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The Psychology of Creating Insanely Good Job Advertisements

Posted by Kelly Robinson

08-Jul-2015 12:00:00

Recently, I wrote 3 of the Most Hilariously Clever Job Ads We’ve Ever Seen, so we thought we should elaborate a bit on why these were so clever. Engaging with the creative and quick-witted candidates (as the job adverts I highlighted do) isn’t always simple; but don’t worry, you can improve your job advertisement skills. It all comes down to a basic understanding of psychology.




If you’ve ever taken a class in the fundamentals of ethics the instructor most likely touched on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Rekindle these thoughts… now apply them to talent acquisition. What do you see? A common thread (or pyramid if you will) of essential candidate necessities that should formulate your job ads.


Money isn’t everything, but you should still hint at the candidate’s wallet

Salary is the third most common reason employees will leave their job. It isn’t everything, but it can be a driving force towards the job search. Think about it. You wouldn’t leave a job you loved for the same job at a similar company if the pay was comparable. However, if the other position offered a larger salary, an employee would in the very least consider the transition.

When you start creating the job advertisement, consider who you’re targeting. Passive candidates? A talent competitor’s candidate pool? Recent college grads? These are all candidates who will predominantly take salary into consideration when it comes to accepting an offer from a new employer.


broadbeantwitter-01 Consider who you're targeting when it comes to job ads. Are you providing the right information?


Candidates want to know they will have job security and benefits

Still fresh out of the recession gates, many job seekers look for positions that offer stability. While contract positions are still a viable option, candidates will often self-select out of the process because you’re not meeting their basic needs. Matt Buckland, elaborated:

“That’s a good thing at this stage. After all, remember that a great job ad isn’t about appealing to the masses, it’s about gaining the interest of the few relevant professionals who are going to be the right match for you. Relevance trumps reach.”

Give them this information up front. Is it a full-time position? Contract? Part-time? Seasonal? These are all pieces of information that will not only help you pre-filter the candidate pool, but information candidates want to see. When you begin creating a job advertisement, be sure to include this vital information so you don’t miss a potential ideal candidate in the lack of detail.


broadbeantwitter-01 What do candidates really want to see in a job ad? Appeal to them using these psychological tips!


Who said there is no “I” in team? Write it with an “I”

Candidates want to know they will belong in their new environment amongst their new coworkers and supervisor. Consider more than 6 in 10 employees who work for a bad boss will begin their job search within the next year… do they really belong in the culture? Probably not.

Highlight key features of the company culture that dictate the types of candidates that will apply. Does the position call for an organized individual? Collaborative? Out-going? Add a bit of character to the company boilerplate in the job ad so candidates can filter themselves in or out of continuing through the recruitment process.


Give candidates individual opportunities

Especially with the Millennial working generation, candidates want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. On the other hand, they still crave the autonomy associated with individual opportunities rather than yet another gear in a clock that doesn’t quite keep time. Give enough information in the job advertisement to explain what the candidate would be doing.

People want to feel valued, even in the job ad. How can you do that? Explain why the position is important to meeting organizational goals or express how vital the role is to fulfilling a vibrant team dynamic.


They need professional growth

Last but not least, and subsequently on the top of the pyramid, candidates often search for jobs that will give them opportunities to grow. In fact, 63% of employees believe learning new skills or even special training is most important to advancing their career. If you provide these or reimburse tuition costs for course that pertain to their field, why wouldn’t you place them in the job ad? It could be the tipping point for many passive candidates.

Explain in the job ad the opportunities for professional development or career advancement. Macy’s, for example, even before the job seeker applies for a role, created the online Career Path Tool. Candidates can then see what the progression of their time at the company might look like.

Even though you don’t have a ton of space in the job advert (ideally one page) to explain how great the position is all while tying in company culture, development opportunities, and the like, that doesn’t negate the need to include them. Successful job advertisements fulfill each of the tiers in the candidate’s Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. A well-rounded and strong job ad only requires a bit of creativity, culture and detail to ensure the right candidate comes to your door.

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