What to consider before writing a job ad

A clear, concise and well-written job ad can make all the difference when you’re hiring a new team member.

And before you put fingers to keyboard and start drafting up a job description, there are three important steps to take first.

Considering the skills you’re looking for, the must-haves versus nice-to-haves, and the salary range in advance can help you create a job ad that’s effective and appealing to people.

Here’s what to work through before you start writing.

1. Identify the skills you need

Whether you’re replacing a team member or recruiting for a new position, start by looking at your business needs and making sure the role aligns with those goals.

“Clearly define the role and what a successful outcome would look like,” explains Edmond Pang, director of permanent recruitment at Adecco. Perhaps you’re looking to increase sales, add a particular skillset to your team or share the load across several staff as your business grows.

Next, identify core skills and competencies. Pang suggests dividing these into two main categories: hard and soft skills. “Hard skills are the technical or functional abilities required to perform the job, while soft skills are the interpersonal, communication or behavioural competencies needed to work well with others, like teamwork, leadership or problem-solving,” he says.

It can also be helpful to do a skills gap analysis – highlight the skills you already have in the business and which ones are missing. Once you start receiving applications, this will help you evaluate candidates on abilities and competencies, rather than education and experience. “Doing this has been shown to increase the quality of your hires, expand your talent pool and improve employee retention,” Pang says.

2. Decide on the must-haves

Finding candidates who meet a long list of criteria can reduce your options when you’re hiring. So, it’s helpful to carefully consider what’s essential for the role and where you’re prepared to be flexible.

Pang recommends focusing on skills over qualifications. “Having or not having a degree or qualification was often the deal-breaker when selecting a candidate for a role. Things have changed and increasingly skills and experience are being favoured over education,” he says.

“Qualifications in many roles are therefore becoming less and less of a deciding factor. Of course, a lawyer must pass the bar and an engineer must be a registered professional. But across many industries a qualification isn’t necessarily an indication the candidate is right for the job or an indicator of success in the role.”

3. Settle on a salary and benefits

Just as salary matters to someone looking for a new role, it’s equally important for employers to offer a salary that will attract the most relevant people for the job.

Pang says some factors to consider when determining a salary range are market surveys, which provide a good indication for pay rates for similar positions in similar industries, and market factors like the availability of jobs, the number of available candidates for a particular job or number of employers looking for the same skills.

“When you’re determining the budget available for each role, start by assessing the value of the position and responsibilities involved, and conduct thorough wage research to ensure what you’re offering is fair and within industry standards,” he says.

Interestingly, perks and benefits are as important – and sometimes more important – than the salary itself, so consider what else you’re prepared to offer new hires.

“Work-life balance and mental health are top of mind for many employees, so flexibility around work hours and location are two of the top perks candidates look for,” Pang says. “Many will be more loyal and feel prouder of where they work if they have meaningful perks.”

Before you start writing your job ad, think about the essential skills your team needs, the areas you can compromise on and the salary and perks you're ready to put on the table. Working through this first will make the job ad writing process more straightforward – and help you find the right person for the role.

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