By Princess Jones

Good help is hard to find, but if you want to run a successful business, you need to figure out how to do it. Doing everything on your own is the quickest way to burning out.

The best way to find new employees is through word of mouth. Hiring someone who is familiar with your product or culture is always a plus. But if you have to start the search from scratch, you’ll probably be writing a job ad. Job ads are only as successful as the words you put into them. Don’t make a mistake that might cost you time and money.

Be Specific

Finding a new employee is not exactly like throwing a net into the ocean and taking whatever comes back. You get a lot of trash and unusable things that way. If we’re gonna go fishing, we want to put out specific bait and catch something we really, really want. Being specific in your ad will help that.

At the very least, your ad should contain the pay rate (or range, if you’re flexible) and the skills the applicant must have to get the job. It’s also a good idea to mention skills that put applicants on the top of the list and anything that would rule them altogether.

Let’s say you run a 24-hour cupcake shop and you need some overnight help. There is no point in posting any job ad that doesn’t mention that a successful candidate for this position must be willing to work from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Sure it might limit your prospects, but it’s better to get a small pool of targeted prospects than to get a giant pool of people who won’t fit the position.

Focus on Benefits Over Features

Hiring help is a two-way competition. Prospects are competing to get the position, but your business is also competing to bring in the best talent available. Your job posting isn’t just competing with your competitors’ postings. It’s also competing with any ad targeted to anyone with the same set of skills. The more skilled workers you’re looking for, the more competitive the process will be.

If you want to stand out in a sea of competitors, emphasize the benefits of the position over the features of the position. The difference is that features are about what the facts of the position and benefits are how those facts make the applicant’s life easier. For example, you might allow flexible work arrangements, or unlimited work from home days for your employees. That’s can be a really competitive perk, and you should definitely list that in your ad.

However, you’re better off emphasizing that workers can choose their own work environment rather than that they can work anywhere. One way makes it seem like workers have some agency in their work and the other makes it sound like they are expected to always be working, regardless of where they happen to be. Both may be a little bit true, but you need to emphasize the benefits for a successful ad.

Include a Clear Call to Action

Have you noticed that writing a job ad is a lot like writing a product ad? Good! That means you’re paying attention. And like any other ad, it’s important to include a call to action in the copy. Calls to action are just instructions for the reader. They should lead the reader to do what you want to happen next.

In a product ad, you might tell the reader to log onto your website for a free product demonstration. In a job ad, you’ll need to tell the reader how to apply for the position. If you’re using job sites like Indeed or, your call to action might involve their site’s application process. You could also handle it all in-house and ask the applicants to call or email you. Just make sure it’s clear what they should do and how to take the next steps.

What have you found works best for attracting the best candidates in your job ads?

Photo credit: Newspaper showing job ads from Maxx-Studio/Shutterstock