Writing an effective recruitment advertisement

Feb 15, 2016 | Recruitment

When designing your advertisement you are trying to achieve neither too many unsuitable responses, nor too few with suitable qualifications. You want the right people to apply, and the wrong people not to. To do that you need to communicate effectively with potential candidates, describing the job and the requirements of the suitable applicants accurately, and giving the relevant and appropriate information in the right way.

So what should you include in your ad?

Eye-catching headline or image

Whilst the information contained within the ad is important, to enable candidates who would be suitable to identify themselves as such, and those who would not be suitable to work that out and not apply, you also want to ensure you catch the eye of potential candidates.

Some roles, publications or employers lend themselves more naturally than others to more creative headlines, but it’s worth browsing the publication or internet site you are planning on using to see which ads jump out and which blend into the background. You don’t want yours to be missed!

The job title and main responsibilities

The job title should be clearly understood and unambiguous, and there should be a brief summary of the main duties involved. If your organisation uses less conventional job titles, further explanation may be appropriate.

Candidates should be able to understand what the role is and what the level of seniority will be, to help them decide whether to apply. Either overstating or understating the level will be counterproductive.

Any unique or unusual features of the job should be mentioned, to enable candidates for whom those might be either attractive or the opposite to make a fully informed decision.

The name of the organisation

A lack of information about who the employer will be is likely to result in a lower response, and some brief information about what the organisation does should also be given. What sector does it operate in? What are the main objectives of the organisation and of the team the role sits in?

Person specification

Key qualities of the person required should appear, particularly those which are essential. This will enable those who will definitely not be suitable to- self-select’ themselves out, minimising unsuitable applications.


Salary or salary range should be stated. Advertisements which use statements like- attractive salary’ or- salary negotiable’ result in lower response rates. Potential applicants may come to the conclusion that if the salary really was- attractive’ the actual figure or at least a scale or range would be publicised. Other benefits available or intrinsic rewards such as training and development opportunities or flexible working could also be mentioned.

Location and travel requirements

Place of work should be stated as well as any travel requirements. As in the person specification, for discrimination purposes do not state- must be able to drive’ or similar, instead give the specific travel requirements you have in terms of frequency and geographical range.

Action required

You should be clear about how the applicant should apply, what the deadline is and if possible, a potential start date and/or timescale for the recruitment campaign, to avoid lots of telephone calls from applicants who are unsure by when they should have heard about their application.

If you would like advice on effective recruitment in your business, do get in touch.