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A Thing How to Write a Sizzling Recruitment Ad (Part 1)
How to Write a Sizzling Recruitment Ad (Part 1)


Dr. Dave Barnett


If you want to learn how to write a good recruitment ad, spend some time reading and analyzing recruitment ads. Find last Sunday's classifieds. Turn to the "Sales" section. As you browse, notice the ads which immediately draw your eye. Why do you read some and skip over others? Do some ads seem to have more credibility than others? If so, why?


Size Matters


Before candidates ever read a word of your ad, they've already formed an opinion of you and your company from the appearance and size of your ad. When it comes to advertising, the media is the message.

People instinctively look first at what is largest on the page. It's the way our brains work. It's also the way most classifieds work. Larger notices get placed first. So, when both size and position work for you, your ad screams, "I'm important. Pay attention to me."

As important as size is, it's critically important not to cram too much information into the ad. Empty space is more attractive to the brain than clutter. Notice the use of "white space" in employment ads. If you must include details, be sure your headline is easy to read and attention-getting.


The Art of Advertising


In addition to size, larger ads attract more attention because they often contain artwork or photos. The human eye is drawn instinctively to faces first. You may not have celebrity endorsements, but you don't need famous faces to draw attention to your ads. Any photo of smiling real people will work.

One company tripled the response rate to its ad by simply adding its company logo. Artwork gives a reason for white space. The human brain finds symbols easier and more intriguing than words.


Communicate Values to Needs


So far, we haven't said anything about the content of your recruitment ad. In my opinion, the copy is secondary to the size and attractiveness of the ad. But once you've got the reader's attention, your ad must "sell" the reader.

Why does anybody buy anything? Because you fill a need with something the customer feels has value. Therefore, writing the winning recruitment ad must identify to readers how your values and uniqueness will meet their needs.

What's your selling style? Are you a charming back-slapper, or do you like to be more careful and analytical about things? Is your style to be empathetic and concerned, or do you hit the bottom line quickly? Your style of interacting with your salespeople is a very important piece of the puzzle. Your style dictates the values you bring to recruiting a winning sales team. Your style should shape the kind of ad campaign you run as a reflection of your values.


How Recruitment Ads Communicate Values


If you know your style, you know the styles you will likely work best with and those that will frustrate you. You can then design words and pictures, which appeal to deep pre-conscious needs of those you want to attract.

Here are some basic themes, which capture the attention and communicate at a very deep level to the basic drives of salespeople.

If you need a candidate to impress others by telling your story, attract performers with appeals to recognition, prestige, and glamour. Feature pictures of young, energetic, well dressed, laughing people. Always start the ad with the word "YOU." Appeal to their sense of fun. Position your opportunity as prestigious with lots of opportunity for recognition and enjoyment of life.


Example: World-renowned product looking for energetic, dynamic, free thinker to market to prestigious businesses.

If you need a self-starting candidate who doesn't need much oversight, attract commanders which appeals to control, promotion, and privilege. Commanders are attracted to negative advertising. You'll get their attention by starting your ads with negative words such as "Don't," "You can't," and "Never." Appeal to their sense of duty and suspiciousness. Position your opportunity as demanding with the opportunity for advancement.


Example: Don't read this ad unless you're one tough-minded SOB who can handle responsibility that would destroy most salespeople.

One note of caution: be ready for the kind of people who will answer an ad like this.

If you need a candidate who is careful and conscientious, attract analyzers with ads that ask questions rather than make statements. Include lots of facts and figures, graphs and charts, maps and details. The smaller the print the better. Position your opportunity as a problem to be solved. Be sure to mention benefits and company stability.


Example: Are you looking for salary plus bonus plus benefits? We're a solid, stable company looking for an expert problem solver.

If you need candidates to build relationships and service existing accounts, appeal to empathizers by emphasizing teamwork and personal caring in your ads. Use words like "us" and "our." Soften the hard edges.


Example: Our small, close-knit team needs a caring individual to service existing accounts and invite new clients to partner with our company.

Be careful to avoid mentioning anything in your ad about race, religion, color, gender, age, physical abilities, or other factors which may be considered discriminatory. Not only are such biases illegal in the workplace, they are also bad for business. Be sure any and all requirements outlined in your recruitment ad are clearly job-related. Keep the focus on what people DO, not what they ARE. If you satisfy these requirements you qualify to end your ad with the phrase, "Equal Opportunity Employer."


Editor's Note: Watch for the second part of our recruiting tips in two weeks, with Communicating Your Uniqueness of business and the "Action Lines" necessary to create great recruiting ads.