Writing great job adverts is vital if your startup wants to attract the best talent.
Whether you’re a startup Founder looking to hire an early employee or a Manager scaling your team you need to attract the best candidates and that means writing the best job adverts.
At Hired By Startups, we don’t rely on job adverts to find the best talent but it’s always part of our hiring strategy.
Knowing you’ll receive 50, 100 or more great applications every time you post a new job can only be a good thing.
With that in mind, here’s how we write our adverts and how you can write yours too.
Posting a job description and hoping candidates will apply is by far the most common mistake we see startups make when hiring.
Job adverts and job descriptions are two very different things and should be two separate documents.
The job advert is external and solely to attract potential candidates to apply.
The job description is an internal document to be used by the hiring team against which they can evaluate candidates throughout the hiring process.
What you call the role internally and what you advertise it as externally can, and probably should, be two different things.
If you’re advertising your role as a ‘Client Sourcing Ninja’ and not getting many applicants, it’s probably because not many candidates are searching for, or identify professionally, as anything close to that title.
They’re either searching for, or being notified of, jobs which are a close match to their current title.
So if you’re looking for a Client Sourcing Ninja, you’re better off going with Sales Development Rep and watching your applications increase 10x.
Unless you have a great employer brand with candidates regularly checking your careers page for new roles, your potential applicants are probably reviewing your advert on a job website.
That means even if a candidate has clicked on your advert you still have to fight for their attention against the 10 other job adverts on display.
The best way to do this is to start with a few headline facts, in bold.
Even if you feel you’re repeating what the job board may have included in their own header, it’ll help grab the candidate’s attention.
Include job title, location, company name, industry, funding, salary & package.
Business Development Manager
Series A, FinTech
Old Street, London
£50k-£60k base + uncapped commission (£100k-£120k OTE)
Benefits & equity options
Even if you’ve written a job advert (rather than a job description), used the best performing job title, grabbed initial attention with headline facts, the main body of text is where you’re probably loosing candidates.
On job boards, you’re competing for every second of the candidate’s attention. If your advert opens with two or three full paragraphs on your startup, it’s mission and values you’ll have lost the applicant before they’ve even been able to read about the job.
Keep your opening short and sweet to keep the candidate’s interest.
At ‘XYZ’ we’re a FinTech startup helping gig economy workers buy homes through access to tailored mortgages. We’ve just raised £5m Series A funding and we’re now looking for an Customer Experience Manager to join our team.
If you’re experienced managing Customer Experience teams within a regulated environment and want to join a high growth startup which you can help scale internationally, this could be for you.
Just as with every section of your job advert, keep the candidate’s attention in mind.
Use 5-8 one line bullet points to give some insight into the role, responsibilities and deliverables.
This should give the candidate enough info to decide if this role is in line with what they’re looking for whilst being short enough to hold their attention to keep reading your advert.
Just as with the opening, the ‘About Us’ section of a job advert is where most startups loose their way.
This isn’t the time to provide copious information on your startup’s history, team members, success stories and so on.
Anything more than four sentences is probably too much so pick the real highlights, really sell you startup hard and then move on the qualification part of your advert.
There’s a fine line when writing job adverts between optimising for number of applications and optimising for quality of applications.
If you focus purely on number of applications, you’re going to be wasting too much time reviewing and responding to unsuitable candidates.
If you focus on only attracting perfect fit candidates, you risk missing out on great candidates not obviously suitable for the role or candidates for other roles you’re hiring.
Keep in mind that no matter how hard you try not to, you’ll always attract some unsuitable applicants to any role you advertise.
Deciding which approach depends on a number of factors.
If it’s a standalone role you’re unlikely to hire in the future and you’re looking for a specific profile with a number of non-negotiable requirements then be more specific.
If it’s a repeat hire where the candidate could come from a variety of backgrounds then clearly you can be less specific.
As a startup recruiter, we regularly hire multiple of each role we advertise so we’re happy to be less specific and spend more time reviewing more applications.
At this stage you should include 5-8 one line bullet points explaining what you’re looking for.
Make it clear what you consider a must-have and what you consider a nice to have so candidates can accurately qualify themselves to make an informed application.
If you’ve held the candidate’s attention this far, it’s time to really sell why your startup is a great place to work. Give each benefit a bullet point and, within reason, don’t hold back.
There’s an ongoing debate on whether to include the salary offered with the role in the advert.
The thought being if you don’t let candidates know what you’re willing to pay, you might be able to get a better deal when it comes to negotiating salary. There’s also the fear of missing out on an outstanding candidates you’d increase the salary for but which don’t apply because the advertised salary is too low for them.
We always suggest including a salary banding on your job adverts. It’s often a good idea to let candidates know this is an approximation and subject to experience. It’ll put your startup in a better position when it comes to salary negotiations and is unlikely to put off more senior candidates.
This is the final hurdle where so many startup job adverts fail to attract the best candidates.
You’ve held their attention until the end of the advert and then that’s exactly what they get – the end.
Before they consider their options and next course of action (e.g. applying) another advert has already caught their attention and they’re gone forever, a great candidate you may never get to hire.
That’s why every job advert needs to end with a call to action. That call to action should be simple and the same every time; Apply Now!
Finally, you should test every advert you post to work out what performs best.
Just as with everything, test the big stuff first – start with job title, then move on to the finer points of your advert until you’ve got something which really performs.
If you’ve only received a handful of applications within 48 hours or your candidates don’t seem to match what you’re looking for then review your advert, make some changes and measure your results until it’s performing optimally.
That’s how we write job adverts which perform every time and now you can too!