How to Plan a Recruitment Advertisement


The main aim of any job advertisement must be to encourage a com­pact pool of suitable applicants to apply for the job. It should further discourage unsuitable applicants from getting in touch, and mutually wasting time and resources. Basing all recruitment advertisements on the job description and employee specification will ensure that every­one knows exactly what is involved with the post and whom you wish to employ. Thus, the most appropriate people (That’s the job for me . . . I’m just what they’re looking for!) will contact you^ Inappropriate ones (I don’t fancy doing that for a living . . . I’m not what they want anyway) will choose not to.

Although the contents of all job advertisements will vary according to the individual job description and employee specification, there are some ingredients that should be common to each of them. Bearing in mind the constraints of a particular source of recruitment – for example, you may be short of room on a job centre or employment agency noticeboard – you’d usually try to supply as much information as possible about:

  • the job title
  • the location
  • the duties
  • the salary
  • the fringe benefits
  • the company
  • the person required
  • how to apply.

The job title

Taken from the job description, this must be clear and precise. Steer away from generalized titles. Replace ‘Driver’ with ‘Articulated Lorry Driver’. Avoid in-house titles too. Change ‘Refuse Operative’ to the easily understood ‘Floor Sweeper’. Make sure the job title given is in no way misleading. Often, it will be used as the heading of an advertisement. If it is unclear, job seekers may wrongly assume the post is unsuitable for them and will not read on.

The location

Tell potentially interested applicants exactly where-the job will be based. Always be specific. If advertising locally, put ‘Allenby Indus­trial Estate’ rather than ‘Ipswich’. Should you be advertising nation­ally, state ‘Penrith’ instead of ‘Cumbria’. Some people might not be able or want to work on the Allenby Industrial Estate or in Penrith; thus you’ll reduce the number of unsuitable applications received.

The duties

Describe the job – its purpose, position in the organization, main tasks and responsibilities – as fully as space will allow. You must ensure that applicants know precisely what they’ll have to do. Con­vey a totally honest and realistic picture of the job, with its good and bad features, even if you think it could dissuade some people from applying. It’s far better that they drop out now rather than later in the recruitment process, when you’ll have spent time and money on reading their applications, interviewing and testing them; or after recruiting them, as you’ll then have to begin looking for a new employee all over again.

For example, a nursery store owner might detail a shop assistant’s job as follows: ‘Responsible to the proprietor, the successful candidate will be expected to sell baby clothes and nursery equipment to the general public. Other duties will include unloading, unpacking and displaying stock deliveries from suppliers, keeping the shop clean and tidy and running errands as required’.

The salary

State either an exact salary or, if you have room to negotiate, a possible range making certain the scale is in line with what your other employees earn in the same or similar jobs. Avoid vague statements simply describing the undisclosed salary as ‘first-rate’, ‘highly attrac­tive’ or ‘competitive’. Everyone defines such phrases differently.

As an example, applicants earning £10 000 and £30 000 per annum may all apply for a job with an unstated £20 000 salary labelled as ‘first-class’, as they interpret the comment in relation to their own present level of income. Clearly, those on £10 000 are likely to be unsuitable and those on £30 000 uninterested when they discover the actual sum involved. Much time and effort could have been avoided, and a large pool of applicants reduced, if ‘£20 000’ had been men­tioned to begin with.

The fringe benefits

Nowadays, fringe benefits such as luncheon vouchers, discounts on company goods, low interest-rate loans and free medical insurance are an integral part of an employee’s financial package in an increas­ing number of jobs at all levels. In these days of well documented demographic changes, skills shortages and so forth, you will need to detail these attractive benefits as clearly and prominently as the salary.

Perhaps a company needing to recruit a new sales manager may put: ‘We offer generous fringe benefits including 30 days’ holiday per annum, a non-contributory pension scheme, free health screening and family BUPA and life assurance equal to four times the annual salary’.

The company

Describe your company as fully as you can so that people can decide if this is the type of organization they want to work for and will wish to employ them. You may choose to comment on such information as the company’s activities, number of divisions and employees, products and services, customers and market share, sales turnover and growth plus plans for the future. Ideally, you’ll highlight those areas most appropriate to the job and the type of people likely to apply for it. Would-be accountancy staff will be interested in financial data, sales employees in products, customers and so on.

A hotel advertising for chamber staff, carefully sidestepping a potentially sexist reference to ‘chambermaids’, could state ‘A small family-run hotel, we have six single and eight double or twin bedrooms all with en-suite bath and shower, central heating, colour television, radio and tea- and coffee-making facilities. Four of our double bedrooms also have an extra lounge area. We cater mainly for business residents attending conferences and exhibitions in nearby Harrogate’.

The person required

Listing all the essential requirements, and as many desirable ones as possible, will encourage people to assess carefully their chances of success before applying for the job. (Am I over 18? Have I a full, clean driving licence? and so on.) Effectively, you’re asking a potential applicant to screen themselves, thus saving you the time and trouble of weeding out wholly unsuitable applications. The more criteria you supply, the better your pool of applicants should be.

For example, an office manager seeking an office junior might say: ‘To join our team, you must have a friendly and outgoing nature, be able to type at 50 words per minute and have 5 GCSEs (at C grade) or their equivalent, including Mathematics and English. Previous experience of office work would be an asset’.

How to apply

Everyone needs to be told who and where to apply to. Giving a full name and address, whether your own or an agency’s, is far better than a box number as few people will submit personal, confidential information to an unknown source. Also state how and by when they should apply. Letters of application, with or without a curriculum vitae, application forms and telephone calls are the most common ways of screening and shortlisting candidates for interview. A closing date – perhaps for a month’s time – may help to ensure a speedy, prompt response. Ask applicants to quote a reference number to help you measure the success of the advert/ source of recruitment.

Filed Under: Work & Careers

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About the Author: Vanessa Page works a career counselor in one of the leading firms in Los Angeles. She is also a blogger and gives tips on how people can tackle their work and career issues. She has 8 years of experience in this field.

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