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How to write a recruitment advert

Taking on a new employee can be a challenge for a small business. It’s crucial that you find the right person. We look at how to put together your advert for maximum effect.

In this article

If you want to recruit new staff and your business isn’t big enough to have an in-house HR professional, you can either outsource to a recruitment agency or take on the task yourself.

Be honest with yourself about whether you’ve got the skills and understanding to find the right person to add to your team. Replacing members of staff can cost more than £30,000 per employee, according to a 2014 survey by Oxford Economics, and taking on the wrong candidate could cost you more in the long run. It literally pays to get it right, and that starts with the recruitment advert.

You need to attract applicants by clearly laying out:

  • the benefits of the position
  • the positive reasons to join your business in particular
  • opportunities available to successful candidates
  • how to find out more information if needed.

Above all, you want to try to communicate something of the personality of your business, and come across as professional but welcoming. Use ‘you’ and ‘your’ rather than ‘we’ and ‘our’, as though you’re inviting candidates into your business.

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Placing your job ad correctly

You might want to carry out some research into where people in your industry typically recruit. If you’re part of a business network, then some of your peers might have useful advice. Look for similar recruitment advertising. Where do your competitors advertise? This should give you some indication about where to start and what payment to offer.

If you’re recruiting online, then there are job boards such as Monster or Total Jobs, LinkedIn for professionals, and Gumtree, which covers a wide range of roles including manual and unskilled roles. You need to ensure you’re advertising in the right place - there’s little point looking for a removals porter on LinkedIn, or a solicitor on Gumtree.

Steps to a successful recruitment advert

1. Get the job title right

Be clear about what role you are recruiting for, and use the job title that’s most likely to attract people with relevant skills. For example, if you want someone to manage the administration and running of your business, be clear whether you want an administration manager, business manager or an operations manager – each of these job titles will reflect slightly different roles and responsibilities.

2. Write a clear summary of the job

Leading on from the basic job title, people want to know what the role involves. Include who the person will report to, and where they will fit within the business. Keep this short so people can quickly establish whether this role is right for them.

Be clear about exactly what you are offering in terms of hours or days each week, whether the role is full or part time, and if flexible working is possible. Will you need your employee to work weekends or antisocial hours? All of this should be clearly laid out here.

3. Specify role responsibilities and skills required

Choose four or five of the main tasks that will make up the bulk of the role, and list them. Link them to business targets if possible – for example, for an administrative role you could list: ‘Manage customer databases to improve customer communications.’ You don’t need to cover everything, just enough to give people an idea of what’s involved, so you’re attracting the right candidates.

List the skills and qualifications you’re looking for. If appropriate, you can split these into lists of ‘must have’ and ‘desirable’ skills or qualifications, to let people know what are your essential criteria. Be realistic – most candidates won’t have every skill you’re looking for, and an exhaustive list of ‘must haves’ could put off some strong candidates.

4. Give candidates a reason to apply to your business

Money is not the only reason people choose a particular employer. Working conditions are equally important to many candidates. Take the opportunity to expand on who you are, what you do, what your working style is and what sort of person you’re looking for.

Give people a reason to want to work for you in particular – what can the business offer any potential employees? Is it the environment, the opportunity to learn, work with great people, receive a great benefits package, or elements of all of these? Spell this out so you stand out to the best candidates.

5. Get the salary right

You need to know what the going rate is for the role you’re advertising. Look at what your competitors are offering, as well as what you have previously offered for that role.

You must offer at least the minimum wage, as detailed below (rates correct from April 2018).


25 and over

21 to 24

18 to 20

Under 18








But it’s up to you where you want to pitch rates of pay. Paying more may well help attract better candidates, but of course it’s a balancing act, as you’ve got to keep an eye on the bottom line.

Find out more about the National Minimum Wage on the Gov.uk site.

6. Tell candidates how to apply

If the ad is going online, then an ‘apply’ button linking through to an application form on your website is one method that helps people apply easily.

If you’d rather people wrote or emailed, specify how you’d like to receive their application, and what additional information you’d like in the form of CVs or covering letters. Include the relevant address details, along with a closing date.

Looking for a job can feel like a job in itself, as it’s so time consuming. Try to keep your communications brief and to the point. Make it obvious early on what the job is, how much you’re paying and what skills you require, so people who aren’t qualified or who won’t be interested can avoid wasting their time.

Experience makes the process of writing job adverts easier, but try to keep each advert individual rather than copying and pasting. Taking time to think about who you’re trying to appeal to each time will keep your adverts feeling fresh, and hopefully help find the right person for your business.

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[1] http://www.hrreview.co.uk/hr-news/recruitment/it-costs-over-30k-to-replace-a-staff-member/50677