How to Write a Job Ad

Julie Shenkman
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Writing a job ad is the first step in finding qualified candidates for an open position. An effective ad helps bring in the best applicants — and perhaps more importantly, it deters submission of unsuitable applications. For human resources professionals, investing the time to write an excellent ad can mean fewer hours spent sifting through unqualified resumes later in the hiring process.

A job ad is a gatekeeper of sorts. In order for the "gate" to function smoothly, the ad must be specific and clear. When you allow vagueness or ambiguity, you open the door for candidates unsuited to the position to slip through. To avoid wasting your time and applicants' time, leave no room for interpretation when it comes to the educational and experiential requirements. Place a list of requirements at the top of the ad, where candidates will see them immediately. If necessary, include a statement such as, "Applications that do not meet these requirements will not be considered." This small statement can be an effective way to filter out people who are applying to every job that sounds even remotely suitable.

The body of the job ad depends on where it is posted. If you are publishing the ad on your company website, it can be long and detailed. In a newspaper or trade publication, you may have less space. Because most human resources professionals post ads in multiple locations, it is helpful to have a short, medium and long version of the ad. Start with the short version, which is often the most difficult to write, and expand from there. The ad should give the position title, list the general duties and explain the level of independence the successful applicant will have. Run your description by the person who last held the position to ensure that it is an accurate representation of the role.

As you are writing the job ad, consider the candidates you want to attract. Do you want a more experienced person to fill the position? If so, consider reinforcing factors that appeal to established professionals, such as retirement benefits, health coverage, family insurance plans or relocation assistance, for example. If you want to outreach to millenials, your ad might emphasize other attributes of the position or employer. According to a recent study, 74 percent of millenial workers are interested in flexible work schedules. To attract workers of this generation, then, you might focus on the way the company encourages work-life balance, a collaborative working environment and flexibility.

At its heart, a job ad is just that — an advertisement. In addition to attracting applicants who are a good fit for the position's requirements, the ad should provide them with the information that is necessary to take the next step. Include contact information to give applicants a way to engage with your company. Give specific directions: you might ask jobseekers to email a resume, visit the full job description page for more information or apply online, for example.

An efficient and descriptive job ad helps the human resources department bring in qualified candidates. When you take the time to create a strong ad, you generate a better pool of candidates and complete the hiring process faster.


Photo courtesy of mrpuen at



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