Top tips to optimise your job ad copy

As a recruiter, your aim is to win jobs, attract top talent and facilitate hires in the most time and budget efficient way possible.

Once you’ve won the job, your first way into reaching quality candidates is your job ad. Get that wrong and not only will it not appeal to the type of candidates you’re targeting, they won’t even see it. Job ad copy optimisation is essential to ensure your job ad is getting in front of the right candidates without the need to screen and reject hundreds of unsuitable applicants. It needs to be worded and structured in a way that doesn’t exclude diverse candidates and it needs to be picked up by search engine and job board algorithms. Head in a spin? We break it down and show you how to optimise your job ad copy to stand out and attract top talent.

With the fallout from Covid-19 filling the talent pool on a daily basis, applications are still close to 100% over the pre-Covid months of the year. Yes, that means more candidates to apply for your jobs but it also means a potential influx of applications from candidates that aren’t right for the job. Optimising your job ads will help to prevent this. By simply knocking together a quick job ad and multi-spamming job boards with it an algorithm is unlikely to pick up its content relevancy so that the type of candidates you’re targeting won’t see it. Instead, the candidates coming through into your pipeline won’t be right for the job you’re advertising – a waste of both your time and your budget. 

Your job ad should act as the first level of screening, ahead of online assessments, ATS’, CRMs and automation tools. If you don’t have influence over the top of your funnel, the rest of the process will become so much harder. Of course, you might find the right candidate without optimising your job ad copy but how many candidates will you have to go through to get to that point? How much time and budget will you have wasted?
So, what do you need to do to optimise your job ad copy? We list six immediately actionable tips to help improve your job ad copy straight away.

Use well-known job titles

Don’t be tempted to go rogue with the job title, this is one area where creativity is not a good idea. Internal jargon, for example, ‘Customer Attention Officer” rather than “Customer Service Advisor’, and/or alternative wording such as ‘Ninja’ or ‘Guru’ won’t be picked up by the algorithms – not to mention it could be excluding entire sections of the workforce (but more on that later). Always think about what candidates might be searching for. If you’re unsure, use Google Trends. This free tool analyses the popularity of search queries and will recommend the most searched for wording for job titles. Standardised job titles are not only more SEO-friendly, but they will also make it immediately clear to the candidate what the role is. 

Your job ad is not an essay

Keep the length to between 700 and 2,000 characters to maintain reader attention. WaveTrackR data has shown that 200-300 words is the optimum length on average, though candidates in different industries respond to different word lengths. Bullet points can be a useful way to make a list clear but never include more than four in a row and don’t exceed eight in total. Just bear in mind that you don’t have to include every detail about the job and the company on the ad. Keep it to the vital details and the rest can be discussed if both parties take it further, plus the candidate can easily Google the company to find out more for themselves.  

Order is important

Order your job ad according to importance for both the candidate and the business. Role first, then remuneration package, responsibilities, must-haves, ending with company mission and vision. The structure is also important – make it easy for candidates to skim read and yet still pull out what they need.   

Ensure mobile optimisation

The majority of people now conduct at least a portion of their job search on mobile so before you post a job always ensure it reads well on a mobile device. Importantly, make sure your first paragraph packs a punch as that is often the only part a candidate will see at first. If they don’t connect with that they will click away.  

Make sure it is inclusive

Diversity and inclusion is a huge reason to optimise your job ads. Whether used consciously or unconsciously, certain words can exclude huge swathes of the workforce –  and no recruiter wants to exclude quality talent from their search. We have written about the huge benefits of diverse teams for businesses and the statistics speak for themselves. In report after report, the data proves that diversity at every level of business generates greater success in terms of innovation, adapting to change and, ultimately, revenue. 

To help ensure that you aren’t putting candidates off from a gender, race or accessibility viewpoint, it is vital to comb through your wording. Remove gendered words and pronouns (e.g. ‘tenacious’ and ‘driven’), as well as gendered job titles (e.g. ‘waitress’ or ‘barman’) and derogatory gender words (e.g. ‘stallion’). Furthermore, you should only include ‘must-haves’ rather than a long list of ‘nice to haves’ and make sure you remove all business jargon.  

Don’t forget a CTA

Always add a call to action at the end of your ad. What do you what the candidate to do next? Click apply? Contact you? Send in their CV? Spell it out and encourage immediate action.

Optimising your job copy will help to increase the number of relevant, quality candidates seeing and clicking on your jobs. It saves time managing an influx of applications that aren’t right for the job and avoids wasting your budget sending out jobs to multiple boards that won’t reach the intended candidates. Just remember that a job ad is one part art, two parts science. A beautifully written, aspirational job ad is not to be discredited but if it is not also optimised then that beautiful job ad won’t get in front of candidates looking for that type of job. In short, job ad optimisation helps you to attract top talent to your jobs.

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