Writing Great Job Ads to Attract AMAZING Hires
The perfect job candidate is out there somewhere, but how do you find that person and get them to apply for your open position? Better yet, how do you find several seemingly perfect candidates and get them all to apply, so you can select the best of the best? The secret is in your job ad.
Writing a great job ad is a skill any doctor or manager can learn. To make it more straightforward, here’s a comprehensive list of the elements you must include, and why.
Know What You Want
It sounds obvious to say you must know the traits of the ideal candidate before you hire, so you’ll recognize them when you see them. However, many managers hurry past this all-important step.
To clarify who you’re searching for, list essential and preferred skills, qualities, experience, and abilities. This includes everything from necessary certifications to a strong work ethic and promptness. If your list gets too long, prioritize, and then pepper your ad with the qualities you deem most important.
… And Know What You Don’t Want
If you’ve recently had an employee in this position not work out, identify which skills and abilities were missing. The best way to do this is to pinpoint precisely what went wrong last time: the qualities you don’t want. Then, convert those into their opposites: the attributes you DO want in your next hire. Make sure those are on your list. For example, if your last front receptionist was always late and lacked follow-through, include items like, “This position requires someone who is always on time, if not early, and who enjoys following through on details.”
It’s surprising how refining your mental image of the candidate(s) you’re looking for, and reimagining qualities you don’t want into the positive attributes you need, can help achieve greater clarity in your search. (It will also help you pinpoint what to focus on and which questions to ask later on, during the interview stage.)
Update the Job Description First
Before writing each new job ad, make sure your job description for the open position is up to date and includes the most critical of the skills and qualities you just identified. The job description is not the same as the ad you will write for the position—rather, great job ads should always be created directly from job descriptions.
A job description should reflect how the position fits into your practice. It should identify the essential job duties, set expectations for measuring performance, and establish the base requirements for the position as well as the physical necessities.
Having an up-to-date job description to reference makes it much easier to ensure you include all relevant details in your job ad. This helps you advertise in a way that is accurate yet non-discriminatory (more about this in a moment), and speaks directly to your best-fit applicants.
Include the Position Title in the Job Ad Header
Start your new ad with a descriptive header that includes the position title. Applicants need to be able to find your ad through popular job search engines, so the header must include the title most appropriate to the position, rather than something overly catchy (“Scheduling Superstar,” for instance) that no qualified applicant would think to search for. Using standard titles also helps give your posting a natural SEO value.
Keep in mind that many job searchers will only see your ad title and the first few words, and will pass over listings that are too general or sound too dull. Your header and introductory sentence should be clear but not boring.
Include What’s Essential—Without Discriminating
Describe the job, and list its essential duties and the requirements of the position. As you do so, keep it legal! Take care to avoid language that may exclude qualified applicants based on age, ability, or any other protected status.
Even physical requirements must truly be necessary for the position. Don’t specify a “young and energetic” front desk assistant—those qualities aren’t necessarily found together—nor require an “ability to lift 100 lb.” for a billing specialist. Include that you are an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE).
Likewise, include any certification, experience, or education needed, while focusing on what the position truly requires. Medical or dental assistants do need to prove certification, for instance, but it’s discriminatory to ask janitorial applicants to have a college degree.
Strive for Clarity & Don’t Be Shmancy
As you describe the job and its duties, be concise and use clear language. Use bulleted lists to make reading your ad quick and easy, and to emphasize key tasks.
A touch of creativity is OK, but don’t be confusing, vague, or overly formal/clever. You’ll get better results by sticking to the point, and using language that is sincere and values applicants’ time.
Include Pay Range & Benefit Info
To attract the best of the best, you should know what they’re worth (after all, they do!) and make sure your offer is reasonably competitive. Applicants often pass over job ads that don’t include information about pay. If the position is new, do some research to determine what’s appropriate or expected in your area.
To give yourself some flexibility, advertise a range of pay rather than a specific rate: $16-$20 DOE, for instance. A highly promising but less experienced candidate might be willing to work for less, while one with strong qualifications and years of experience might justifiably expect and require more if you want them to pick your practice over the numerous other options they have available.
Many strong candidates actively search for jobs with benefits (health insurance, paid time off, retirement plans, and so forth), so if your practice offers those, you should definitely mention it. You do not need to go into great detail, just expect questions once candidates get to the interview stage.
Don’t Forget the Details
Aside from pay and benefits, include any other details applicants will need to know, or that will differentiate your listing in positive ways from their other options.
- Include the city and state where your job is located, especially if you have multiple offices.
- If the location is especially convenient for many people (near transit options, right off the freeway, etc), or is in a coveted or interesting area, include those points in your favor.
- Include the position’s level of responsibility: Will the employee report directly to the owner/doctor, to the office manager, or to the front office team lead?
- If this is an especially good entry level position or one with strong potential for advancement, include that.
Generate Enthusiasm & Desire
It’s easy to think of applicants as vying with each other for your open position, and eventually they will, but at this stage YOU are competing for THEIR attention. It’s up to you to make your company sound great to work for, so you attract the best of the best candidates.
Don’t misrepresent or over-inflate the company or the position — you won’t land a happy new hire under false pretenses. Instead, describe the best aspects of the position with enthusiasm.
What’s in it for them? What differentiates your practice, or makes this job better than similar jobs at other companies? Is your focus or patient base special? Will the new hire get to work on interesting projects or with exciting new technology? Is your team culture the best you’ve ever known? Do you close at 5 p.m., with no weekend work? Make sure the good points shine through your ad!
Inspire Ideal Candidates to Apply Right Now
Make it clear this opportunity won’t last long, and provide an easy way to apply for your job posting immediately. By this point, you want to have generated enough enthusiasm that cream-of-the-crop job-seekers will apply for your job first and treat your opportunity preferentially.
Additionally, include a way for job-seekers to opt in to your “talent network,” meaning you will keep their information on file and may re-contact strong applicants about future positions. This may help keep your practice front-of-mind for good candidates who wind up being your second or third choices, or who would make excellent employees but just don’t fit your current need.
Kaboom: Your Secret Weapon
Finally, use a secret weapon to help your strongest prospects stand out from the crowd. Applicants who pay attention and follow directions are more likely to want to work for your practice in particular—and to apply a great work ethic once there. To weed out job-seeking zombies who are just clicking every “apply” button they see, provide simple, yet multi-step instructions for applicants to follow.
This could be two questions for applicants to answer in their cover letter and a specific subject line for their email, or something else of your choosing. Those who fulfill your instructions AND have resumes with strong qualifications will be your strongest contenders. If you’re short on great responses but have otherwise-promising people piled up, give them one more chance to impress you—even all-star applicants miss something occasionally—but don’t hold your breath.
From Today to Infinity, Get Better Each Time You Hire
Creating compelling job ads is just one step toward better hiring, and you’ll want to use it with a multitude of other steps, from phone and in-person behavioral interviews, to skills testing for your best candidates, to a professional background check of your new hire at the appropriate time. There are few shortcuts to a successful new hire—but by NOT skipping steps, you’ll save countless hours and tens-of-thousands of dollars (at a minimum) in mistakes avoided.
Creating an amazing job ad is always the right beginning to a sound hiring process, and it’s a step you can learn to execute with greater confidence each time. There are thousands of talented candidates out there just waiting for challenging, rewarding opportunities like yours. Tailor your ad to speak directly to them, don’t skip any of the essentials listed here, and give the process time to work. You and your new employee will find each other soon.