5 lessons tonight’s dinner menu will teach you about job advertising

March 1, 2016, 8:15 am

In our latest guest blog, Siofra Pratt of Social Talent shares her 5 top tips on writing great job ad content, and how whetting the appetite of potential hires is the best way to do so.

As a recruiter, your goal when it comes to posting your job ads for innovation and NPD related roles with FDIN Jobs should be to get as many qualified candidates as possible to respond to your ad and apply for the job. The problem is, generally speaking in the world of online advertising is that less than 10% of all the people who end up reading a job ad really engage with it. Yep, that means that a whopping 90% of people who view a job ad in its entirety, are passing it by unconvinced that this might be the job for them.

So the question is – how do we effectively engage that 90%?

When looking for inspiration on how to word job advertisements, many recruiters (you may even be guilty yourself) will look to what their contemporaries are producing, when in fact, what they should be doing is looking at potential candidates as if they were restaurant diners.

“HUH?!” Yes, I know it may sound a little strange, but while potential candidates might not be consumers of food in this instance, they are consumers of information and like restaurant diners, if they’re not impressed by what they see on one menu, they can choose to select from another at a different restaurant. They can and will choose to respond to someone else’s job ad over yours, if yours isn’t up to par. It’s as simple as that.

So, the same as a menu has to convince a passerby that they want to eat in this restaurant, your job ad has to persuade a potential candidate that they want to apply for your job.

For example, I present to you two sets of menus. Both menu offerings are exactly the same, as are the prices being charged for each dish. But which restaurant would you prefer to be dining in tonight?


I’m guessing Menu Two…

So, how can you do as to the restaurateurs do? Here are our 5 top tips:

  1. Ask yourself, “How would I sell it verbally”?

We are at our best when we get to sell personally – so selling in a personable manner is key. Write your job description as you would sell in-person to a candidate. Entice them with your words as Menu Two does above. Why would you put down that soup is just “vegetable soup” when, in person, you’d make a point of telling someone it was a “wholesome carrot and parsnip soup“, and that you grew those ingredients yourself? You wouldn’t, so don’t do so in your job advertisements!

When we sell verbally, we use stories to illustrate our point. We paint pictures with our words. As a result, stories act as mental flight simulators. By telling a story, we are able to put somebody into the shoes of that role and help them experience life in your company and give them an insight feel like they’re part of your organisation.

So, if you can, cut the corporate speak and start weaving a tale. For example, when Social Talent went looking for a recruiter to join our team last year, instead of telling the candidate “you will be responsible for the identification and hire of 15 new staff”, we told them:

“We started last year with 6 people. Stephen and Reza joined us as interns after responding to a YouTube video; no salary, just the will to grow and learn. Lisa trained as a Black Belt 3 years ago in her old job. She called us asking if we were hiring and we snapped her up. Since then we’ve hired Johnny’s brother Graham and his referral Sarah. This year, your job will be to scale this to 15 more people. You’ve got your work cut out :)”

It gives the candidate a much better idea of what’s expected of them and how the skills they bring could contribute to your company going forward.

  1. Write it down in layman’s language, and be passionate!

Be explicit about why your ideal candidate should move from their current role to yours. And don’t change the type of language you would use in person. There’s no need for jargon, just straight forward language with a passion behind it.

For example, while Menu One tells you what you’re going receive, it doesn’t make you yearn for the food like Menu Two does. Menu Two goes into detail about the fact that the vegetables are fresh from the garden, implying that care and effort went into their preparation. We’re told the cod is Atlantic cod and the batter is a light beer batter, not just any old stodgy batter. We’re also told that our chips are hand cut and will be brought to us in a pale (sic) , and that the mushy peas aren’t just plain old mushy peas. Use that kind of story telling detail in your job advertisements. 

  1. You, Your, Yours

Be sure to make your job ads candidate-centric. When a restaurant customer picks up a menu, all they’re really concerned about is how they will enjoy the food. Similarly, readers of your job ads only really care about benefits they receive by virtue of responding. Therefore, when you write job ads, focus on employee benefits, not solely employer demands. A 2015 study from the University of Vermont revealed job ads focusing on employee benefits outperformed ads focusing on employer demands by a ratio of 3-to-1. The best way to do this is by employing, what we like to call, the “You, Your, Yours” principal. Take this typical job ad sentence for example:

“As a core member of the project management team, you will be expected to work autonomously and deliver on project phases on time and on budget. We will help you achieve your goals by continuous professional development, and regular career progression session.”

In it, we have made the candidate the focus of the advert. Instead of saying “we expect you to work autonomously”, we’ve put the emphasis back on the candidate by saying “you will be expected to work autonomously”. Then once we’ve told the candidate what’s expected of them, we finish off by telling them exactly what they can expect the client to do for them in return.

  1. Write the boring stuff

The details are important, but you don’t need to put them front and centre. Menu One lists the price alongside the meal. Menu Two gives you the price after it’s gotten your mouth watering about what you could soon be enjoying.

Sell your candidates the opportunity first, and reinforce it with the key details later.

  1. Have you told the candidate how to contact you directly?

You’d think this was an obvious step to take, but you’d be amazed at the number of recruiters who forget it! Candidates can apply through the FDIN’s site, but many will be taken off to bespoke applicant tracking systems – notorious for causing a large number of drop offs in applications. You’ve gone to a lot of trouble and bit of expense to engage them – make it easy for them to ask you questions and start a conversation. Your perfect hire might waiting to have a chat with you right now!


Síofra Pratt is a Content Marketing Executive with Social Talent, the world’s favourite recruitment training provider. The aim of Social Talent is to make the recruitment industry better by sharing knowledge of internet recruitment technologies and teaching recruiters how to become “Sourcing Ninjas” – these are recruiters who have mastered the art of internet recruitment to find more higher quality candidates, faster than anyone else.


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