University of Bath

How to write an effective job advert

Guidance and tips on how to write an effective job advert to attract the best possible candidates for the role.

Writing a job advert

The aim of the job advert is to attract interest, communicate quickly and clearly the essential (appealing and relevant) points, and to provide a clear response process and mechanism.

The job advertisement is the potential applicant's window into the University. If you want to attract the right people you need to make sure they know you're there, know what you're about and why you need them.

Use the person specification and job description as guidance for what you are asking for. It should, ideally, consist of two or three concise sentences detailing the main purpose of the post and specifying one or two essential and desirable criteria to attract the ideal type of candidate.

What to include

Information about the University and what it does.

Never assume that the reader knows who you are and what you do. It is important to tell them what you do as well as sell the benefits.

Information about the job

Tell the potential applicant exactly what the job is. Make sure you detail exactly the level of responsibility and the main duties, but sell the challenges and what the job may lead to in the future.

What the University looking for

Tell the reader all the skills, qualifications and attributes you think anyone filling your vacancy will need. Self-selection on the part of potential candidates is a key aim of the advert and this means enough detailed information about the job and the kind of candidate sought.

How much they are going to get paid

Tell them what they are going to get paid and what the benefits will be. Most people scanning job adverts gauge their suitability by the title and the salary.

Don’t:

  • have too much technical detail about the job or the Faculty/Department.

  • use too many words - keep it simple.

  • have uninspiring, boring descriptions of roles and ideal candidates.

  • have too much emphasis on the job and not enough on the person.

Do:

  • make the advert easy to read. Use language that your reader uses. If you want clues as to what this might be imagine the newspaper/website they read, and limit your vocabulary to that found in the newspaper/website.

  • use short sentences. More than fifteen words in a sentence reduces the clarity of the meaning.

  • get the reader involved. Refer to the reader as ‘you’ and use the second person (‘you’, ‘your’ and ‘yours’ etc) in the description of the requirements and expectations of the candidate and the job role. This helps people to visualise themselves in the role.

  • try to incorporate something new, innovative, exciting, challenging .People are attracted to new things, either in the University or the role.

  • stress what is unique. Try to emphasise what makes your job and the University special.

Avoiding discrimination

  • sexual discrimination: as much as you might want to balance up your gender heavy department with a member of the opposite sex, this is illegal to ask for within a job advert. The job title you use should therefore never be gender specific.

  • racial discrimination: racial discrimination is taken just as seriously as gender discrimination and many of the same principles apply. However there are some situations where being of a certain race can be seen as a genuine occupational qualification. Even where language is an important part of the role you must state that someone must be able to converse in the language rather than being from a particular country, for example 'Italian speaking' rather than 'Italian'.

  • age discrimination: age discrimination rules not only cover stipulating upper or lower age limits for job applicants, but also implied terms such as ‘youthful', ‘dynamic' or ‘mature'. All these terms could be seen as excluding someone from applying for a role based on their age. Even asking for a certain level of experience from candidates could be deemed as discriminating against someone who has not had the opportunity to gain that experience as they are too young. There are plenty of ways of rephrasing your job advert, such as asking for candidates who have demonstrated a certain task, but putting a number of years on how long they have taken to achieve that task would contravene the legislation.

  • disability discrimination: it is important for all businesses to ensure disabled candidates have as many opportunities to join their organisation as anybody else. This covers job adverts as well as the rest of the recruitment process, such as making your offices wheelchair accessible for job interviews.

Again, the language and the criteria you use is very important — for example, there is no reason to stipulate that candidates must hold a driving licence if they are not going to be expected to do any driving for the job. There is obviously some physical activity that is crucial to some positions, but you must make sure this is a genuine necessity for the role rather than a ‘nice to have'