Why job adverts are flawed

By Ross Coverdale

kaboompics.com_Man reading newspaper

We have to call out something that is rife throughout the recruitment industry, and it applies to companies all over the globe, hiring companies and recruitment agencies alike. And at Head Resourcing, we are guilty of it too.

Job adverts are generally speaking quite rubbish.

Okay, it’s a bit of a sweeping statement, but I’d hazard a guess that 99% of job adverts that can be found today are not fit for a digital age. For over 100 years people have advertised jobs, from signs in shop windows, to newspaper ads, through to online job boards and recruitment websites, and I’m afraid to say that each advancement has brought us, for the most part, more of the same old thing.

Of course, people can be creative with their copywriting and entice jobseekers with the best possible sell, but it is a bit bizarre that in this day and age when there is so much focus on user and customer experience in product marketing, and that we’re in a stage where specific skills (technical talent to name but one that we’re familiar with) are in the highest demand EVER, that we as a collective industry are still doing things exactly the way that we always have.

Why is this?

In my mind, it’s a mix of their purpose, and the tools that we have at our disposal.

Sure, job adverts have to cover a fair bit of ground, from the role description, to a bit about the company, the skills and experience required for suitable candidates, the tasks they would be performing on a day-to-day basis, additional stuff like travel requirements, certification, sweeteners such as pay rates, benefits and bonuses… the list goes on. That’s a lot of stuff to cover off, and what do us humans default to when we need to share lots of information? The written word. It’s no surprise really that we’ve ended up in the place we’re in.

Now let’s look at our tools. The internet is a truly amazing invention but one thing that is prevalent across the vast majority of websites is that it’s again, more of the same thing that we’ve been doing for years.

We use a clever product called Broadbean which aggregates our job adverts across a range of sites, and it also returns applications from all over back to us through one platform. It’s an incredible system in our recruitment toolbox and it does a great job, but one thing that’s really obvious to me is that in using it, all we can do to help promote the clients we work with is in our ad copy. It’s plain text or nothing. I’m not really criticising Broadbean here, as this is all to do with how the major job boards work; they share web copy across job board systems and that’s what they’re built to do.

Oh, hang on, let’s not forget they can insert a logo. Whoopee.

I’m also not forgetting about the brilliant creative recruitment adverts that have been produced over the years, and it’s a step in the right direction for sure. But let’s be honest; not everyone has the time nor the budget to employ an ad agency to create a clever multimedia campaign every time they have a job, and if I’m being super critical, they generally only offer top-level information (company, job, maybe the location) or in this example from Jaguar Land Rover a movie trailer-esque voiceover guy:

In all seriousness though, there is a part of me that thinks if a potential candidate wants a job bad enough then they should be able to read a few hundred words of a job description and be able to assess their own suitability. However, looking at it from another angle, when companies need talent as much as they need them (if not more so with current supply and demand trends) it’s unfortunate that the way things are doesn’t go that far in enticing and engaging candidates.

It’s all coming from the angle of UX. If you can provide rock-solid customer service and your on-boarding is a breeze, surely there’s even more reason to make sure that the first interaction in the candidate experience journey is as welcoming and exciting as actually working for you.

After all, first impressions count.

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