Discover more from Your mileage may vary
A pizza cake
Job adverts that work
Welcome to the first edition of my newsletter – Your Mileage May Vary: better recruitment for UK employers that have agency.
Seeing as this is the first newsletter, I’ve made it a bumper edition.
Fear not, they will be more concise in future.
Today, I’m writing about one of the most common mistakes employers make when recruiting, the consequence of it getting wrong, and a few pointers on how you can get better mileage.
This post is about advertising, one of many channels to fill a vacancy, yet the only one that is visible to everyone.
Job adverts don’t work for key hires. Right?
I’ll start with a spoiler – job descriptions are not job adverts.
But first, let’s talk about the importance of Pizza, something I enjoyed on Friday night.
Did I enjoy it because -
It contains Wheatflour, Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin), Spicy Marinated Chicken (18%) <etc, etc, the ingredients list is very long> Chillies, Salt, Yeast, Malted Wheatflour (contains Gluten), Cornflour, Smoked Paprika, White Wine Vinegar, Basil, Coarse Black Pepper, Chilli Powder, Garlic Purée
Or was it because -
Friday night pizza night is a family tradition. A sign of the end of the week and a relaxing weekend to come.
At the store, I saw a spicy delight, one that would set my taste buds tingling, go down well with a beer, and carb-load me for a long run over the weekend (honest).
There's something about that stringy cheese, crispy base and sizzling spices that's unbeatable on a Friday night (ymmv).
And I've no doubt, when you see these pizzas advertised, they'll focus on this experience and not the ingredients. Such as:
"This deliciously crisp sourdough pizza base is topped with Italian tomato sauce seasoned with basil, olive oil and garlic and topped with fiery marinated hand-pulled chicken and sweet and spicy Roquito® peppers, finished with slices of red chillies."
Backed up by attractive packaging and a glimmer of the feast to come.
Besides, I pretty much know what's in a pizza as I would know the broad responsibilities of a <insert job title>.
Your endless shopping list of unsurprising duties, without showing the morsels that might titillate me to explore further - why would I buy yours, when I have so many other choices, in better packaging?
Those ingredients - they're what describe the detail of your job. A job description.
This an important piece of the puzzle that candidates no doubt check before interview.
In case they are allergic to something.
Yet, it has a different part to play than an advert, whose place is to attract a reader to apply or simply make an enquiry.
If you confuse job descriptions with adverts, it's no wonder your adverts don't work.
Why does it matter?
Let’s assume you have done due diligence and established both what good is in your ideal candidate, and why they might be tempted to come work for you.
Then you advertise, and it is read by your ideal candidate. Yet they choose not to apply.
To have your advert read by your ideal candidate and then actively decide not to apply shows something is really wrong.
Yet time and time again this is what happens.
Worse still, you’ll never know, because their decision not to apply is invisible, except for the example I’ll give below.
Even worse yet, readers who have little care about what they apply for have no reason not to apply!
And you’re left thinking advertising doesn’t work.
Yes, but you would say that.
This brings me on to a recent real-life example to show the difference.
I work exclusively with an employer whose policy is to advertise at the same time.
Their advertising format is:
- A bit about the company
- Generic information about the role
- £competitive salary and a list of benefits
I take a multichannel approach, including my own adverts which had three excellent applicants.
All of whom, when I told them the company name, said that they had chosen not to apply direct, because they weren’t actively looking and the employer’s advert wasn’t appealing.
Whereas my accurate and representative, warts and all, advert made them want to apply.
I’m not blowing my own trumpet – simply saying the company would not have had the opportunity to interview these candidates or offer one of them, based solely on their own adverts.
If you’re interested, email me and I’ll send you a copy of both adverts (company info will be removed as a courtesy).
Can you imagine what may have happened if the employer had run my advert directly?
Action points to take away
There are simple things you can do to move your adverts from the static uninteresting company advert above, to one that appeals to your ideal candidate:
Define what good is in your candidates, and what inspires them
Understand and articulate this with meaning in your adverts
Apply the AIDA framework to gain and convert their interest
As a bonus, check how your current agencies advertise - you’ll learn a lot about their quality of service
Simple action points, which require time and effort to employ.
As for the learn copywriting element – I’m happy to recommend a number of trainers and publications that can give you an edge.
Good job advertising is highly effectively and is also a framework for how you engage candidates.
Improve your adverts and you’ll receive better quality applications, and fewer unsuitable applications.
And you can do it all yourself.
Which brings me to the end of this newsletter. The next edition is much shorter, touching on another aspect of job adverts - clichés that work against you.
Thanks for reading.
p.s. If you’re still here, like the idea of improving how you recruit, lack the time to invest in it, and are curious how I can help, these are my services:
- recruitment of key hires in commercial, operational and technical leadership disciplines
- manage part or all of your recruitment on annualised service basis (Cognate)
- recruitment coaching and mentoring (if you need a periodic steer in the right direction)
- recruitment strategy setting (for single vacancies through to programmes of work)
Just hit reply if you want to check if my approach is right for you.