Attract Better Hires by Employing These Three Tips for Writing Want Ads

Create clear, compelling ads that show a path to success, experts advise.

Attract Better Hires by Employing These Three Tips for Writing Want Ads

With a shrinking workforce and generational transition, being able to write an effective want ad has never been more important. Here are three recommendations from experts to improve your ads so they bring in better candidates.

1. Clarity is key
While it’s important to make your company stand out, don’t sacrifice clarity for creativity. Too much creativity can be a turn-off for applicants, making them feel unsure of the role or even underqualified. “Too much creativity is a negative," says Mark Barnard, president of SnapDragon, a New Hampshire-based recruiting agency. "Why use words when you can use a picture? Be clear and concise—the shorter the better.” Rocky Geans, former president of L.L. Geans Construction in Mishawaka, Ind., for 40 years and now a consultant to remodelers, says over-creative ads can sometimes “make people feel like they’re not qualified, and not enough people apply.”

2. Compel the applicant
You need to make your job desirable. Barnard compares this to a “cover of a book," saying “you need to compel the reader to actually read on.” This means advertising things like company culture, growth potential, and benefits. Barnard notes culture is of special importance to millennials, saying “everything they learn these days is team-based, and they want to be sure they’re joining an exciting team.” Inform the applicant of whatever values your company has. Says Geans, “We made sure to always tell them we were family friendly, that family was No. 1.”

3. Provide a path to success
Given the current employment climate, construction firms have to work harder than most industries in attracting employment. One strategy Geans and Barnard both agree on is highlighting a path to success. “Employees have all the leverage now," Geans says. “If you know what you’re doing you can come out of high school, debt-free, and start making great money right away.” Barnard wants ads to tell success stories of people in the industry, remarking “I always say we have great stories in construction but no one tells them.” He cites as an example Manny Pina, who worked his way up from a general manager of a truss company to president of National Lumber in under 20 years.

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