4 mistakes you’re making when advertising a job vacancy

5 minutes
Samantha Johnston

By Samantha Johnston

A well-crafted job advertisement plays a pivotal role in attracting the right candidates. It sets the stage for a successful candidate experience and ultimately contributes to making informed hiring decisions. Many people accept roles based on what they have learnt and researched as part of the application and interview process, therefore making it critical that the true working environment, working conditions, and nature and responsibilities of the role have been accurately described and portrayed throughout the hiring process, which often starts with a job advert.

Are your adverts attracting the right candidates? Here are 4 mistakes you might be making. Don’t worry, they can be easily fixed!

1 - You’re not advertising the salary at all, or the salary range is too vague. 

Not advertising any salary at all will deter candidates from applying. 

Most candidates won’t even consider applying for a role that doesn’t have an advertised salary, and why should they? 

By including salary information, you’ll demonstrate transparency and honesty. Candidates appreciate knowing the compensation range before investing time and effort in the application process. It sets a positive tone for your organisation and brand and shows you value your employees’ time and want to establish a fair and respectful hiring process. 

You’ll attract candidates who are genuinely interested in the offered compensation, reducing the likelihood of attracting applicants who aren’t a good fit due to misaligned salary expectations and ultimately saving time and resources.

Clearly stating the salary can attract a more diverse range of candidates as it reduced the potential for bias and wage discrimination and gaps. Candidates from different backgrounds and experience can make informed decisions about how well the salary aligns with their needs. 

Many organisations advertise using a salary range. But there is no point specifying a range if you automatically offer at the lowest level and candidates are unaware. If a salary range is indicated, be clear about the criteria that will be used to decide on the salary being offered. This will make for a more efficient and streamlined negotiation process.
 At TPP, we believe all roles should always be advertised with a salary or rate, whether that is a starting salary or a range and as such we are signed up to the #showthesalary campaign.

2 - You haven’t listed any benefits or what it’s like to work for your organisation 

This is especially valuable in the non-profit sector; you may be a small charity and not able to compete on salary, but the offer of flexible working or other benefits could entice the right candidates to apply. In the non-profit sector, candidates are often motivated by a cause and want to make a difference and so promoting your mission, vision and values can be an incredibly powerful tool and will give you the best chance to attract suitable candidates. Remember, annual leave is not a benefit. Differentiate between entitlements and benefits to show you understand the importance of a good benefits package.   
Avoid vague phrases like 'competitive benefits' ‘training and development available', ‘flexible working options’. Similar organisations may offer more competitive packages so undertaking benchmarking and listing specific benefits will back up your claim. If you have listed flexible working, which is a common motivator for candidates looking to move jobs, be clear about what this looks like and whether this is open to further discussion.

Candidates want to and benefit from visualising what it will be like to work for your organisation and in the relevant team. Describe this in the advertisement by using statements like “supportive environment” or “inclusive culture” ensuring you can back these up, ideally with the use of employee testimonials or quotes which can be very powerful. 

They also want to know how you’ll help them achieve their career goals, future plans or growth potential and your mission, values and vision to ensure they’re aligned with what you’re offering. 

3 - Your advertisement and/or job description is too detailed and complex

Too many responsibilities and complex sentences will put people off applying. It’s important to find the balance between keeping sentences concise and easy to read but defined enough so that the candidate understands what the job fully involves. 

Do not fall into the trap of recycling old job adverts, job descriptions and person specifications! Things change and it’s important to design all vacant roles within the context of current internal and external factors and conditions. 

Principals of successful role design suggest that the responsibilities of the role should be summarised in no more than 5 bullet points. They also say that essential criteria are what the employee needs to be able to do the job from day one. 

Scrap the desirable list. Rather than this "nice to have" list, include what will be taught/will be expected to have learned by the end of month 3, month 6, month 12. This way, the applicant can clearly see expectations and their growth in the role instead of being put off by a skill they don’t have but can easily learn on the job. 

Lengthy adverts with complicated application processes will also create barriers preventing applications from a diverse pool of talent. Ensure your advert is written using inclusive language, avoiding unnecessary essentials, and including a simplified, accessible, and clear application process. 

Further reading: 6 simple steps to successful role design

4 - You didn’t ask for help!

Partnering with a specialist recruitment agency can help you set your advert apart and stand out from the crowd.   

Recruiters at TPP are specialists in the non-profit and public sectors. We keep in touch with sector development and market conditions that impact on the recruitment market, which means we can support you with a tailored approach, to ensure you’re attracting the candidates you want to apply for your vacancies. 

We can benchmark salaries or benefits packages, advise on how to attract candidates for niche roles, provide role design expertise, advise on inclusive recruitment practices, and current market changes. When you partner with TPP, you can be confident that our adverts will be constructed to attract the best possible talent for your vacancies. 

If you would like more information on the above points or would like to discuss any recruitment matters, you can contact me at danielle.tramontin@tpp.co.uk or on 020 7198 6090 

  • info@tpp.co.uk
  • 020 7198 6000
  • TPP Recruitment, Northern & Shell Building, 4th Floor, 10 Lower Thames Street, London, EC3R 6AF