Perfect Your Job Ads Now!

The best-qualified applicants for open jobs are often difficult to recruit.

To attract more of the best job seekers, start with writing “help wanted” ads to pull in the people you want. Following are guidelines, tips and examples to help you.

  • Put the job title or position name at the very top, left, above the headline.
  • Use an attention-getting headline to highlight a major benefit or the uniqueness of the job or your workplace. Answer the question: What two, three, or four words will get the most qualified candidates to spot the ad and read on? (Sometimes the pay or another tangible benefit, may be the best to feature in the headline.)

    Examples: Work Where You’re Valued. Make a Difference. Never a Dull Day. Wanted: Your Talents. $10 Hour to Start.

  • List the unique and most attractive features and benefits of working for you. What things set you and your workplace apart from other employers the job candidates could apply with?
  • Use friendly pronouns — we and you.
  • Include the job title or titles in the text of the ad.
  • Don’t use overused and exaggerated adjectives — trite words such as “exciting,” “fascinating” and “rewarding.”
  • Use abbreviations sparingly, and never two or more in a row.
  • Don’t use words applicants could view as illegally discriminating against them. No text like this: “Seek attractive, young woman [implies age and sex discrimination] for a receptionist position.” Use gender-neutral terms.
  • Don’t use words implying a promise of permanent employment, such as “permanent career opportunity” or “secure position.”
  • Stick to the truth. Don’t exaggerate benefits or opportunities. Don’t oversell your company.
  • Don’t use “blind” ads (with a box number address and no company name). Many applicants shy away from responding to blind ads.
  • Double-check and triple-check the spelling and punctuation. Errors in the ad could turn off the best-qualified applicants. This becomes even more important in this day of scam job ads. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns job seekers about bogus ads designed to capture personal information from applicants for the purpose of identity theft. One of the key warning signs of a scam, according to the FTC lists is typos and grammar errors in job ads.
  • List the required skills and qualifications. Be specific. Regarding skills and qualifications: Be sure the skills and qualifications you list are essential for performing the essential functions of the job. Many ads list an educational requirement when the education achievement level isn’t really essential for performing the job duties. For example, listing “BS degree required” in an ad for a telemarketing manager when having a BS degree is no evidence an applicant can successfully perform the job.
  • Don’t use “X years of experience” as a requirement. The number of years someone has done a job isn’t proof the person has the qualifications to do your job. Many people have X-years of experience repeating the first year of experience they had on the job. Better:“Must have proven skills to perform the essential duties of this job.”
  • List major job duties. Focus on the opportunities in the position.List the tangible benefits, such as paid vacation, paid holidays, paid health insurance.
  • List the level of pay.
  • List the employer’s or company’s name.
  • List the name of the contact person with the company.
  • Give applicants multiple ways to apply. List where and how to apply, such as: To apply, e-mail your resume to Fran at [e-mail address] or complete our application form at [address] between [hours] on [days]. Or apply online at [webpage address]. Or fax your resume to [fax #].
  • Tell about your company. What are one or two most important statements you can make about your company to make your company attractive to your employees?
  • List your website. Have an employee application page on your website and encourage applicants to apply online.
  • Run larger, longer ads, but less frequently. For example, run your ad in the Sunday paper only for seven Sundays, rather than seven days for one week. Or run your ad each Sunday and Tuesday for four weeks.
  • Use a border and a headline in larger type.
  • At the end of the advertisement, add a notice of nondiscrimination, such as “An equal opportunity employer” or “Women, minorities, and disabled persons encouraged to apply.”
  • Check your state law for any restrictions on wording in job ads.
  • Test your ad in different spots in the newspaper or publication. Place it in sections other than, or in addition to, the classified section. For example, place it as a display ad in the sports section, food and features section, or business section.

What Do Job Seekers Want?

You and the people you are seeking to hire may not agree on what should be highlighted in recruitment ads. For example, CareerBuilder, Inc., conducted a poll on this topic and discovered this: employers and the job applicants don’t seem to agree on what should be in a job ad.

Here’s what employers ranked as most important: Company vision (35 percent), job responsibilities (34 percent), job location and telecommuting (4 percent).

Here’s what employees ranked as most important: Duties of the job (28 percent), pay (25 percent), required job skills (20 percent), company vision (8 percent).

So how will you know what’s most important to list in your job ads to attract the best-qualified people you are seeking? Ask, and ask again. Perhaps it could be the 8 percent of job seekers who are most interested in seeing “company vision” in a job ad who you are trying to appeal to. You’ll find out by asking, and asking again. Ask your best current employees to tell you what’s most important to them to see in a job ad. Ask your best applicants. Over time, test several versions of job ads for the same job. Keep on asking the best job applicants. By testing and asking — you will create the ads with content which works the best for you.

Creating and Improving Your Ad

With your three to six most recently hired employees, write the text of your ad, to create the very best ad you can. Ask them to create an ad which would increase the chances one of their friends or family members would read the ad and apply if they were seeking such a job.

Once the ad is running, after doing interviews with the best applicants who apply because they read the ad, show them a copy of the ad and ask the applicants three questions: Q. What in our ad caught your attention? Q. What in our ad caused you to apply? Q. What would you change or add to our ad to make it a better ad?

Then, continue to improve your ad, using input from your new employees. Every two or three weeks, get several of your newest employees together and ask them to improve on the ad. Gradually, you’ll learn exactly which words, phrases, and statements in your ad are responsible for bringing you the best applicants.

Ad Example #1

Client Service

Your Talents Wanted

Use your talents in a variety of ways to assist our clients. Gain satisfaction when clients reward you with appreciation. Enjoy the flexible hours and working with team members who support you. Important duties include assisting clients in the selection of products and assisting the manager in identifying and obtaining new clients. Your previous work, school activities, and other experiences will show us you have unique talents and skills which qualify you for this position. Your proven ability to give outstanding customer service will qualify you to begin at $10 an hour. We will offer you 15 days of paid leave, 7 paid holidays, and paid health insurance when you join our team. Apply to [John Doe] at XYZ Company at [address] or apply on our Website at [Web address]. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Ad Example #2


$8.50 to $13 Hour

No high-pressure calling. Opportunity for telesales professionals to call businesses for a national corporation. Personal workstation in a professional office. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., M-F. Earn $8.50 to $13 hour with commissions, bonuses. Paid vacation, paid personal leave, paid holidays, paid health insurance. Your most important qualifications are: A mature voice and speaking ability. A work history which demonstrates reliable attendance. Experience which demonstrates selling skills. Call [phone number] or apply at [Company Name], [address]. Women, minorities, and disabled persons are encouraged to apply.

Ad Example #3

(From a PR-Ad Agency Website)

Senior Copywriter

We are looking for a copywriter who can come up with the big idea and carry it through on just about anything. Brand building way beyond ads. We need someone who can bring passion to the craft of writing and to their work. The most qualified candidates will demonstrate successful agency experience, high-tech experience, creative advertising and collateral work experience, and an awareness of how the web works. We’ve got a great environment, great people and a great list of clients. If you want to give your brain the chance to go all out, send us your resume. E-mail: [e-mail address]. Fax: [fax number].

Ad Example #4

(From a PR-Ad Agency website)

Office Assistant

The Office Assistant aids in the production of press kits, books, proposals. Orders and manages office supply inventory,manages PR Magazine Subscriptions. Works as a back up for Front Desk, also provides phone coverage at times. Handles other projects and tasks as needed. Requirements: Experience with office machinery – fax, copier, e-mail, postage machine. Prior experience handling high volume of calls on multi-line phone system. Comfortable working with deadlines. Strong attention to detail needed. Professional, willing to learn and work hard. Interest in PR or advertising preferred. Send us your resume. E-mail: [e-mail address]. Fax: [fax number].


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