Job Ad Guideline

How to Write a Job Ad that Works

Since 2012, STARTUP SUCHT has reviewed and analyzed thousands of job ads for our clients. Startup clients tend to need a host of job ads to attract various talent. While the overwhelming majority is great at pinpointing their target stream of clients, there is always a reoccurring recipe that is sure to cook up some great applicants. Here are a few tips to writing job ads that attract the best applicants.

1. A Clear and Catchy Job Title

A job title is a brief description the job itself. The most precise example is to equate it to the subject line of an email. To get people to open the email, the subject line must be clear and catchy. It must stand out from the rest and catch the eye of someone who is giving it a quick scan. It must evoke a sense of purpose and speak directly to the applicant, leaving them intrigued by only stating the facts.

Remember: People are scanning a plethora of jobs and after so many lists, the job gets tedious. Therefore, drawing out an elevator pitch, instead of getting right to the point is a waste of everyone’s time. For best results, having a laser-focus on exactly what you are looking for is key. Pro Tip: The job title doesn´t have to be the “official” internal job title. It is only the bait; the rest of the details is the line and to get the talent a company wants the job ad must be reeled in with precision.

Good Title: Senior PHP Developer
Ineffective Title: Rockstar PHP Developer for the Next AI Unicorn

2. Nail the Short Description

The short description isn´t just a simple summary of the job. Good descriptions will politely and accurately weed out unqualified candidates while attracting qualified applicants and giving them everything they need to succeed through the application process.

This isn’t a handbook about the job or a dossier about the startup. While it can naturally have the personality of the company woven within it, the description of the job should get right to the point. It should tell the reader what the startup needs and highlight 2-3 important aspects of the job. That’s it.

3. Write an Ad, Not a Manual

When writing a job ad, it is imperative that possible applicants have a good idea of the job the startup requires, but it doesn’t have to be a play-by-play of their daily workload. The main reason for this is that qualified applicants should know what to expect. The only description the startup needs to worry about is ensuring the applicant understands how their specialty is applicable to the startup. Clarify what the role will do overall and never forget that this is an ad: ergo, you must always be selling the job. Make the potential applicants excited to work for you.

The primary role of a job ad is getting the right person to understand the startup’s needs and apply. This is the first impression of your company. Ensure that your potential future employees do not have to hack through your job ad with a machete to figure out what it is the startup needs from them.

4. Break the Text Down into Subsections

In today’s digital world, everything is just one click away. The same is true for not only your job ads, but also, the ads of your competitors. So, you want to make your ads look premier; outshining your competitors.

That doesn’t mean you have to embark on any corporate espionage; you don’t even have to know what your competitor’s ad looks like. The only thing a startup needs to do to get ahead is to take the time to structure each ad in a way that a job seeker can scan your ad in a quick and natural way.

Break the text down into sublines. A big block of words is intimidating, regardless of what it says. So, instead, make the text easier on the eye and more manageable by breaking it down into subheadings. This helps applicants read the ad and it also helps them give you what you want in an application because it is organized and easy to follow.

Pro Tip: Bullet points are your friend.

5. Distinguish ‘Must Haves’ from ‘Nice to Haves’

Of course, every founder has a perfect applicant in mind for each job, but no one is perfect. So, instead of showering the depths of the internet finding that Black Pearl among many beautiful, valuable pearls, decide what is essential for the role and what is desired.

Once you establish those aspects of the job, make the desired stipulations clear to the potential employees. There is nothing wrong with having a wish list of traits, but you don’t want to turn down a perfectly capable candidate before they even apply, simply because the clarifications of what is required and what is nice-to-have is skewed.

By structuring the ad in this manner, the founder can limit the potential for confusion and have confidence that readers understand which requirements are deemed essential.

6. Don’t Exaggerate

It is always a good idea to keep things simple. After all, you don’t want to overwhelm the applicant. There is going to be a learning curve, to begin with, so set realistic expectations on what the applicant can look forward to by being chosen for the open position. Remember to sell the job but in a realistic manner. (Don’t promise anything about Unicorns! Unless, of course, the startup actually has unicorns, then always talk about your unicorns.)

This isn’t an internal job description, this is an advertisement to lure in the best candidates. So, have fun with it. However, one of the worst things an ad can do is exaggerate the job description. This will only lead to the employer, the employee, or both parties being extremely disappointed.

7. Tell Them About Your Mission

It´s all about the money, right? Wrong. People want to be employed by a startup because they want to help change the world; to make it a better place.

Therefore, it is imperative that the job ad gives the applicant a snapshot of your startup’s ideals. Tell them who your customers are, what you are striving to change, and explain your ultimate goal (besides the world domination that everyone is after).

8. Talk to the Reader

Your readers are people. More than that, though, they are the people who you will potentially work with; the people who will one day become your team members, the backbone of your startup.

Therefore, the job ad should treat them as such. Talk to them, tell them your story, be specific, and by doing that, show them that you are a great team who can communicate effectively.

9. Use Tags to be Discovered

Utilizing tags to promote your job ad will result in a better ranking position in our result pages and is a short and specific way to garner the attention of the applicants that you want. SEO is everything when it comes to search results. So, if you don’t use tags or keywords, it is unlikely your job will get the attention it deserves.

Therefore, before writing a job ad, think about which keywords would your ideal applicant use to find the job your ad and include those tags in the post.

In summation, writing a job ad is far more difficult and thought-provoking than one might assume. Yet, if you utilize these tips, your startup will be well on its way to finding the perfect candidates before you even hit send.

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