Top 10 tips for writing your own job ad copy

Posted by Nick Mitchell on May 17, 2019 10:55:02 AM
Nick Mitchell

Hey, look, I don’t want to put us out of work. I’m more than happy for Jupiter to handle your recruitment copywriting needs. But you know that there are better uses for your agency budget. Strategy, creative direction, hot new media platforms, project work... So the less you spend on copywriting, the more you have to siphon into the stuff that’s going to truly affect engagement with your Employer Brand and bring in the awards. 

With that in mind, here are my top 10 tips for writing your own job adverts.

 

  1. Don’t just copy and paste the job spec
    Come on, you can do better than that, surely. A job spec is very detailed and tells a new starter exactly what’s expected of them. But it’s hardly exciting to a potential candidate, is it? A piece of job ad copy has to sell a role, not just detail it. So it has to sound motivating and captivating. It’s about bringing to life your audience’s desire to apply, even if they didn’t know that desire existed until now. So put some thought into it.
  1. Get to know your brand guidelines
    If you’re working for a medium-to-large enterprise, it’s almost certain that you’ll already have copywriting guidelines in place. They’ll have been devised by your corporate brand team, maybe in conjunction with a branding agency. In fact, your brand people probably sit there thinking, ‘I wish our ruddy HR people would pay closer attention to our corporate brand guidelines when writing copy!’ So you’re going to make some friends internally by taking an active interest in their work and learning to replicate the style in your own writing.

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  1. Follow the classic format

There’s a failsafe format to writing a job advert. It goes like this:

Paragraph 1 – Introduce the company and the context of the role
Paragraph 2 – Describe the role as if you were telling a friend about it
Paragraph 3 – Describe the qualities you’d like the person to have – qualifications and experience first; softer skills second
Paragraph 4 – Detail the benefits on offer – this will hook your target audience in and strengthen their resolve to apply
Paragraph 5 – Give a succinct, thorough call-to-action with a deadline for applications.

 If your writing tends to sound like it’s just fallen out of your brain at random onto the page, then this format will save you from yourself. Totes necessary! 

  1. Say ‘you’ and ‘us’. Don’t say ‘the successful candidate’ and ‘the organisation’
    When did you last say the words, ‘the successful candidate’ out loud to an interviewee? When did you last refer to your company as ‘the organisation’ out loud in an interview, rather than ‘we’ or ‘us’? Exactly! So don’t write those things, either. Well, not if you don’t want to sound like Stuffy McStarchedcollar, that is.
  1. Write for your target audience, not for yourself
    You might talk like someone’s nan in your day-to-day life or you might talk like Ali G. (remember him?) It doesn’t matter. When you’re writing a job ad, it’s important to remember whom you’re talking to. That doesn’t mean you need to start affecting a fake ‘cool’ voice if you’re talking to young people. There’s little more cringe inducing than try-hard cool. Just relax and remember whom you’re talking to and how they like to be spoken to.
  1. Keep it punchy
    If your candidates wanted to read War & Peace, they could pop down Waterstones and grab a copy on their lunch break. Thou wouldst not imbue upon thy candidates reams of waffly purple prose in thine daily chitchat, wouldst thou? No. So knock it off and get to the point. 
  1. Be mindful of SEO
    Having said that (up there ^^^), you’re going to want to make sure your ad shoots to the top of the list of relevant ads on the old Google. So… make a list of all the keyword phrases that relate to the role and make sure to use each of them, without losing sense or meaning and without sounding spammy (because you’ll just get filtered out of listings if you do). Also, check out Google Analytics and/or Hubspot’s Sources tool to find out which keywords people are already using for similar roles.
  1. Make effective use of bullet points
  • Too
  • Many bullet
  • Points can
  • Be
  • Annoying and take up
  • Reams of
  • Space
  • But use them to help
  • Break up the ad so it’s
  • Easier to read 

Oh and make sure your bullet points make sense. Each one should follow on from the last word of the sentence that precedes the first bullet point. 

For example, you would:

  • Use a bullet point like this
  • Put down a bullet point like this
  • Write out a bullet point like this 

You wouldn’t: 

  • Bullet point one goes here
  • Here is a bullet point
  • This is where a bullet point goes
  1. Read your copy out loud
    If it sounds rubbish when you read it out loud, it probably is. If it sounds magic, get it out there! If it’s somewhere in between, work out what’s not quite working and go back in there and tweak it. The ‘out loud’ test is a simple and gloriously effective way of knowing the difference between a lovely bit of writing and total gobbledygook.
  1. Proofread it before it goes live
    The best way to do this is to sit someone down in front of you with a copy for them and a copy for yourself and read it out loud. Tap out each word on the desk as you read it to focus their attention. They’ll soon see any mistakes and help you to point them out. Every piece of copy you put out there puts your reputation on the line. If your copy is badly written or full of mistakes, it will not make you look good. It’s like the famous ‘NO REGERTS’ tattoo. It makes you sound a bit thick and not very appealing. The better your copy, the more attractive you’ll be.

Don’t be put off or scared by any of the above. You can totally do it. It just a case of crafting your copy and getting lots of practice. You’ll notice yourself getting better and better and becoming more and more comfortable with each piece of copy you write. And feel free to keep referring back to this article to help you as you learn and develop. Happy writing, folks!

Topics: Candidate Attraction Campaign