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Why Tone of Voice Matters in Job Advertising

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If your job advertising tone of voice is more ‘bland’ than ‘on-brand’, then you’re missing a vital opportunity to connect with candidates.

What is tone of voice in job advertising?

Tone of voice is how your brand personality, character and values come through in the way you communicate. Alongside your visual identity, your tone of voice is part of your employer brand toolkit. It tells people who you are, why you’re different and why you’re trustworthy.

Your tone of voice consists of the linguistic decisions you make whenever you speak or write, including how you use things like:

  • Vocabulary
  • Syntax or sentence structure
  • Grammar
  • Emojis
  • Humour

To put it simply, it’s not what you say (although obviously that’s important), it’s how you say it.

Think about you speak day to day. Your tone changes depending on who you’re talking to and the situation. For example, you might use one tone when you’re in a business meeting and a different tone when you’re out with mates.

Your tone also changes depending on the emotional state of the person you’re speaking with. If someone’s upset, your tone might soften or become more compassionate. You probably won’t make jokes.

In the same way that we naturally adjust our tone to the people around us, your recruitment marketing tone of voice needs to match your audience, their emotions and their situation. To be heard in today’s competitive talent market, you need to speak your candidate’s language.

Why’s tone of voice important when writing a job advertisement?

For every person on earth, approximately 1.7MB of data is created every second. 500 million tweets and 2 million blog posts are published every single day, and we’re exposed to over 5,000 adverts. The phrase ‘big data’ doesn’t begin to cover it.

In this content overload, attracting jobseekers and retaining their interest can be a real challenge. Research from Microsoft found that the average attention span has dropped to just 8 seconds – that’s not a lot of time to make an impression, so every word needs to be meaningful.

Your language reveals your culture and your values, and this information is like recruiting gold dust.

  • 94% of candidates consider your employer brand before applying for a job
  • 77% of jobseekers wouldn’t apply for a job if they disagreed with or didn’t know your company’s values
  • 50% of those surveyed by Glassdoor said that company culture is more important to salary when it comes to job satisfaction

For many organisations, your job advert could be the first experience someone has with your brand. Your language choices will shape how they see your company, their expectations of you as an employer and whether they can see a future for themselves at your organisation.

On the other hand, your recruitment advert may be the latest in a stream of interactions a candidate has had with your brand, as both a consumer and as a candidate. There’s a web of online and offline touchpoints between jobseekers and your company, all of which shape the candidate’s expectations, behaviour and attitude.

Recruitment tone of voice vs. corporate brand tone of voice

Research by LinkedIn found that candidates are 2-4 times less likely to apply if the tone of your job advertising doesn’t match your brand tone of voice. When it comes to branding and your employer brand, consistency is key.

But in the same way that you change your tone depending on who you’re talking to, it’s important to reflect the different needs, goals and sentiments of your target candidates, as opposed to your customers.

Your candidates have different priorities to your consumers. Even if they share similar characteristics, their goal for their interaction with you is different.

There are few purchases that are as important, time-consuming and potentially life changing as a new job, and the way you talk to candidates should reflect that. They’re not buying a watch or making a dinner reservation – they’re making a life decision.

In crafting your recruitment tone of voice, you should be thinking ‘how can I adapt our brand voice to our candidates?’ rather than throwing the brand guides out the window.

Your marketing team are perfectly placed to help you with this. They’re experts in branding and communications and will know your corporate brand guidelines inside out.

And let’s face it, the minute marketing get a whiff that you’re working on tone of voice, they’ll be there faster than you can say ‘brand guidelines’. So be proactive and involve your marketing team in the project. They’ll be glad you’re seeking their input and they’ll bring a heap of knowledge and expertise to your team.

Finding your voice

Defining your recruitment tone of voice is about having a detailed understanding of your audience. You need to know your ideal candidate: what’s important to them, what are their goals and how do they speak? These things will help you define your tone of voice.

Building candidate personas will give you a clear idea of what matters to your candidates and allow you to create a recruitment tone of voice that connects with jobseekers. We have a handy template for creating candidate personas – it’s free to download here.

Importantly, your tone of voice should be unique. Candidates should be able to recognise that it’s you and understand your values, just by your tone. I’d highly recommend this article by SEMRush if you’re looking for a step-by-step guide to designing your tone of voice. It’s written for marketers, but is easily transferable to recruitment.

Developing your unique recruitment marketing tone of voice will help you write better job adverts: ads that engage candidates and keep their attention. So when you next come to write a job advertisement, don't forget your tone of voice.

Tips for Hiring During Covid 19

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The new normal: tips for hiring during the global lockdown

As we adjust to this new normal, the only thing we know is that nothing is normal at all.

Covid-19 has, in a matter of weeks, changed everything about the way we live. Never have the words ‘difficult’ and ‘unprecedented’ felt so relevant and yet so woefully inadequate.

In the two weeks since the UK’s lockdown began, over 950,000 people applied for Universal Credit – an almost ten-fold increase compared to a ‘normal’ fortnight – and more than 9 million workers are expected to be furloughed.

There are no words to accurately describe everything that’s happening right now. But in these indescribable times, life goes on. We’re learning new skills and taking up hobbies. Our gardens have never looked so good. Dogs are so happy to have us home, they’re spraining their tails from wagging them too much. There are rainbows in windows and posties in fancy dress.

So as we get used to life in lockdown, the question we’re all asking is ‘how can I help?’

As recruiters, you’re in a unique position to help provide security and hope. Whilst many of you will be in the middle of a hiring freeze right now, for others, hiring will be continuing or even increasing for the next few months.

So if you are hiring at the moment, how should you adapt your recruitment marketing strategies to respond to Covid 19? Here are our top three tips for continued hiring in today’s strange world.

Don’t carry on as normal – review your hiring communications and workflows

It’s not ‘business as usual’ and your comms need to reflect this. Your workflows, email communications and job adverts need to reference the current situation, and the uncertainty and anxiety people are feeling.

Ploughing on with your standard recruiting processes and content will make you seem uncaring, uninformed and ignorant. And who wants to work for that company? Review your automated emails and inbox auto-replies – these are easily forgotten about and could be at best, out of touch, or at worst, insensitive and incorrect.

You need to go above and beyond to show people that you’re there for them, you’ll support them and help them feel secure. Clarity over practical matters, like interview processes, business continuity plans and your social distancing implementation will help.

But the biggest thing you can do is show jobseekers that you value them. That their role is important and you recognise their bravery in moving forward with a new role at this time. Be candid. Tell people how this role impacts the organization’s success right now. Recognise that times are uncertain, but that you’re committed to their future at your company.

Be (even more) human

The last thing jobseekers need right now is corporate babble.

Even at the best of times, the language we use in our job advertising and recruitment marketing is overly complicated, wordy and formal. We recently analysed the average reading age of 8,500 UK job adverts and found that 1/8 were more difficult to read than Darwin’s Origin of Species.

Across the board, the average reading age for a UK job posting is 18. That doesn’t mean that anyone aged 18 can read it. It means you need a university education just to understand it.

Practically, it means that our language is way too complicated. Our sentences are too long, our phrasing too convoluted and our words too formal.

It may sound like a small thing, but poor readability is another barrier to application for candidates. Improving the reading age of your recruitment advertising content has been proven to increase conversion rates by 37%, ordinarily.

In these extra-ordinary times, you need to remove all unnecessary barriers and blockers from your recruitment process. Starting at the top of the funnel with your job advertising copy will help you attract more qualified and more diverse candidates.

You should aim to reduce the reading age of your job advertising and recruitment marketing to 14, by shortening sentences and reducing word length. This is a comfortable reading age for around 75% of the UK’s population.

Make your onboarding extra-special

Starting a new job should be exciting, but it can also be full of nerves and social anxiety. For some people, this will be compounded by the prospect of working from home full time; by being around new people while social distancing; or by the added pressure of the pandemic on their daily lives.

If you’re onboarding new starters during the lockdown, think about how you can help ease these pressures and give your new colleagues a warm welcome.

Whilst little gestures like delivering a welcome pack, assigning buddies and hosting virtual networking opportunities will be valued, the most important thing you can do for new employees is start a conversation.

It can be difficult to ask for flexible work arrangements, additional equipment or even days off when you’re new to a role. These things are more important than ever right now. Ask new starters directly if they need to work flexibly or need any additional support.

Be specific with your questions and make sure to ask again when they’ve settled in more. People may not tell the whole truth when they’re brand new to a role, so make sure you ask twice.

As we make our way through the next few months, hiring may be bottom of your priority list, and that’s fine. But for those of you that are recruiting, hopefully these tips will help you adapt your recruitment marketing comms to continue hiring in the next few months.

Improve quality of hire with these 3 tips

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Improve Quality of Hire with these 3 tips for enhancing your job adverts

There are many factors that influence Quality of Hire, from your interview process to your email communications. One factor that’s often overlooked is your job advert, so in this article, we’ll explore how your job post can be your secret weapon in increasing your Quality of Hire.

What is Quality of Hire?

Quality of hire is a way of measuring hiring effectiveness. It’s a broad term for a variety of metrics that show how well the company has attracted the right people for the right roles.

One of the tricky things about measuring Quality of Hire is that ‘quality’ is a pretty woolly term. Reliable measurements need quantitative data and a standardised formula, and it’s not always easy to find standard ways of tracking quality.

Because of this, the best way to measure Quality of Hire is to track a range of metrics that are indicators of quality. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Performance appraisal scores
  • 360 feedback
  • Retention rate
  • Rate of salary increase
  • Customer service score
  • Talent Scorecard
  • Employee Lifetime Value

Quality of hire can only be measured in hindsight. Interviews, pre-hire assessments and psychometric testing are all ways of trying to predict and improve Quality of Hire, but they are not accurate indicators of quality.

Given that there’s no ‘right’ way to measure quality of hire, it’s no surprise that most companies don’t feel entirely confident about the way they measure it. According to LinkedIn’s Global Trends report, only 33% of companies felt happy with their Quality of Hire reporting.

Chart showing 33% of companies feel happy with their Quality of Hire reporting

Why is Quality of Hire important?

You might be wondering why bother? Well, Quality of Hire is the single most important and influential metric you can track.

Compared to efficiency metrics, like cost of hire and time to hire, Quality of Hire provides a fuller, more accurate picture of Talent Acquisition’s impact on company strategy. Rather than focusing on hiring quickly and cheaply, which can drive false economies and cost-cutting, Quality of Hire emphasises finding the right person for the right role. It will help you:

  • Measure your assessment accuracy
  • Demonstrate the impact of the TA team on a company’s ability achieve business goals
  • Show how recruitment activity benefits other functions of the business
  • Improve your candidate selection and assessment
  • Understand your best sources of hire
  • Increase staff retention

The results of this are significant. Companies measuring and improving their quality of hire can see increased revenue generation, higher productivity and improved morale. So yeah, it’s worth the effort.

How to improve Quality of Hire by enhancing your job adverts

Your job adverts are your shop window. They sit at the top of your recruitment funnel and affect the quality and the quantity of candidates you attract.

But when everyone in your team has approximately 6,000 open reqs at any one time and the only feedback from your Hiring Manager is ‘they’re just not the right fit’, job adverts can feel like the last thing on your priority list.

So you copy and paste the last job ad you used or publish an internal job spec without batting an eyelid. We get it.

But your job advert has the power to directly influence the quality of candidates in your pipeline. A high-performing, inclusive advert can transform your candidate attraction strategy from the very top and send your Quality of Hire through the roof.

Here are our tips for writing top-quality job ads that attract top-quality candidates.

Make your adverts more appealing to neurodiverse talent

Neurodiversity refers to the different ways our brains process information. It highlights that everyone thinks differently – we have different interests, skills and motivations.

According to Acas, 1 in 7 people in the UK have a neurodiverse condition, like ADHD, Autism or Dyslexia.

The way we write job adverts can cause problems for neurodiverse talent. Jargon and figures of speech, for example, are particularly hard for people with Autism to understand.

Qualities such as ‘good team player’ or ‘excellent communication skills’ are often included in job adverts as standard, without real thought as to whether they’re required. This can mean that suitable candidates may assume they’re not right for the role, when in fact they’re highly qualified.

Writing more inclusive job adverts will make your recruitment postings more engaging to everyone, including neurodiverse people. Here are our top tops:

  • Reduce your advert’s reading age to between 11 and 14
  • Prioritise clarity and plain English
  • Remove jargon
  • Review your requirements and make sure you only list skills that are absolutely necessary for the role
  • State explicitly that you welcome applications from neurodiverse candidates

Be honest about the role and the organisation

I’m not a massive fan of the word ‘authentic’. In fact, I hate it. It’s the marketer’s naff word-of-the-moment and it’s been bandied around so much by lifestyle brands, advertising execs and influencers that it’s become pretty much meaningless.

But when it comes to improving your Quality of Hire, it’s crucial that your recruitment advertising is *shudder* authentic. By that I mean that your adverts should be:

  • Honest – about the role and the organisation
  • Self-aware – be conscious of your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Verifiable – could someone walk into your company today and get exactly what they expect

The further you stray from these three pillars of authentic job advertising, the less likely you are to find high-quality candidates that are right for your business.

Now, I know how tempting it is to elaborate. As a recruiter, it’s your job to sell the company and the role. But embellish your advert too much and it’s only a matter of time before you get caught out.

Yes, you might attract qualified jobseekers, but any candidate that’s worth your time is more likely to drop out at interview or early into the role. Basically, whenever they realise your ad was a load of nonsense. All you’re doing is kicking the problem up the road and impacting your Quality of Hire.

Here are a few tips for ensuring your recruitment ads are honest, self-aware and verifiable:

  • Avoid stock photography. It doesn’t help jobseekers get an accurate picture of their future workplace and research has shown that users are becoming ‘blind’ to stock images, in a similar way to banner blindness.
  • When creating your job spec, ask your Hiring Manager to describe the core tasks the new hire will be expected to do. Build your job advert around these to make sure it gives an accurate description of the role.
  • Tell it like it is. If KPIs and sales targets are an important part of your company culture, say that.

Tailor your adverts to your ideal candidate for maximum creative impact

The key to improving Quality of Hire is hypertargeting – delivering highly-relevant messages to jobseekers when they’re most likely to see it.

It’s not enough to send in-demand candidates to a bland and irrelevant careers page, you need to wow them with a job advert that’s literally written for them.

For example, if you’re sourcing a candidate for a senior development role, send them to an advert with a testimonial from a future colleague. Add videos of your CTO or other influential team members speaking at industry events. Describe their career progression path. Tailor your content to the needs and wants of that specific senior developer.

To do this, you’ll need an understanding of your jobseeker personas. A persona is a “semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”

Personas should be detailed and distinct. You need enough personas to cover most of your jobseekers but not so many that you lose the specificity or distinctness that sets that persona apart from the rest.

Once you have your personas defined, you can set about customising your job adverts with engaging, rich and super-relevant content.

However you choose to measure Quality of Hire, improving your job adverts will have an impact on the quantity and quality of candidates you receive.

People aren’t reading your job ad. Here’s why.

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If you’re not getting enough quality applications from your job postings, it could be down to your advert’s readability.

What is readability?

Readability is a measure of how easy a piece of text is to read and understand. One way of measuring readability in job ads is to analyse reading age.

Reading age looks at things like sentence length, syllable density and vocabulary to score the level of education a person needs in order to comfortably understand a document. The higher the reading age, the more difficult your job posting is to understand.

Why does readability matter in job adverts?

We analysed the average reading age of 8,500 UK job adverts from a range of industries, from engineering to education. And what we found is pretty eye opening. Take a look:

Table showing average reading age of job adverts by industry

The average reading age of a UK job advert is 19.3. It varies slightly depending on industry, with hospitality coming in at 17.7 and Public Sector recruitment ads topping the list with a mind-blowing 20.5. In fact, 14% (or 1 in 8) job adverts we analysed were harder to understand than Charles Darwin’s “Origin of Species”.

1 in 8 job adverts are more difficult to read than Darwin's Origin of Species

This is a real problem for recruiters. Up to 16 million adults – that’s nearly half the workforce – have the reading and writing skills expected of a child leaving primary school.

Add onto this the 4.2 million people that speak English as a second language, the 1 in 10 people with dyslexia and the 1.5 million with ADHD, and you’re instantly making your role inaccessible to 20-40% of the entire UK population.

“But I’m hiring rocket scientists” I hear you say. “I’m looking for people who have high literacy skills”

A 2012 study by Christopher Trudeau found that as education levels increase, so does the preference for plain language. And the impact of this is significant. Research by renowned UX consultancy Nielson Norman Group showed that reducing the reading age of text on a website can increase conversion rates by 37% for most users - 78% for lower literacy users.

How can you make a job ad more readable?

There are many factors that affect readability. Here are some of the steps you can take to lower your reading age and improve the quality of applications from your recruitment campaign:

Reduce sentence and word length

The Plain English Campaign suggests an average sentence length of 15 to 20 words. Stick to one idea per sentence and prefer shorter words wherever possible.

Vary your sentence length to give rhythm and pace to your text

Be punchy. Try mixing longer sentences with shorter ones to give your writing rhythm and keep your readers interested.

Write in an active voice – it’s clearer and more direct

You can work out whether a sentence is active or passive by identifying who or what is doing the action. A passive sentence won’t state who is doing the action or will put them at the end of the sentence. Here’s an example:

PASSIVE: The performance of the team will be monitored PASSIVE: The performance of the team will be monitored by you ACTIVE: You will monitor the performance of the team

Use ‘you’ rather than ‘the candidate’ and ‘we’ to refer to your company

Your job advert should always focus more on the jobseeker than on your company. Addressing candidates directly will help them identify with and imagine the role.

Use everyday English as much as possible

Take a step back and write exactly what you mean. You’re not looking for an ideas engineer, you’re looking for a designer; blue-sky thinking is thinking creatively; and buy-in is support or backing.

Don’t worry too much about being grammatically correct

Forget what you learned at school. Split those infinitives. Start sentences with conjunctions, like and, but and however. And don’t worry about ending a sentence with a preposition – it’s often clearer.

Do you consider readability when writing your recruitment ads? If you'd like to see how your ads compare, then get in touch for your free readability assessment and report.

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How to write inclusive job adverts

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It’s well known that diverse teams produce better outcomes – increased productivity, more innovation, better financial returns. But building a diverse team doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a result of inclusive practices and values at every stage of an employee’s lifecycle, starting from the moment they consider you as a potential employer.

An inclusive workforce begins with the words you use in your job adverts. Far too often, job adverts form the first barrier to hire for many people. Whether it’s complicated words, confusing jargon or unconscious gender bias, our language choices stop perfectly qualified candidates from applying.

But what exactly does an inclusive job advert look like? You’ll probably have seen lots of articles about gender bias in job adverts – and that’s a key part of it – but it’s important to remember that inclusivity extends beyond gender.

Research from Acas found that 1 in 7 people in the UK have neurodiverse conditions. Neurodiversity is a word used to describe a range of conditions, like ADHD, Autism and Dyslexia. It was penned by sociologist Judy Singer in the late 90s to challenge views of neurological diversity as ‘defects, disorders or impairments’ and recognise neurological differences as on a par with gender or ethnicity.

So when we talk about inclusivity in job ads, we’re really talking about writing in a way that is accessible and readable for as many people as possible.

Reviewing your adverts: a 3-step process

The question is, how do you know if you’re writing inclusively?

Writing non-biased job adverts can be easier said than done. Bias is often unconscious, making it notoriously difficult to spot. It’s especially tough if you’re recycling old adverts or using outdated corporate comms templates, which tend to inherit all sorts of unwelcome bias and non-inclusive language as they do the rounds.

That’s why we built our Pre-Launch Checklist. It’s a simple way for In House Recruiters and Hiring Managers to review their job adverts and templates for inclusivity (and it’s free to download here).

The Checklist is broken down into 3 edits:

Edit 1 Getting the basics right

Edit 2 Writing for everyone

Edit 3 Adding style and personality

It’s 3 edits for a reason. When you proofread a document, it’s impossible to remember all the things you’re checking for and the decisions that you’re making. Breaking your review process into 3 steps helps you to more effectively spot non-inclusive language and other errors.

Each Edit focuses on a different aspect of your job advert and is grouped into key themes of gender, readability and tone, with specific advice for your job title and equal opportunities statements.

Job titles

A good job title is straightforward, concise, searchable and inclusive. And when it comes to job titles, there are a few hard and fast rules to follow to help you achieve this.

Keep job titles short. 1 to 3-word job titles consistently perform best, whilst jobs with titles containing symbols (like brackets, currency or exclamation marks) see a 30% decrease in application rates.

Importantly, and I can’t stress this enough, you should be writing job titles that jobseekers understand. Sounds simple, right? But how many times have you seen internal language and business jargon in job titles?

Candidate’s won’t understand what a ‘Level 4 Marketing Manager’ means. Nor will they understand what’s expected of a ‘Marketing Ninja’ or ‘Sales Guru’. Terms like this are ambiguous and unhelpful, but figures of speech and idioms are particularly hard for people on the autistic spectrum to understand. Think ‘designer’ not ‘ideas engineer’.

Gender bias in job adverts

70% of adverts we analysed contained some level of masculine bias. This ranges from obvious clangers, like ‘Chairman’ and ‘manpower’ to more subtle, coded language, like ‘assertive’ and ‘competitive’.

Now, this is not to say that women can’t be assertive or competitive. Instead, this language reflects unconscious biases and stereotypes that our society has long held about gender and the workplace. Logically, we know these stereotypes are nonsense. But subconsciously, they affect our behaviours – like how we communicate and whether we feel like we belong.

The impact of biased language on job applications was studied in 2011 by Gaucher, Friesen and Kay. They found that gendered language in job ads exists and contributes to gender inequality.

In a nutshell, the research showed that women were less likely to apply for jobs that contained masculine bias because they perceived that they wouldn’t belong in that company. Men, on the other hand, weren’t put off by feminine biased language. They were equally likely to feel they would fit in and equally likely to apply.

For best results in your job advertising and using the Pre-Launch checklist to guide you, remove all examples of masculine bias and, for best results, increase the feminine coded language.

Readability in job adverts

We recently analysed 8,500 job adverts and found that 1 in 8 job adverts is more difficult to read than Darwin’s “Origin of Species”. Let’s just think about that for a second. Our job adverts are wordier and more complicated than a 500 page, 19th century book on evolutionary biology…

And it gets worse. 60% of the UK workforce has the reading skills expected of a child leaving primary school, but we write job adverts that you literally need a degree to understand.

The impact of such complicated language is even more significant for people with neurodiverse conditions. Large blocks of text are hard for everyone to read – particularly people with autism and dyslexia.

There’s a misconception that long sentences and fancy terminology make you sound professional – frankly, that’s a myth. All it does is stop people reading and understanding your ad.

As you work through the Pre-Launch Checklist, focus on making your advert easy for people to skim read. Keep paragraphs short, use headings and bullet points appropriately and keep your language simple.

Tone and personality in job adverts

When it comes to your brand’s personality, research from LinkedIn states that if the tone of your job post doesn’t match your culture, applicants are 2 – 4 times less likely to apply.

Make sure jobseekers can see themselves in the role. Can they identify with the mission, vision and ethos of your company? Can they visualise their future with you? Is your tone and style consistent with your brand’s personality?

How to get started

Start by reviewing the job advert template that gets reused all the time. You know the one I mean… that pdf or word document lurking in the HR files that gets dredged out every time there’s a new rec.

Review this template against the Pre-Launch Checklist and circulate the updated version with your team and Hiring Managers. Your changes will trickle down through the company, making this a simple way to start making an impact.

However you get started, the important thing is that you start. Be conscious of your language choices and the impact they have; focus on belonging and teamwork when you write your adverts; and show an environment where everyone would want to work.

Keeping inclusion and belonging front-of-mind as you write your job ads will help you shape language that’s appealing and accessible to a diverse group of people. Then, use the Pre-Launch Checklist to proofread your advert. Follow these steps, and you’ll be writing inclusive job adverts every time.

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Writing a good job advert: 4 things to avoid at all costs

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Writing a good job advert: 4 things to avoid at all costs

Writing a great job advert is no easy task. Job adverts are often littered with overused, ill-considered words and phrases, from confusing business jargon to language that enforces gender stereotypes. These words can often hinder applications as candidates can feel discouraged if they don't understand what the role requires or feel alienated by the language used. With that in mind, here's a rundown of what to avoid when writing a job advert.

Business jargon

Team synergy! Blue-sky thinking! Disruptive! Business terms like these might be popular but are often unnecessarily complicated ways to explain straightforward concepts. So, take a step back and write exactly what you mean: you’re not looking for someone to facilitate team synergy, you’re looking for someone to make your team more efficient; blue-sky thinking is thinking creatively; and being disruptive simply means being innovative.

Avoid overly vague, general words and phrases that make it hard for candidates to get an accurate sense of what you’re asking for. Most job seekers could reasonably describe themselves as a ‘self-starter’ – so why not say you’re looking for someone who is happy to work independently, or is comfortable showing initiative?

‘Excellent interpersonal and communication skills’ is another wishy washy, broad term that makes it hard for a candidate to give relevant examples. List specific requirements as such as public speaking or delivering presentations.

Want a candidate who will ‘think outside the box’? Then avoid tired, overused phrases like this! Be direct and say you’re looking for someone who thinks creatively. The same goes for a ‘can-do attitude’: who will admit otherwise in a job interview? Instead, say that you're looking for people who will actively seek new responsibilities.

Gender-coded terms

If asked, most employers and recruiters would say that they want to be as inclusive as possible in their job ads. Our society, however, has certain ideas of how men and women behave, and this is reflected in the language that we use (often without realising). This can make some job listings seem less appealing to people, especially woman.

Let’s start with the obvious. Are you looking for a salesman or a saleswoman? The answer is neither. All job titles should be strictly gender neutral to avoid putting off candidates (who may assume you're looking only for men or women if you use a gendered job title). Use purely descriptive titles – such as project manager, developer or account executive.

Avoid titles or terms more commonly associated with men, such as ‘rock star’, ‘guru’ and ‘ninja’: Not only are these terms overused but they can discourage female candidates from applying. Use more neutral, inclusive words – visionary rather than guru, skilled rather than ninja.

Many attributes are gender coded – such as ‘decisive’ and ‘driven', which are often seen as masculine traits. Use words such as ‘purposeful’ instead. Instead of ‘analyse’ and ‘determine’ opt for words such as ‘examine’ and 'establish’.

Internal terminology

If you describe a job as a ‘level 6 role’ or the company database as ‘The Knowledge Tree' in a job advert, how will anyone outside your business know what this means? Filling a job advert with internal terminology will baffle applicants and make the role seem less appealing.

The same applies for job titles. Overly complicated, technical job titles specific to your company won’t be searched for by potential candidates. And if they do come across the advert, they’re less likely to apply as they may not understand what the job title means. Simplicity is key: think ‘bin man’ rather than ‘waste management and disposal technician’.


Do you know your ATL from your SLA or your KPI? Your OTE from your PA? Job adverts often contain many acronyms but it’s wise to limit how many you include. As with business jargon, acronyms you may be familiar with in the office may not translate to the outside world. This is especially important when recruiting younger candidates or graduates, who as newcomers to the job market may not understand certain acronyms, making them hesitant about applying for roles. When in doubt, make it easy for candidates and explain everything in literal, accessible terms.

Avoid these four things and you’re well on your way to writing a great job advert.

The next big trends in recruitment marketing

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How we recruit is changing. In a candidate-led market, attracting and hiring the right person with the right skills is harder than ever. Over the past few years, as competition for talent has increased along with the prevalence of hard-to-fill vacancies, recruitment marketing has become the go-to strategy for proactive recruiters. 2019 will bring a wave of fresh recruitment marketing trends and technologies that will shape and improve your recruitment process. The list below can help you to stay competitive in today’s difficult recruitment market.

Recruitment marketing trend 1: Nurture campaigns

Lead nurturing, or candidate nurturing, is the process of building lasting relationships with potential candidates. It’s about focussing on the needs of the candidate and providing relevant, valuable information at each stage of your candidate journey.

Email is often the ideal format for nurture, or drip, campaigns, but essentially what you’re doing when you build your campaign is designing a workflow for each stage of your candidate journey. Ask yourself “how do I get this candidate to the next milestone?” This will include email, but you can also trigger text messages or reminders to hiring managers to give the candidate a call.

Getting started with email nurture can seem daunting. It’s not something you can do manually (seriously, please don’t try, it will consume your entire life) and bespoke recruitment marketing systems can be an expensive commitment.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Lead nurturing has been an important part of commercial marketing since search engines changed the way we buy products, so there are lots of free or cheap options that you can use. Mailchimp, for example, has some basic email automation capabilities that are free, whilst Drip offers powerful automation for $49 per month.

These systems are a great way to get started with candidate nurture campaigns without spending a fortune. And the great thing is, they come with pretty comprehensive reporting, so you’ll be able to demonstrate the impact of your hard work and secure ongoing support (read: budget) from department heads.

Recruitment marketing trend 2: Employer brand

With each year comes another round of buzzwords. It’s safe to say, employer brand is more than a buzzword and its role in your recruitment marketing strategy is significant. Without a consistent, authentic and engaging employer brand, your nurture campaigns, social recruitment and digital advertising are likely to fall flat.

Your employer brand is about identifying what makes you a great place to work. What makes you competitive? What’s different about your organisation? What do you offer your employees and what do you expect in return? And it’s about more than photos of bearded men playing ping pong. As William Tincup puts it, your employer brand is “your unique scent. It’s everything that makes you stand out.”

Defining your employer brand starts with knowing what recruitment goals you are looking to achieve and understanding your candidate personas. We have a great template to help you do this, if your personas could do with a bit of a refresh. Once you’ve done this, focus your attention on defining your employee value proposition (EVP) – what do your current employees love about working at your company? Why did they choose to work with you in the first place? Once you understand all of these things, you can communicate with your target candidates in ways that inspire and engage.

I’d always recommend involving a third party in the development of your employer brand: someone that can have a high-level view of the goals and where the project is heading. There are some fantastic agencies out there that specialise in employer branding, so if time is a concern then outsourcing this could be the right option for you. But it can work just as well by involving your marketing team. They’ll be used to developing brand propositions and personas and will provide the perfect combination of marketing expertise and business acumen.

Recruitment marketing trend 3: Creative job adverts

Repeat after me: “a job description is not the same as a job advert”. One of the biggest developments in recruitment marketing this year has been the development of advanced, content-rich job adverts. Google for Jobs has changed the way people search for vacancies, but we’re also seeing revolutionary changes to the type of ads organisations are posting.

Since the old days of newspaper ads, job adverts have remained largely text-based. They’re often long, dense pieces of copy that tend to form more of a list of requirements than an advert. Well, not any more. The focus on employer brand means that job ad design is being thought of as part of an employer brand story. It’s just as important to tell your story in job adverts as it is across other channels.

This could be as simple as ensuring that your job advert is well written and optimised for conversions, but to get the best results you want to think about other ways of telling your story. Video content, photography and employee testimonials will help people visualise their futures at your company and thanks to new technologies like nthuse, you can now build stunning, sophisticated adverts easily.

Recruitment marketing trend 4: Inbound recruiting, content and SEO

Inbound recruiting is a strategic recruitment marketing trend that focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined target audience. By taking an inbound approach, you can connect with, engage and delight both passive and active jobseekers throughout their jobseeker journey.

Inbound recruiting is particularly important in a candidate-driven market. Employers no longer have control over the hiring process; instead, candidates are calling the shots. Just like consumers, candidates do their research upfront, visiting multiple online sources before applying for a role, and more often than not this research starts on Google. Having an inbound recruitment strategy is key to competing for talent in this tough candidate market.

The cornerstone of a successful inbound recruiting strategy is great, search-engine optimised content. You should be creating content that is valuable for your target candidates and gives an authentic view inside your organisation. It’s important to post regularly and consistently, and to create content that will appeal to your candidate persona.

The internet is literally swimming with articles about how to optimise content for Google: check out Hubspot’s guide to SEO optimisation as a good starting point. The most important thing, however, is to write helpful articles that your candidates will want to read.

These four recruitment marketing trends mark a seismic shift in the way we hire. As recruiters and employers, we need to be smarter with our approach to recruitment, make the most of the new tools available and focus on engaging with candidates in thoughtful, relevant ways from the very start of their journey.

Job advert design in 3 steps

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Engaging job ad design can help you stand out from the crowd

Your job ad design can directly influence the number of applications you get for a role and the quality of those applications, which in turn impacts the overall success of your recruitment campaign. But designing an engaging job ad is a tricky mix of art and science, so how can you make sure your advert stands out from the competition and attracts the candidates that fit?

Your job advert’s design is part of your employer brand story. Telling your story in a consistent, clear and compelling way across all of your digital channels, including your job ads, will help potential jobseekers engage with your company and make positive, informed decisions. It will help them to visualise how their future could look at your organisation, giving you candidates that are the right fit: better prepared and highly engaged.

In today’s digital jobseeker journey, candidates expect to be able to find useful, relevant and accurate information about what it’s like to work for your company. But despite this, according to a recent LinkedIn survey, the number one obstacle candidates experience when searching for a job is not knowing what it’s like to work at an organisation.

By following our four simple steps for inspiring job advert design, you can showcase your company’s culture, values and employer brand right where jobseekers are looking: on job boards, across social media and on your own careers page.

Step One: Establish a hierarchy of information

Good job advert designs starts with a clear hierarchy of information. Once you understand what your key message is, you can start to build a job advert that emphasises this message in style, content and structure.

But how do you work out what your key message should be? The key here is to find a message that will resonate with your ideal candidate. What’s important to them in their next role? You can use your jobseeker personas to help you identify that key message, as well as speaking to people already in the role – particularly people that have started in the role recently. What attracted them to the job? What do they love about it now they’re settled into the role?

Take all of these differentiating factors and prioritise them according to how important they are to your ideal jobseeker. Now, you have a structure and focus for your job ad design.

Step Two: Brush up on your design basics

With systems like nthuse, you don’t have to be a designer to create engaging job ad designs. You just need a good understanding of your brand guidelines and a few job advert design tips up your sleeve. We're going to look at four of the most important in more detail: type, colour, imagery and space.


Type, or font, obviously plays a key role in any job ad design. How your text is displayed will make it easier or harder for jobseekers to read and understand – remember that jobseekers will be skim reading your job advert, so you want to make it as easy as possible to do this.

First, dust off those brand guidelines and make sure you have the correct fonts for your brand. Brand consistency is extremely important. Your poor marketing team will have sweated over every detail in your guidelines, and it’s for good reason. Your typography is part of how you communicate, and your fonts will have been chosen for clarity as well as style – different fonts have different connotations.

Type should usually be left aligned as this makes it easier to read and for the eye to follow, although there will be times when centred text would work better: a large heading or a logo, for example. Avoid centred text for paragraphs – this makes the starting point of each line change, making it more difficult for the eye to read and more challenging for the jobseeker. Similarly, justified text changes the size of the space between words in a paragraph, making your text harder to read.

Avoid using caps lock to give emphasis. It just feels like you’re shouting. Instead, use different font weights to create impact. Use a thicker, bolder weight for your headings and combine this with a larger font size to show the hierarchy of your messaging.

Keep your font size and weights consistent throughout your job advert, with a set format for headings, sub headings and body copy. This will make your job ad design look considered and professional.


Back to those brand guidelines! Your brand colours have been chosen because they communicate your brand’s personality and values, so make sure you use them as intended. For example, blocks of colour tend to work well for call-to-actions or buttons, but not so well for paragraphs of text. Make sure you use the correct colours for the right sections.

If you are using text over a coloured background, then you need to consider the level of contrast between your text colour and the background colour.


Imagery is key to engaging job ad design. Your images should be:

  • High quality - this means not pixelated, blurry or stretched, and a decent size for the space its occupying.
  • Authentic - be true to your brand and your company.
  • Relevant - show the jobseeker what they can expect from the role and environment.

The relationship between your text and image is also very important. If you’re planning to use text over an image, you’ll need to ensure that:

  • You’re not obscuring or blocking the focal point of the image by slapping text over it
  • The text is easily legible and not placed on a busy background

There are two easy ways to ensure that your text is easily legible over an image:

  1. Place your text in a coloured box, bearing in mind the position of this box over the image
  2. Apply a semi-transparent overlay to the image, usually in a dark colour like black or grey


Space is something that is so often overlooked in design but you should really be trying to see it as an element in itself. Space in your design will guide the eye to the key messaging and help create a fluid design by surrounding words with white space to let elements breathe.

The application of space around text boxes, images and other graphic elements makes a job advert design easier to read. It’s also more likely to attract attention than a cluttered composition. All of this helps to draw the jobseeker’s eye to the relevant information and ensure the reader isn’t overwhelmed by information.

Step Three: Make the most of new technology

Job searching is changing. People don’t just visit one place, find a job and apply any more: they research roles, companies and online reviews just like any other consumer. This means that, in order to attract high-quality candidates, your job advert needs to reach further and use more digital channels than ever before.

This also means that your options for designing your job advert are increasing. New software like nthuse lets you build enhanced, employer branded job ads without the need of a designer or developer, so you can create engaging job ad designs quickly and easily.

It also lets you publish your advert straight to the UK’s top job boards and aggregators. Recent research from LinkedIn shows that the top two channels people use to look for new jobs are job boards (60%) and social professional networks (56%), so your job advert needs to be accessible across these channels in order to get the best results.

Mobile use is also increasing significantly: 45% of job seekers search for jobs daily on their mobile device and 89% think mobile devices play a critical role in the job hunting process. If your job ad doesn’t work perfectly on mobile, then you’re missing a trick. Job advert design tools, like nthuse, should let you optimise the jobseeker’s experience to guarantee an engaging job ad design on any device.

So there you have it: four simple steps to engaging job advert design. Follow these steps and you’ll be creating inspiring, compelling job ads that attract the right candidates for your role. In testing, content-rich, enhanced job advert designs generated a 50% higher conversion rate or APV than a standard job advert, showing just how impactful a great design can be.

9 tips for writing effective job adverts

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These 9 tips will teach you how to write an effective job advert

Clients often ask us how they can get more applications for their job adverts or how they can improve the conversion or application rate for an underperforming vacancy. The truth is that there’s rarely one reason why a job advert’s failing to deliver the anticipated results: maybe it’s advertised on the wrong job board or competition in that area is particularly high. In today’s candidate-driven market, it’s easy to assume that a lack of applications is down to current market conditions.

But that’s not always the case. Sometimes, it can be as simple as a job description. Recruitment marketing has come a long way from the days of classified ads – I mean, Google’s involved now. It’s positively high tech. But strip away the advanced search functions and automation, and the bulk of your job advert is text.

The following tips will help you write clear, engaging job adverts that distinguish you from your competition and convert the right candidates from view to application.

Avoid buzzwords or jargon

Think about how people search for jobs online. They won’t be searching for ‘marketing ninja’ or ‘data guru’ – they’ll be looking for ‘marketing executive’ or ‘data analyst’. Gimmicky job titles don’t make you look cool, all they do is stop great candidates from finding your role. Internal jargon is also off putting. No one will understand what a ‘Level 6 Manager’ is in your company, but they will understand ‘Senior Marketing Manager’. Keep your language clear and understandable.

Research your keywords

Indeed’s Job Category Trends tool can give you a useful overview of top search terms, job titles and competitiveness across industries. Like all other search engines, job boards and aggregators look to your job title and your job description in order to show the most relevant results for a job seeker’s search. Make sure your keywords are used throughout your job description but try to avoid keyword stuffing! Humans need to be able to make sense of the advert, after all.

Be realistic

Does your Business Development Manager really need that degree? Do you have to have a minimum of 7 years’ experience in order to manage a team? When you're writing your job description, make sure that the skills you list as ‘required’ are the things that you absolutely cannot do the role without. Otherwise, you’re just stopping perfectly qualified candidates from applying.

Always provide a salary range

‘Competitive’ can mean different things to different people. Avoid ambiguity and make sure you specify an accurate salary range in your job description. Not only will this help people self-select, it will ensure that you’re only interviewing applicants that you can afford to hire and will reduce negotiating time at the offer stage.

Help candidates visualise the role

Include a ‘day in the life’ section in your job description where you explain what an average day would look like for this role. Think about the tasks, meetings, reports and projects your new employee will be working on and showcase these in a clear, digestible format. This will help candidates visualise how the role could fit their own aspirations and career goals.

Include benefits and meaningful perks

What makes your company stand out from all the others? Do you have a fantastic health care scheme, amazing work socials or great support for new parents? Perks and benefits don’t have to be monetary – you might have an amazing team structure that encourages collaboration or clear development plans to help people progress. Sell what makes you, you.

Avoid unconscious bias

A tricky one, given that it’s unconscious, but there are steps you can take to ensure that you’re not accidentally creating a bias through your language. For example, asking for someone with ten years’ experience automatically excludes younger applicants that could be perfect for the role. Recruiting for a ‘salesman’ implies a gender bias. Without realising it, we all use language every day that is gender-coded (how many men have you called ‘bossy’ recently?) and this language makes its way into our job adverts. There’s software available that can help you to de-code your job descriptions though – try the Gender Decoder for a simple, free overview.

Be positive

Focus on what you’re looking for, rather than what you don’t want. For example, rather than saying ‘Candidates with fewer than three years’ experience managing a team won’t be considered’, try saying ‘Proven experience managing a team is important for this senior role’.

Use ‘you’ and ‘we’

You’re a person and you’re looking to hire another person, so speak like a human. Rather than saying ‘the ideal candidate will be experienced using Photoshop’, say ‘you’ll have experience using Photoshop’. Rather than ‘the organisation’ or ‘the company’, say ‘we’. This makes your job description more direct, more engaging and more personal.

Use an active voice

Some more grammar for you. Formal, corporate language is riddled with passive sentences – it’s perfect for making you sound like an objective third party, but when you’re trying to get someone to apply for a job, that’s the last thing you want.Be direct and make responsibilities and roles clear.

Writing a great job advert isn’t an exact science. It’s a mix of keyword research, good copywriting and realistic expectations. You need to balance communicating your company’s tone of voice and personality with providing candidates with clear, understandable information, as well as making sure your job is searchable in job boards and aggregators. Follow the tips in this article to write your job advert and you’ll be swamped with amazing candidates before you know it.

The 5 Most Creative Job Postings of 2018

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Creative job postings are a major trend this year

Job adverts are becoming much more creative and engaging as the competition for candidates remains high. This is driven by many factors, like having an aging population; a bigger focus on matching a company’s culture and values with talent; and sustained high employment. All of this increases the prevalence of hard-to-fill vacancies and means that employers are finding more and more creative ways to post their job ads.

Over the past year, we’ve seen much more innovative and engaging job postings come to light. Not only are employers investing in their employer brand, they’re making the most of new technologies to maximise results across their channels – and to explore new ways of reaching potential jobseekers.

Department, role and location-specific content, employee-generated content and remarketing campaigns are just some of the innovative new features we’re seeing in job postings. Here are the 5 most creative job postings of 2018 that take advantage of some of these engaging new features.

My Dentist – innovative employer brand

Impressive growth meant plenty of hiring for MyDentist, and dental professionals are in short supply and high-demand. Their employer brand showcases their commitment to providing a supported and structured career path through learning, development and clinical support.

My Dentist have made the most of their new brand assets in their creative job posting. They’ve used nthuse’s flexible job advertisement platform to showcase their engaging, rich content across their job board advertising, making sure that potential jobseekers have a consistent employer brand experience wherever and whenever they engage with the MyDentist brand.

Screenshot of MyDentist creative job advert

Five Guys – bespoke video content

Five Guys launched in the UK back in 2013, the same week as their US rivals Shake Shack also opened their UK presence. Since then, Five Guys have been expanding at a rate of knots, with over 1500 branches across the globe. With expansion comes recruitment, and Five Guys are ahead of the curve when it comes to bespoke video content.

Each job ad has a video that’s specific to the role and to the location. Their General Manager video follows two managers in their jobs, showing exactly what it takes to be a General Manager and how rewarding it can be. This authentic, engaging and creative job posting approach makes it easy for potential candidates to imagine their future career at Five Guys.

Screenshot of Five Guys creative job advert

Yell – employee-generated video

Continuing with the video theme, Yell have made the most of their employee engagement with their employee-generated video that takes pride of place on their Glassdoor profile. It’s a simple, impactful idea: ask current employees what makes Yell great and video the answers. The result? A clear, authentic and trustworthy video that adds heaps of credibility to Yell’s job postings.

Screenshot of Yell video creative job advert

Haymarket – culture first

We worked closely with Haymarket on the design of their advert for a developer to join their automotive team. The resulting job advert uses a variety of rich content to showcase the Haymarket culture and values.

Haymarket are rightly proud of their collaborative culture and learning opportunities, so they wanted a creative job posting that lead with their culture, rather than the job description. Developers are in high demand, so taking a fresh approach to their job advert helps their role to stand out from the competition.

Screenshot of Haymarket creative job advert

Red Bull – structured design

Despite lots of innovation around content and recruitment marketing channels, the actual structure of a job description in a job advert is still very formulaic. They’re long, wordy and far too often packed with an unrealistic set of “requirements”. Red Bull have changed that. Their job postings are broken down into clear, manageable sections, using different formats, font styles and section colours to help jobseekers navigate the ad and skim read effectively.

Screenshot of Red Bull creative job advert

What do you think of these trends? As we continue into 2020, we're expecting to see more bespoke content being used in innovative ways across job advertising. With the competition for top candidates predicted to remain high, employers will continue to explore more and more creative ways of posting their job adverts.