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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 and what you can do about it.

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: capture what makes the company distinctive and attract the right kind of applicants for the role.

Another fast-paced office

All too often the writer neglects to consider why someone would actually want to work at the particular company. This is what makes the company unique in the eyes of the applicant. By falling back on stock phrases, every company winds up sounding the same.

'No two days are the same'

Quality trumps quantity

Secondly, these rush-written job ads simply don’t attract the right people. It takes more time to understand exactly who you’re looking for and 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 1.4 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 clichés might still 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?

How to write recruitment copy

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.

Here are three factors to consider when deciding on the content of your recruitment copy:

1: Include an interesting "About us" section

The point of the recruitment ad is to make the right candidate want the job. Why not sell yourself a little bit?

Highlight the uniquely interesting aspects of your business. You can talk about what the business does and accomplishes, however you mostly want to focus on things that the applicant would find appealing. Think from their point of view. What intrinsic aspects of working for you company would get the best person for the job excited about coming to work each day?

2: Be clear and concise with essential details

Why make the person that you want to hire sift through lines upon lines of corporate jargon and empty phrases that aren't tangible or important to the job? Keep to the essential details and write them clearly and concisely. This allows the applicants to know exactly what they are applying for and what is required of them.

It is also advisable that you use industry standard job titles. This may not be the best time to express the brand's personality as it might cause certain candidates to miss your recruitment ad altogether. Job hunters are searching through pages and pages of roles looking for very particular job titles. By keeping your job titles professional and standardised, you are more likely to flag down these hasty searchers. If you want to express a unique perspective on a particular role, do so in the body copy.

3: Use an appropriate tone of voice for your brand

It is possible to gain a feeling for a brand and how it operates through the tone of voice used in their communications. The same thing applies to your recruitment copy. We've come across many companies that have an informal, conversational tone in their normal communications, but their recruitment copy is full of corporate lingo and strict demands of the applicants. It leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth, and a feeling that "they weren't who I thought they were".

Leverage your brand tone of voice guidelines to help write a job ad that reflects the values of your business. If the applicant has done their homework on your business, they will appreciate the consistency. Learn more about how brand tone of voice influences readers here.

4: Use AI as a research tool, not as a writer

AI is great for finding information to include in the ad and helping structure the copy. But it's drawn from information already published on the internet, so it's generic. You'll need to bring out the distinctive aspects of the ad yourself.


It's relatively simple right? In theory, yes! However it can definitely seem a lot more complicated in practice.

Would you like the help of a professional copywriter? We have experience writing hard working recruitment copy, and can do so quickly. If you want to speed up the process, and get more, high quality applicants, get in touch by filling out our contact form.


Barnaby Benson


Date posted: 24/06/2014

Date modified: 07/06/2024


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