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How to write a successful job ad

Overwhelmed woman reading newspaper

Writing an effective job advertisement is the best way to woo the right applicants and will help you sort the wheat from the chaff. You need to present your company in the best light, as well as accurately describe the position and its role within the company. The more specific you are in your criteria, the more effectively you will target the right applicant – and see if they’ve bothered to read the fine print.

Putting together an effective job ad is simple if you stick to some basic guidelines.

Job title

Make sure you include the professional job title at the top of the ad. Potential applicants will search for certain keywords in relation to the position, so it’s a make-or-break manoeuvre. Make it simple, honest and to-the-point. You may choose to add extra information if it makes the job title more specific – for example, ‘Project Manager – Financial Services’ is more informative than simply ‘Project Manager’.

The company

After knowing what the job is, the applicant wants to know exactly who they will be working for. Show how desirable your company is, the opportunities it presents and why a talented worker should uproot from a current job to come and work for you. You could include some points about the organisation’s position in the industry, the central location of the office and opportunities to travel or be promoted within the company.

Job description

Now you need to tell your future employees exactly what the job entails. Top performers respond to challenges more than money, so you want to make the job sound rewarding and stimulating. Tell potential applicants what they will be responsible for; give an outline of their day-to-day tasks and who they will be answering to. This will give job seekers an idea of the expectations for the role. Also mention when the position will commence and whether it’s full-time, part-time or contractual.

Ideal candidate description

It’s time to let potential applicants know exactly what you want out of them. This isn’t the time to beat around the bush – you want to filter out the unsuitable people before you find yourself with a stack of useless resumes. Also, giving a strong description will attract people who are after a challenge.

Many companies make the mistake of using lots of buzzwords that don’t necessarily translate into anything practical. Use criteria that mean something, like how much experience is desirable and what level of education is expected. Also outline what skills are required – for example, customer service or specific computer programs.

If there is a clear outline of the ideal candidate for the job, it will mean stronger applications as well as applicants who will fit into the dynamics of the company. You may choose to use bullet points to cover characteristics such as:

  • Highly motivated and results driven
  • Excellent communication, presentation and time management skills
  • Energy and enthusiasm
  • Sound judgement and decision making
  • Highly numerate with superior analytical skills
  • A commitment to outstanding customer service
  • Attention to detail

Salary package

The salary question has to be broached at some point. Most people scanning a page of ads gauge their suitability for the role on the wage. If a media manager who is on $40,000 sees a job ad for a media manager on $200,000, they may think it’s out of their depth. You should also list any extra perks that will set you apart from the competitors. A fantastic location or unusual perks of the job, commission, supportive work–life balance policies or flexible work hours can be effective selling points. Alternatively, you could write ‘salary package to be negotiated’ if the level of the job is evident.


A simple job ad is an effective one. Ads that are plainly written and clearly formatted are easier to read and will enable job seekers to quickly assess their suitability for the job. Bullet points work well.

Steer clear of complicated job descriptions, fancy designs, funky language or anything out of the ordinary. Someone reading a job ad with lots of fancy, yet confusing jargon will wonder straight away what the catch is.

How to apply

Make sure the method of application is clear. Most advertisements have a contact email and number with the name of the person applicants can direct their enquiries to. Don’t forget to put a closing date on applications!

Don’t discriminate

A recent survey by Kelly Services found almost half of business professionals would be in breach of anti-discrimination laws when writing a job ad. Putting together a job ad that doesn’t discriminate is actually harder than it sounds – firstly because there are so many groups you can discriminate against, and also because laws vary across states.

In general, all jobs must be open to all people on the basis of merit, and only merit. That means the job ad can’t discriminate against age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, transgender status, industrial activity, marital status, family responsibilities, breastfeeding, physical features, political belief or activity, pregnancy, race, or religious belief or activity.

Where to publish your job advertisement

These days jobs are most often posted online. The largest Australian job boards are on the Seek, MyCareer and CareerOne websites. You could also choose to publish your ad in your local paper or the MyCareer lift-out of the Sydney Morning Herald. Government jobs are also posted on the website or the print version of the Australian Public Service Gazette. Make sure you publish your advertisement in a place that will reach the right demographic for the job.

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