Tuesday 24 June 2014

How to write recruitment copy that actually does the job

It seems like the vast majority of recruitment copy is written by a robot in a rush. Here’s why it shouldn't be that way.

Everyone who’s ever applied for a job has no doubt spent a chunk of their time and a slither of their soul wading through a swamp of identikit job ads. Packed with buzzwords and empty phrases, they often flop on the two things they’re designed to do.

Another fast-paced office
First of all, they fail to articulate what’s actually distinctive about this one particular company. All too often the writer neglects to consider why someone would actually want to work there. By falling back on stock phrases, every company winds up sounding the same.

It’s not about quantity
Secondly, these rush-written job ads simply don’t attract the right people. To do this, you need to know exactly who you’re looking for. And then you need to articulate it. This often takes some interrogation of those doing the hiring. 

Part of attracting the right candidates is putting off those not suited to the role. This saves both the recruiter and the job searcher valuable time. 

Our Christmas temp job ads for Next are a prime example. Here, we encouraged self-selection by making the potential applicant ask themselves three searching questions before they pressed ‘apply’. Each playfully worded question evoked a challenging aspect of the role – and a key character trait needed to thrive in it.

We did a similar thing for McDonald’s. Most people think owning a Golden Arched franchise is a license to print money. In reality it’s a super-sized portion of hard work. When writing a brochure seeking to recruit prospective franchisees, we focused on the dedication and skills needed to make your ‘restaurant’ a success. The result was a brochure that only attracted those up for a challenge.

Careers websites need love too
These days, recruitment copy is about more than just the ad itself. Company careers websites are just as important. Again, they need to capture what makes the company distinctive and appeal to the types of candidates you want to attract. It’s the same principles, just in longer form. Here’s how we did it for SThree, the listed recruitment Goliath.

Advertise cheap, advertise twice
With over two million people unemployed and the job market more competitive than two divorcees fighting over a handsome, new widower, recruitment copy that’s packed with the usual clich├ęs might just attract a stack of applicants. But will they be the right ones? And will you just have to go through the same ordeal in a few months’ time?

As they say, the best written recruitment ad is the one that garners a single response: the perfect person for the job.

We probably can’t deliver that – but we can get a lot closer than most.

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