A job ad needs to be specifically crafted to attract the right people and pull talented team members towards your organization.

Get this wrong, and you could dissuade prospective employees from applying in the first place, and even hurt the reputation of your business.

The key is knowing what job ad mistakes others make when writing job ads, and taking steps to avoid them. Here are the major errors to look out for, and what you can do to deal with them in your own ads.

Job Ad Mistakes

Photo by Anna Shvets

Mistake #1: Typos and Spelling Errors

Making typos and spelling errors in job adverts is a common mistake that can easily be avoided. The simple solution is for HR professionals to take care when writing job ads. Double-check information and watch out for any potential issues such as grammar or syntax problems.

To ensure accuracy, use a spell checker and also enlist a colleague to read through your post before publishing it.

Additionally, use active voice throughout to make your text easier to scan and understand at a glance. This helps candidates quickly decide whether they’re interested in the role, without needing further clarification on what’s involved within each section of the description itself.

Keep sentences short too. Long blocks of text are more likely to contain typos, so breaking them up into smaller chunks makes them easier to catch.

Mistake #2: Lack of Detail

Detailing the requirements of a role, and what experience you’re looking for in prospective candidates, can be make or break when it comes to attracting the right people.

If a job advert is too vague or doesn’t contain enough information, applicants will have no idea if they are suitable for the position or not. 

Here’s what you need to mention:

  • List all essential qualifications, skills and experience required to perform the role well, along with any desired traits that would benefit someone in their application.
  • Include details about working hours and salary expectations. This will help manage each candidate’s expectations from day one.
  • Explain how you want them to apply. Should they send resumes, include a cover letter, or take an online test to progress?

Don’t be ambiguous, but provide all pertinent info upfront. This ensures there’s clarity on expected applications, which makes life easier for everyone. With an average of 118 applications for a typical job listing according to EarthWeb, this is also an efficient filtering tactic that saves you time.

Mistake #3: Unclear Requirements

Speaking of clarity, it’s worth emphasizing that a job ad should be as precise and concise as possible to ensure prospective candidates fully understand the role they are applying for. 

Let’s go over what this involves:

  • Break down each requirement into bullet points or numbered lists to avoid confusion. This makes it easier to scan and comprehend immediately.
  • Create a few sentences outlining what the day-to-day responsibilities will look like if someone gets hired. This allows potential employees to visualize themselves in the position, which could increase applications.
  • Add an FAQ section where people can quickly find answers about anything else related to their application, such as travel arrangements or relocation policies where relevant.

Doing these things will help provide clarity on available roles, whilst also ensuring your post isn’t overstuffed with information to the detriment of readability. An Eightfold AI study recently found that 17% of workers have held off applying for roles over the past year and a half due to job descriptions encumbered by vagueness, or which left them confused. This reinforces the significance of making your ads clear.

Mistake #4: Outdated Language & Tone

When crafting job adverts, the language and tone used can have a big impact on attracting (or deterring) applicants. Outdated terminology or overly formal phrasing could put off prospective candidates. Instead you should aim for a modern voice that speaks to today’s workforce. 

Here’s how to do that:

  • Focus on using active words throughout your post, such as ‘develop’, ‘collaborate’, ‘engage’ and so forth. This draws people in, provides information directly, and gives them a sense of the dynamic nature of your organization and their potential role within it.
  • Write in the present tense where possible. This makes everything appear more immediate, which is a way of compelling any potential employees to act fast, rather than procrastinating over submitting an application.
  • Don’t forget about humor either. Adding some lightheartedness into certain sections of your advert can help create an inviting atmosphere, which will draw attention from suitable individuals who are looking for something different from typical corporate roles.

This is especially important if you’re committed to closing the gap between the genders, specifically in terms of the roles that are applied for and occupied by women. CIO reports that just 28% of people working in tech-related roles are female, in spite of the fact that women account for 47% of employees across all sectors nationally.

Final Thoughts

If a job advert is free from typos, full of relevant information, clear on what’s required of candidates, and written to gel with the sensibilities and expectations of modern workers, it’s a winner.

Of course creating an ad that ticks all these boxes is a skill you’ll need to acquire over time. Reflecting on past job ad mistakes is a good way to learn how to avoid them in the future, so don’t be afraid to go back and look at previous job listings you’ve posted to see where there’s room for improvement.