Why your job advert isn’t working

By We Are Adam
02 Sep 2021

Often, a job advertisement is the first piece of communication from your company that a candidate will see. This means that it is of the utmost importance that you are nailing your job adverts, first time.

In a candidate-poor job market, your job advertisement is more important than ever. It not only needs to act as a description of the role, but also as a piece of marketing showing anyone reading why your company is the best place to work. Why should candidates apply for your vacancy? What makes your company stand out from the rest as a better place to work?  What benefits can you offer to turn the heads of those only casually browsing vacancies?

For our second blog in the series, we’re tackling the common reasons our clients trip up with their job adverts.

It isn’t clear to read

The main reason people stop reading a job advertisement is that it doesn’t make sense.

We’ve all seen our fair share of dodgy job adverts, but some are so badly written that they leave a bad taste in your mouth when you think about the company. A poorly written job advert is more likely to be ignored by the candidate. It makes your hiring process seem like an afterthought and could make someone apprehensive about the entire recruitment process.

Keep is clear and concise – use bullet points if you need to!

Low salary – or no salary displayed at all

At We Are Adam, we are firm believers in putting a salary range on your job advertisement.

These days, there is no excuse not to. We are far beyond the days of guarding the secrets of our salaries with our lives, and as we try to break down the gender and ethnicity pay gaps there is a huge need for transparency. If you are concerned about pay discrepancies within the existing team, you could have a wider HR issue that needs to be addressed.

It is also just good manners. If you are expecting a candidate to take the time to apply for a role, and possibly dedicate more time to you if you progress their application, it is only fair to give them all of the information that they need going in. We’ve heard countless tales of people who have applied, only to find out later that the salary is much lower than their current one. They were left with a very negative image of the companies involved.

We conducted some research and found that a whopping 44% of our candidates will not even consider applying for a role that doesn’t display salary, and 43% will apply, but with negative feelings about the company. Just 10% said that it doesn’t bother them, and a tiny 4% stated it made the role more attractive.

Even if you’re not 100% sure on the salary, putting a salary range or ‘circa’ can help.

Unrecognisable job title

Many of us have a story about reading a job advert title and thinking… what on Earth is that?!

Companies often give similar roles wildly different job titles, but the vast majority of these are recognisable for what they do. It’s when businesses try to get too ‘funky’ or fall into the trap of using their industry’s jargon as a job title on a job advertisement.

One we see often, for example, is ‘NAM’. Whilst some people may look at this an instantly think ‘National Account Manager’, many more would not. And whilst you may like to call your copywriters ‘Wordsmiths’, it may just confuse or put off potential candidates. Don’t even get us started on ‘ninja’, ‘jedi’ and ‘wizard’.

It also works against you when people are searching for roles. If they type ‘copywriter’ into the search bar, it’s unlikely that your job advert with the title ‘Wordsmith’ will show up in the results.

You’re asking for too much

We get it – it’s a tough market at the moment. You want to find yourself a ‘unicorn’ who is all-signing, all-dancing, does the work of 3 people and ticks every box. We hate to break it to you, but it’s very unlikely that you’ll find this mythical creature.

Yes, there are very talented, highly-skilled people out there – but remember that most of these very talented, highly-skilled workers are likely to already be employed. You need to have something really special to turn their heads.

Be prepared to be flexible when it comes to your search. Separate the skills on your job advert into ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ and be prepared to bend if required. You may have an applicant that possesses 80% of the skills you require with a willingness to learn the remaining 20% on the job, but if you stick rigidly to the skills on the job advert, you may discount them… and end up losing out on a dedicated and talented employee.

Your business has a bad reputation

Nobody wants to discover that their business has a bad reputation as an employer, let alone acknowledge it. If you’re about to embark on a hiring spree, however, then it is something that you absolutely have to be considering.

If you have no idea what sort of employer reputation you have, your first port of call should be Glassdoor. Anonymous reviews from current and former employees is a good way to find out what people love about working for you, what they hate, and where you can improve.

Your Employer Brand is as important as your public-facing brand. Having a reputation as a good employer attracts the most talented people to your business, and a bad one will leave you with only the dregs of the candidate market.

If you have a good employer brand, you should be marketing it. Your brand Instagram account is a great place to post ‘behind the scenes’ content and showcase what it is really like to work there. We recently penned a piece on our own blog about using Instagram to attract candidates.

Quick tips

There are also several other quick and easy ways to improve the impact of your job advertisements and boost your responses.

Location – If your business is in an awkward or out-of-the-way spot, your location may put people off applying. It’s not feasible to uproot your whole business but consider moving to a hybrid working model or allowing work from home, to make the location less of a deciding factor.

Don’t be discriminatory – You would be surprised at how many discriminatory adverts we still see. Read and re-read your advertisement as much as possible to make sure that you’re not accidently excluding marginalised people, such as neurodivergents, ethnic minorities or those from working class backgrounds, for example. A second or third set of eyes would be useful here.

Don’t gender-code – Like the above, this is likely to be done completely by accident, but that doesn’t negate the fact it happened. Look at the language you’ve used and ask yourself questions like ‘does it hint at a ‘lads culture’?’ etc.

End your advert with an Inclusion statement – By showcasing that your business is actively looking to recruit inclusively, and that you’re willing to make reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process for those who need it, you are already miles ahead of your competitors, and you’re likely to attract candidates who may be put off by traditional job adverts.

If you would like support writing an inclusion statement, or any other aspect of your job advert, please reach out and we’ll be happy to help!

In case you missed it, last month we explored the current challenges businesses are facing when it comes to hiring remotely. Next month we’ll be guiding you through a successful interview process, so be sure to check back.



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