job seeker’s attention, you have to get your message across in the opening few seconds and lines.
A healthy exercise is to go out to your favorite job board and act as a job seeker. Search a role for which you are hiring and see just how anemic and boring the top few lines of text can be. In both job title and the opening two lines of the job ad, you have to appeal to the reader’s attention span (that of a fruit fly, mind you).
You need to get your primary value statement across as quickly as possible, and achieve the three C’s: You must be concise, captivating and convincing. And hey, you have all of about three seconds to do it. No worries.
6. Don’t be rude.
Unfortunately, not so small a percentage of leaders out there have expressed a view of real estate agents as losers who couldn’t get work in any other role. Aside from being a sad commentary on those individuals’ perspective on their industry, it’s also one of the reasons why many of them struggle to find good talent — shocker.
When you put phrases in your job ad like, “Don’t waste our time,” “Only serious applicants need apply,” or “Do not contact our office. If we are interested, we will contact you,” you only hurt yourself. Aside from setting the completely wrong tone, you’re making yourself out to be a hard ass right from the get go.
Although you might think that you’re just being honest and trying to filter out applicants you don’t want to waste your time on, your visceral impression is just as poisonous to those great applicants as it is the bad ones. Try leaving any negative, restrictive or otherwise overbearing comments off the list.
7. Speak to the candidate, not the job.
Perhaps the single most important variable to reach the best matches to your job is to speak to the ideal candidate. Many mistakenly write to the job itself, not the personality of the ideal candidate for that job. Ask yourself what kind of person best fills that role (competitive, aggressive, compassionate, supportive, exacting, loyal, etc.), and then speak to them in the opening text of your job advertisement.
For example, if you’re hiring a listing agent or inside sales associate, use words that resonate with someone who likes sales (competitive, reward-based, earnings potential, passionate about selling, growth-oriented, etc.). If you’re hiring a buyer’s agent or showing assistant, speak more to the relational aspects of the candidate (join the team, support, family, helping buyers, etc.). For a transaction coordinator, talk about the systems, structure and policies of the role, and the opportunity to reinforce them, create them and make them “perfect.”
With but a few minutes of thought about the personality of the ideal candidate, you will start to see the role from their perspective. Then, just describe the opportunity accordingly when writing job ads.
To help with all of this, here are some top-performing job templates.