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Hire education

By Sue Green

A well-written ad guides candidates to the right post, writes Sue Green.

Job advertisements are like looking at real estate, recruitment experts say - interesting to look at, but that does not mean you are in the market.

But an appealing job description, ahead of salary and benefits or description of the company, can persuade job seekers and those "just looking" to apply for a job, research by international recruitment specialist Robert Walters has found.

"Employers must sell them to the job, sell them the company, sell them the opportunity," the director of Robert Walters Queensland, Sinead Hourigan, says.

The survey of almost 800 job seekers found 50 per cent cited the job description as a very strong influence on their decision, while 38 per cent cited salary and benefits.

But Hourigan says employers should not underestimate the importance of including salary in an advertisement. "Eighty per cent of candidates we see will quote financial reward as one of the key drivers for them moving."

For many of those browsing the job classifieds, salary figures were about more than higher pay. They were an opportunity to work out the seniority of the advertised job and compare it with an existing job. "People want to be sure they are being paid equitably," Hourigan says.

The Fairfax Media regional sales director, employment, Nicola Kahui, agrees. "People measure their worth; they could be applying for the same role [for more money]," she says.

Hourigan says other factors that attracted applicants were an accessible and interesting-sounding job title and an advertisement featuring the things they thought important, not necessarily those the employer thought were important.

"For example, with a young candidate, things like the culture and social engagement in the culture," Hourigan says.

Also important is clear, concise writing with attention to syntax, grammar and language, giving a good indication of what is involved, she says.

Kahui adds: "We say to our clients, 'When you buy a house have you noticed how real estate agents will write? They will create a feeling about the house and the key assets and features. It is the same chance when you write an employment advertisement."' Job seekers also want to know there will be opportunities to build a career, both Hourigan and Kahui say.

Kahui says that while many of those browsing advertisements in print media are not necessarily seriously looking, most reading online are active job seekers. So while print advertisements ideally offer "a teaser", online ads can be more detailed.

An executive with online job-search organisation Seek, Helen Souness, says its research also showed job seekers were attracted by a job title that made sense to them and accurately reflected the role; direct, honest and simple language; interesting content about the job; and key information, including salary. "Job seekers don't want to waste their time applying for roles that pay less than they are expecting," she says.

A British psychologist, Richard Wiseman, author of The Luck Factor, says another factor has a bearing on what we derive from job ads: luck.

"Unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else," he says.

"They look through newspapers determined to find certain types of job advertisements and as a result miss other types of jobs. Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and ... see what is there rather than just what they are looking for." 


Published: 13 October 2012

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