How to humanise your job advert copy

Job adverts are hard to get right but your talent attraction depends on it. Word length, structure, keywords – are all important, but so is humanising your copy. Remembering that you are writing for people to read and respond to will transform your job ad copy from dry job description to compelling job ad. 

What is the end game with a job ad? You want it to stand out on job boards and be found by search engines but that is just the first step.

Ultimately, you want qualified candidates to read it, engage with it and feel compelled to apply for the job. With that in mind, it is imperative to remember that your job ads should be written for people and not solely for search engines. Dry, boring, lengthy job ads dissuade candidates from reading, let alone applying for them – not what you want at any time, let alone in a candidate-short market. That’s why you need to humanise your job copy.

What does humanising job ad copy mean?

In essence, humanising ad copy simply means writing for humans. It is writing an ad with the aim of connecting with someone, of evoking a response or an emotion. It also allows candidates to see your humanity, rather than a faceless, emotionless piece of copy that could have been generated by a computer. Ultimately you are writing on behalf of humans, for humans. Never forget that recruitment is, at its heart, all about people. 

Why should I humanise my job ad copy?

If candidates don’t connect with the job ad, or if they are faced with wading through a mountain of jargon and bullet points just to try and understand what the job entails, they will move on. You could literally be discouraging talent through your job ad – the opposite of what you want to achieve, especially in such a tough market where qualified candidates are short in supply.

WaveTrackR data may be recording rising applications towards the latter end of 2021 but jobs are still very high, creating a continued gap between the number of vacant jobs and the candidates available in the market. In such a landscape, you need to be doing everything you can to attract talent to your jobs.

  1. Don’t post the job description

    A job description is not a job ad. In order to appeal to qualified candidates, you need to focus on creating an advert that sells the job to them, just like any consumer ad.

    Take one look at a lengthy piece of copy with dozens of bullet points and tasks and most will be deterred. Think about what is really needed in the ad and what can be kept back until further down the line. Not every single specification will be needed at the initial ad stage.

    The following elements are crucial to a great job ad. Detailed skills and tasks are not needed at this stage of the process:

    A searchable job title
    Salary (for compelling reasons to include salary on your job ads take a look at ‘Why job ads should include salary indicators’)
    Introduction to the role and the company
    Key responsibilities
    Experience and/or qualification requirements (the key is in the last word, only include what is absolutely required)  

  2. Create a candidate persona

    In order to connect with the candidates you want to attract, you need to work out who they are and what motivates them.

    The best way to do that is to create a candidate persona. Similar to a buyer persona, this will allow you to identify and target the candidates you are trying to reach. Just as you should be targeting your job board advertising, you should also be targeting your candidates – in fact, the two are interconnected.

    What are your candidate’s career goals and soft skills? What do they look for in a work environment? Where do they search for jobs? However, candidate personas need to be flexible. They should not be a rigid description of your ‘ideal’ candidate. Do that and you could be narrowing your search and blinding yourself to a wide range of diverse candidates. What a candidate persona will do is help you write a job ad with humans in mind.

  3. Inject personality

    Candidates want to be able to envisage what it will be like working at and for a company before they decide to apply. This is where having a solid Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is essential as everything will be drawn from this.

    An EVP will enable you to write with an employer brand voice that is distinct to the company, as well as communicating company culture and values.

    Career changes can be a monumental period in a person’s life. We know this but it’s easy to forget it when you work in recruitment and facilitate job moves every day. By allowing candidates a glimpse into day to day life as an employee at the company you are recruiting for, you enable them to connect to the company and to the role in a more meaningful way. You
    humanise the job and the job ad through the copy.  

  4. Write in the second-person narrative

    This is closely connected to injecting personality into the copy. The ad should speak to candidates and those candidates should feel like they are being spoken to by a person and not a computer.

    Remove the corporate, nameless barrier by avoiding ‘Company X is looking for’ and instead write your ad in the second-person (the first-person being a little too personal and teetering into the unprofessional), i.e. ‘our, we, you”. ‘We are looking for… You will be’. You are writing a job ad from people, to people and it’s important for that to be represented.

    Job ads sell. Indeed, it is their very purpose. Job descriptions do not sell.

    Cutting and pasting the job description will not help you to find a plethora of enthusiastic, qualified candidates. Use your job ad to its full potential by not only utilising it as a screening tool but as a way to attract talent to your jobs, as a vital part of your recruitment marketing strategy.

    You want to enthuse and excite candidates, to compel them to apply for the job not just because it ticks a few boxes but because it rouses something in them. Those are the candidates that you want applying for your jobs. Candidates that are passionate about a job already have a head-start.

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