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How to write a great job ad

When looking for staff to join a small team, your job advert is your first chance to attract the best candidates. What you say in a few hundred words will usually be the first impression job seekers make of you and your organisation.

One study suggests 20% of job hunters are put off applying for a role with an unclear job description – so it’s important you get it right.

Whilst it might take a bit more time writing a more detailed advert, it will save you time in the long run. Just imagine having to sift through fewer applications, but with better suited candidates – any manager’s dream.

There’s a pretty basic formula which we would suggest that you follow and make sure to include in your job posting.

  • Job title
  • Salary band
  • Location
  • Information on you or your organisation
  • Role and responsibilities
  • Person specification (qualifications and skills)

Here’s a little more detail on what’s required for each section.

1. Job Title

A good job title is the best way to attract the right candidate.

Don’t try and be too creative, this can often turn candidates off. We would recommend trying to be specific as possible. If possible use recognisable words, such as ‘press secretary’, ‘head of policy’ or ‘parliamentary researcher/ assistant’, as people use our search function and use common job titles. Using seniority, such as ‘junior’ or ‘senior’ to give greater specificity can often help.

2. Salary

Having hired many staff over the years I understand the desire to be discreet when it comes to salaries, but when looking for staff it’s really helpful to give some indication of salary.

Firstly, it’s respectful to candidates to be as open as possible with them considering they could be putting in hours perfecting their CV and cover letter. But importantly for you, it will limit the people that apply, helping guide people with the right level of experience to your role. Finally, jobs with salary bands included rate higher on google jobs, ensuring more coverage for your job.

If you work for an MP, go the extra mile, instead of just using the usual jargon, “in line with IPSA pay scales”, have a look HERE  and actually detail what the salary band is.

3. Location

Again, specificity will limit irrelevant applications. The Westminster Jobs platform also allows you to select a remote location, important with more roles every day being able to be undertaken remotely. As with including salary, a more specific location (down to the postcode) will help your ad rate better on google jobs.

4. Information on your organisation

Even if you’re a well-known MP, organisation or company think of this section as your pitch to potential clients. Just a few lines about your main activities, history, values and why you would be great to work for will usually do the trick. On the Westminster Jobs portal this section is found on your company profile section, so you don’t have to write it for every job you post in the job description.

5. Role and responsibility

The intro

It’s always nice to include a short introduction, and make it about them, not you (this is an ad after all). An example might be: “Are you wanting to work for an organisation that puts its values before profits? Make a difference as the Head of Communications in this quickly expanding company.”

The role in 50 words or less

This section should include keywords to help candidates know right from the beginning if the role is the right fit for them. High level role description, and key skills or experience needed should be included. An example might be: “We have an exciting opportunity for a political professional to join our small office as a Senior Parliamentary Researcher. This permanent role would be well suited to someone with 2-3 years’ experience working for an MP (w4mp) wanting to grow and manage a small office.”

The purpose of the role

This details the outcomes or the set goals you want from the role. It helps the candidate imagine what all their hard work will actually be achieving. An example might be: “The successful candidate will lead a 3 year national campaign to see our policy priorities incorporated into primary legislation.”

Responsibilities

Here it’s important to give detail on what are the usual activities undertaken in order to achieve the purpose you’ve already outlined. Listing a few of the major responsibilities is usually a good idea. Maybe even breaking them up into key themes can help make the ad clearer.

Giving clear, detailed responsibilities sets expectations early, ensuring candidates know what’s they’re signing up for. If you work for an MP (w4mp) this guide HERE helps you with many of the tasks required for the various roles in the office.

6. Person specification (qualifications and skills)

A clear, concise person specification will help reduce dramatically the amount of irrelevant applications you receive. In this section think about things like:

  • Education
  • Years’ experience
  • Management experience
  • Soft skills
  • Networks and contacts

You can split this into essential and desirable if you are willing to settle for less in some areas.

So you’ve written a killer job post, here’s a few things to consider before going live on Westminster Jobs

  • Spelling and grammar – remember people are judgy, just as you are when reading CVs and cover letters (any pick-ups of errors on this blog are warmly welcome )
  • Use small paragraphs, dot points, numbered points, bold headings, underlined headings – whatever necessary to break up dense matter
  • Try to leave out unnecessary jargon, it can be very off-putting

Westminster Jobs is the place for jobs in public affairs, MPs’ offices, communications, policy, campaigns and politics. We offer free basic job postings to help you reach thousands of qualified candidates. The jobs you post on Westminster Jobs appear on our partner sites, Google Jobs, Adzuna and the JobG8 network. When you’re posting your job you can choose to manage, track and message applicants through your employer dashboard – making the recruitment process easier. Register HERE today and get that great new staff member.

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