Writing a Job Advertisement


  • Create a compelling job advertisement.

Managers know more than anyone else about what a particular position involves and what kinds of skills an employee needs to do the job effectively. They may be the one to request the creation of a new position in the first place. They are very likely to be asked to help define an existing job or a new job. They, with the help of HR professionals, will describe the tasks and responsibilities of the position as well as the qualifications required.

When you read job advertisements, do you ever wonder how the company comes up with the job advertisement?

Company Brand

Creating a compelling job advertisement is similar to writing a compelling marketing pitch. The first step in the process is attraction, defined as “a quality or feature of something or someone that evokes interest, liking, or desire.” It’s no surprise then that one of the best practices for recruiting is for an organization to cultivate a strong employment brand.

In a recruiting best practices perspective post[1], Wood Personnel asks: “How is a new job with your company like a new car? ‘Brand’ matters.” The post goes on to explain that “job seekers . . . treat new job searches the same way they treat major purchase decisions. They use digital tools to conduct extensive brand research before making a final choice.” In order to attract the best candidates, hiring managers need to clearly define their employment brand. Here are a few specific recommendations to help you do so:

  • Clarify your corporate culture
  • Understand your market position
  • Set performance expectations
  • Help candidates determine whether they would be a good fit before they even apply

Perspective Point

A clear and compelling employer value proposition not only tells candidates why they want to work for you, but it also reminds current employees why they’re there.

Practice Question

Job Analysis

In order to advertise a job, you first have to understand what that job entails (at least to best current knowledge, as jobs are often shifting in their scope). Job analysis is often done with the help of Industrial and Organizational (I-O) psychologists. There are two related but different approaches to job analysis—you may be familiar with the results of each as they often appear on the same job advertisement. The first approach is task-oriented and lists in detail the tasks that will be performed for the job. Each task is typically rated on scales for how frequently it is performed, how difficult it is, and how important it is to the job. The second approach is worker-oriented. This approach describes the characteristics required of the worker to successfully perform the job. This second approach has been called job specification (Dierdorff & Wilson, 2003). For job specification, the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that the job requires are identified.

Observation, surveys, and interviews are used to obtain the information required for both types of job analysis. It is possible to observe someone who is proficient in a position and analyze what skills are apparent. Another approach used is to interview people presently holding that position, their peers, and their supervisors to get a consensus of what they believe are the requirements of the job.

How accurate and reliable is a job analysis?

Research suggests that it can depend on the nature of the descriptions and the source for the job analysis. For example, Dierdorff & Wilson (2003) found that job analyses developed from descriptions provided by people holding the job themselves were the least reliable; however, they did not study or speculate why this was the case.

Learn More

The United States Department of Labor maintains a database of previously compiled job analyses for different jobs and occupations. This allows the I-O psychologist to access previous analyses for nearly any type of occupation. This system is called O*Net (accessible at www.online.onetcenter.org). The site is open and you can see the KSAs that are listed for your own position or one you might be curious about. Each occupation lists the tasks, knowledge, skills, abilities, work context, work activities, education requirements, interests, personality requirements, and work styles that are deemed necessary for success in that position. You can also see data on average earnings and projected job growth in that industry.

The O*Net database describes the skills, knowledge, and education required for occupations, as well as what personality types and work styles are best suited to the role. See what it has to say about being a food server in a restaurant or an elementary school teacher or an industrial-organizational psychologist.

Selling the Job

With the employer brand clarified and the job defined, we can move on to selling the job. What differentiates a compelling ad from one that isn’t noticed, or worse, rejected, is emotion. That is, in order to make a job advertisement compelling, you must make an emotional connection.

Brand and Marketing Strategist Alex Honeysett’s recommendations for writing a compelling blog post also apply to writing a compelling job ad: “Now more than ever, people want to connect with brands in a human way.”[2] And candidates are seeking that same humanity in potential employers. Her two key recommendations: share a story and write with a specific person in mind. The rationale for the latter point: “By writing with one person in mind, your tone, story, and message will be much more focused and detailed than if you’re writing to a nameless, faceless group of people. And your readers will connect to that focus and detail.”[3]

The following nine-step job ad development process is a combination of Honeysett’s recommendations and Betterteam’s job posting template[4]:

  1. Write a compelling headline
  2. Craft a compelling hook
  3. Write with a specific person in mind
  4. Pitch the position with emotion as well as the key facts
  5. Tell the company’s story—and invite the candidate to be part of it
  6. Sell the area
  7. Summarize, selling the package
  8. Close with a call to action
  9. Have a member of the target audience read and comment

Read more: CareerBuilder’s 5 Best Practices for Defining Your Employer Brand: https://resources.careerbuilder.com/employer-blog/5-best-practices-defining-employment-brand