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What Not to Include in a Job Ad

Published November 5, 2012


Finding the right candidate for a much coveted position within your organization can be, well, a full time job of its own. There are recruiters, hr services and other tools available to help you get the right applicants. Sometimes all it takes is a really great job ad in the right place to expedite the process.

Though writing the job ad may seem like the easiest part of the process (just cut and paste the job expectations- that should do, right?), you need to take time to make sure you are including the right things, but more so, removing things that really don’t matter or should only be available to individuals after they pass a certain qualification phase, like knowing when pajama Fridays take place.

Below we list the things you SHOULD NOT include in your job ad, why they are ineffective and what you should actually be ‘jobvertising’.

1. Absurd photos

We know that your company should exude culture, especially to those not face-to-face with it everyday. And since a picture says a thousand words, it may seem intuitive to use a couple to get some attention. But you should refrain from including unnecessary photos in your job ad. Why? Well, photos are not necessary to begin with. The purpose of a job ad is to “emphasize why a qualified individual should apply for the job”. Pictures of last year’s pajama party or last week’s pumpkin carving contest, won’t do much to attract the right candidate (unless you are in business to sell pajamas or pumpkins). Use the real estate in your ad for a much richer job description.

“Job ad is your direct medium of communication with a candidate. In reading, a potential candidate quickly forms a lasting impression of your company culture and how that potential candidate envisions daily life at your workplace. “ David Smooke

2. Excessive details

Contrary to popular belief, experience does not equal job performance. It is actually a low predictor of future success. While our first instinct may be to include every single detail of the job to garner the ‘best fit’ applicants, the truth of the matter is that someone does not need to have thirty years as a halogen light bulb manufacturer in Ohio to do well in a similar role.

Of course certain skills are necessary to any position, but a job ad is not a place to brain dump every single job expectation. Nor is it a place to ramble on about minute details. Keep the ad short, simple and make sure that every sentence and every word serves a purpose. Less copy; more information.

3. Too much emphasis on the job

Don’t ignore the person reading your ad! You can easily alienate potentially great candidates by writing on and on and on about the job itself and not about the person. Highlight what makes a great candidate, what qualities are most important and why. Don’t write it out as though you are hiring a robot. Even if it is a cookie cutter job, make it compelling; the quality of applicants will go up.

4. Too much attention to what you want

Managers, startups and businesses alike have the tendency to seek out candidates they ‘like’ more so than those that will compliment their skillset and actually fill the position nicely.  Avoid writing a job ad like you would a personal ad. Make sure you are not advertising for a date, but for someone who has complimentary skill sets and can maximize his or her productivity. You may not want someone who is more intelligent and extroverted than you, but you may need them.

5. Boring ads

Blah, blah, blah. The ideal candidate this, the ideal candidate that. Don’t create a repetitive boring ad. Stand out from the rest (including your competitors), by making the ad fun and worth applying for.  Write using inspiring action verbs like: create instead of produce, advance instead of promote, and execute instead of carry out.

6. Binders full of women

Mitt Romney might not agree here, but you must avoid any discriminatory, defamatory, sexist and racists remarks. Anything misleading could put you in a nasty place (like court). Don’t tarnish your brand or company in favor of what you may think makes up an ideal candidate. Job ads must remain gender, race, and faith neutral. You are looking for someone to bring your company to the next level now, regardless of their non-work related background.

7. No way to easily apply

So, here you are, your brilliant ad is complete. It’s published and what seems like qualified candidates are applying for the job. But what you don’t realize is that 90% of the top performers lost interest in the process because you did not leave them with an easy place to send their information.  A simple apply now button with basic information fields will do the trick. It does not have to be fancy but should focus on asking the most qualifying questions. Give applicants an easy place to upload their cover letter and resume and leave them feeling confident about their application. To appease our mothers, including a simple ‘thank you for applying’ is always a nice way end your application process on a positive note.

Your job ad needs to get candidates’ attention, qualify them, and motivate them to apply for your opening all while saying a lot in only a few words. It truly is a game of word math. Choose your action verbs and descriptions wisley. Who knows, the next Steve Jobs could be the one applying.

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