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Jamie Lawrence


Insights Director

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Thinking outside the box with your job advertisements in 2013


This article was written by Liz Strama, CEO of HR Protected, which provides a full range of HR services and support.

It is a competitive world out there, and more than ever companies are turning to new and innovative methods to entice potential candidates through their doors.

What can you offer a prospective employee?

Think perks, benefits and incentives. If you have something that sets you apart then advertise it. For example those lucky enough to work for Google have access to free haircuts in a mobile van, an on-site massage suite and gourmet food from the cafeteria.

Another company in Canada hold end-of-day meetings in a hot tub. Quicksilver allow employees to have a surfing break in good weather, Microsoft have wi-fi equipped buses to get their employees to the office and Netflix have a no vacation policy which means employees can have as much time off as they like providing their work is done.

Here is an example from NYC company ‘Meetups’ jobs page:

Oh, and one from Dropbox:


Ok, these examples are a little extreme but if you have something exciting in house or extracurricular to offer always tell a potential employee about it. On a slightly more manageable scale this could be a company healthcare scheme, flexi-time or child care vouchers. Next, the clothes retailer, make a point of advertising their unrivalled staff discounts and year-on-year holiday increases when they are recruiting.

QR Code Advertising

Not only do QR codes send out the message that your company is moving with the times but they can also save you a lot of hassle. If you are out at a job fair you could give out a QR code with job details on instead of a leaflet. Interested candidates can then read all about the role and apply simply by scanning the code.

You could also use QR codes in your newspaper adverts and internet based listings as well as sharing them round social sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Here are some examples from HP and MI5: 

Getting the title right

It would seem that corporate and stuffy job titles are on the way out. Seth Goldman, owner of Honest Tea, holds the title of TeaEO whilst the receptionist over at the Matrix Group is known as the First Impressions Officer. The former is a clever pun whilst the latter is a title that was given in order to describe the job role. In all honesty I think ‘First Impressions Officer’ really works in that it leaves the employee in no doubt of what they are there to do as well as conveying an attractive company ethos.

Whilst things like ‘Princess of Possibility’ might be a step to far, titles such as ‘Lead Product Evangelist’ (think Apple’s Guy Kawasaki) could work quite well for a marketing manager or ‘Chief Happiness Officer’ for a head of HR. Many employees in 2013 are looking for something new and creative and so updating your job titles to reflect the changing times could certainly help to attract a new kind of candidate.

Role out the responsibilities

Every good job description should include a list of responsibilities to help the candidate understand the role better. One of the biggest mistakes companies make here is listing far too many tasks. Stick to no more than 10 and make sure that they are all written as present tense ‘doing’ points: ‘drawing up distribution reports’ or ‘replying to customer service tweets’. This helps to give the description a pro-active feel and pull the reader into the thick of the action. As well as responsibilities you should also list the skills and qualifications you require, both mandatory and desirable. Try not to get carried away when it comes to listing desirable skills as some candidates may be put off by a long list.

Try to add a touch of creativity to your responsibility lists – like Metaweb have done:


Go colloquial

The type of language you use in your advertisements is very important. Many companies write job descriptions that the Queen would be proud of but that have little attraction to potential candidates. Here is another example from Meetup’s jobs page (brace yourself):

“Our team is ambitious and passionate; the environment is relaxed and fun. We get sh*t done that makes a difference.”

Imagine how you would verbally describe the position you want to advertise to a friend and write it down as you speak for something much less formal and much more true to real life.

Show and tell

The old saying tells us that pictures paint a thousand words and so why not spice up the company description in your job ad by throwing in an image or two? On their admin assistant job role page, Google has an image of their admin team (above). Who wouldn’t want to work in an office with sofas, games and brightly coloured balloons floating overhead? This picture conveys the company culture in one quick glance. Zynga even use pictures of their employees next to testimonials about how great the company is to work for.

If an image can do so much imagine the influence of a video on your jobs page. NASA have a video called ‘Careers: Women at NASA.’

To round up:

We have looked at lots of tips for creating modern job advertisements. Here is a quick summary of the main points:

  • Shout about yourself through text and images
  • Don’t be afraid to try something different
  • Embrace modern technology
  • At all times exude the personality of your company

Happy recruiting!

3 Responses

  1. The right context

     Thanks for your comments. The article is aimed at getting employers to think differently about recruitment. Communication in the workplace is changing, especially in companies where the average age of employees is fairly low. QR codes are widely used by some companies and industries, but hardly used at all in others. It’s about perspective – one size does not fit all! 

    I agree that the job titles do need to match your company philosophy – with regard to searching on job boards etc. a "standard" title can also be used in the text to help with the search facility. 

    I imagaine a solicitors firm that says "we get sh*t done" might very well appeal to a lot of people as a refreshing bit of straight talking! 

  2. The advice may be right in the correct context.

    Just a few observations about the practicality of the advice (rather than the creativity and excitement).

    • QR codes are not used that much in the UK but are great for Asia.
    • ‘Getting the right title’ is more than making it compelling. The right job title helps it be found in the first instance. If you use any of the job titles mentioned in online job boards/search engines you will likely get less response as applicants are highly unlikely to use a keyword search ‘Chief Happiness Officer’. Furthermore titles such as these are only relevant when it matches the company culture (eg. Innocent Drinks where CEO = Chief Entertainment Officer).
    • Colloquial is only relevant where the context is right. Can you imagine a solicitors saying "we get sh*t done"?
  3. Try Vine or Instagram

    I’ve seen some great job description videos on Vine and the opportunity just got even better now that you can create 15 second videos on Instagram. Ensure you include hastags too. 

    Thought provocative post Liz, thank you. 



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Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence