Putting your job advert into words

Avoid unsuitable applications

At IntJobs we see a lot of job ads, and it's suprising how many job ads that fail to provide basic information. And therefore recruiters waste a lot of time analysing unqualified applications, and perhaps having to re-publish the advert.

To get only the best applications, and reduce the number of rejected applicants, try these:

  • Have very clear requirement list, and make it as short as possible;
  • Have a separate "would be advantageous to have" list;
  • Indicate that "only short listed candidates will be contacted";
  • Write clearly where the job is located geographically;
  • Specify if applicants must be EU nationals, or must have a valid work permit;
  • Define clear posting and closing dates;
  • Make posting, mailing and telephone contact details easy to find.

Prevent unqualified job seekers from sending useless applications by having a statement that explains that your job requirements are firm. For example:
"Please read the qualifications for this position carefully. We will only consider those who meet the listed requirements."
This won't stop everyone, but it will deter people who are unsure whether you are serious about your stated requirements.

A clear statement of how you are going to reply to applicants will reduce you work task when handling the incoming CVs. Write for example:
"The deadline for applications to reach us is 30 March 2007. If you have not heard from us by 15 April, please assume that your application has not been successful."

Clarity means reaching the right people

Give candidates the information they need for applying. If an employer is vague or incomplete, the job seekers you want may be less likely to apply, and those who are unsuitable may be encouraged to apply. In fact the hired candidate might have a long term motivational problem, because of an unclear job description.

Here is a clear job description sample (taken from WHO) - it explicitly divides job tasks into clear groupings:

  • Negotiate agreements with external publishers (both nonprofit and for-profit) for the translation and publication of information materials in appropriate languages;
  • Cultivate and expand partnerships worldwide with both nonprofit and for-profit bodies in the area of publishing.

Things to avoid when wording your job description:

  • clever or obscure headlines;
  • coded and idiosyncratic communications;
  • uninspiring descriptions of roles and ideal candidates;
  • too much emphasis on the job and not enough on the person;
  • words which are subject to differing interpretations, for example: "frequently," "some," "complex," "occasional," and "several".

Remember, it's a bigger decision to spend years or a lifetime working for your company than it is to purchase your service. The rule is to excite and motivate candidates to apply to your job posting - not scare them away.

Cut down applications by setting a task

Don't make the application process too easy. Instead of just asking for a CV, include an assignment in your posting. Consider these examples:

  • A company looking for a Web editor could include the following: When applying, please provide an outline of your approach to online news editing. The successful applicant will be asked to completely overhaul the site, so we'd like to know how you would approach that process;
  • Or an association looking for lobbying advocates could ask applicants to write a cover letter outlining three challenging negotiation situations they handled successfully.

Qualified candidates will be excited to have the opportunity to stand out from the crowd, while casual applicants will be less willing to put in that much effort for a long-shot application.

Include your organisation's motivation

Every organisation and company is unique. They have different strategies, cultures and ways of doing business. Some people do better in one environment than another. You should give job seekers a profile of your company to decide if yours is the right one for them. Sell your company as you would sell your services.

But still, don't forget to make your job ad attractive. Find out what attracted the existing team to apply for their jobs and use that information. You may find that training is a key motivator or that the financial package was a major draw. Play on your strengths and keep the ad benefit-oriented.

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