How to write a great technical job ad?

For a lot of people, a job ad is their gateway into your company. It’s the first touchpoint, the first interaction, the first impression. 

So make it count! 

Writing a great job ad is like writing excellent marketing, branding or sales material. You need to know the rules to be found and recognized, and to create conversion. Once you master the rules, you can get creative, showcase your company culture, and truly speak to the candidate. 

Make sure your job ad leaves the person craving for more. It’s not only active job seekers who browse job ads; we all do it every now and then, right? In addition to job seekers, the person browsing your job ads may be your potential future client, business partner or subcontractor. Leave a mark. 

As we are professionals in IT recruitment and direct search, we have seen and drafted thousands of job ads that need to appeal to technical talent. Here, I would like to share my top tips for a great technical job ad. 

1. Title – don’t get too savvy! 

We’ve probably all seen software/marketing/social media/HR/add-whatever-function ninjas as well as totally incomprehensible job titles like transparent-wall maintenance engineers.

The job title should reflect the job in the best way possible. It should also set the first expectation of the job at hand and, most of all, be understandable for the target audience. Especially for the talent you want to address. It is also important for the job to be easy to find SEO-wise. Trust me, your lead code wizard won’t be found as easily as a lead developer.

2. The about section – tell people why your company exists! 

Okay, so we have the right target audience reading our job ad. Next, you want to sell your company’s mission to the candidate. 

In short – what’s the problem you are trying to solve in this world? Why do you exist?

The whole point here is to make the candidate read further. But keep it short and sweet. Don’t blast your company presentation just yet, there’s time for it later. 

3. What’s in it for the candidate?

Now you want to connect your company’s mission to the daily life of your candidate. In a concrete way, tell the reader how they would contribute to this mission. How would they help solve the challenges your company is solving? What is the role all about?

4. Moving on from the big picture to the team level and individual level

The second paragraph is all about the team. People want to know who they get to work with. So let your reader meet the team. Finally, you want to make the person realize what their role in this team would be. 

As people follow people, and tech people highly value the possibility to learn from their peers, feel free to showcase some of their future guru colleagues! Insert their LinkedIn or Github profiles in the text. Want to get all creative? Add quotes from them in the text!

5. “Qualifications” – okay, please don’t use that word…

You want the right people to apply for the job, but the person reading the job ad also wants to know if he or she would be the right fit for the role. They want to know how to succeed in the role. So, instead of listing your company’s whole tech stack, make a list of absolute must-haves and nice-to-haves

Must-haves are the qualities that are absolutely essential for the job. Here’s a simple test for you to identify the must-haves: ask yourself, can the person do the job if they do not have any skills in Java programming? In case your product is built on Java, the answer is probably no, and you can add this to your must-haves. 

Here’s another one, more abstract: Can the person do the job without a university degree? The answer might be yes, they could, and in this case a university degree would not fall into the list of must-haves. 

Instead of ‘requirements’ or ‘qualifications’, try using something more inviting as a title for this section. Choose your tone and let it reflect your company culture, whether it’s more official or relaxed. Some great examples:

  • In order to succeed…
  • To rock the position…
  • To build a stellar product… 
  • We would love you to have…
  • Hell yeah, if you…

6. Buzzword section!

A nice extra touch for a tech role is to add buzzwords, so the candidate can easily check if this is interesting for him or her. 

Example buzzwords: AWS, Azure, GCP, Docker, Kubernetes, Java, Python, Go, C#, Terraform and Clojure.

7. EVP – Employer Value Proposition

Now you have gotten the candidate excited about your company, they know whether this role could be a good fit for them, and now you want to engage them a bit more. It’s time to tell the candidate what specifically is in it for them

This part is called your employer value proposition. It’s your promise to your current employees and newcomers, telling them what they’ll get if they join you? It’s typically designed for each core talent persona separately and consists of compensation, benefits, career, work environment, and culture. 

8. Company presentation

Now, this is the right place to present your company. If you managed to get the person reading until the end, they are interested in learning more! In this section you can pitch your company, tell about your values, mission, vision, headquarters, key numbers, office dogs, general perks and benefits, scope and all that jazz. 

9. Call-to-action! Convert them into your candidates

Last, but not the least, we want the person reading your job ad to do the most important thing – to indicate their interest towards this specific job! Modern marketing and sales trust in an omnichannel approach, and so should we. We need to make applying (= showing interest) as easy as possible. So set expectations, offer them multiple channels and keep your promises:

  • Set the right expectations – tell that applying will take them 30 seconds (and make sure it does!). If you ask the software developer reading your job ad to fill 7 pages on personal information OR even to send a CV – you’re out of the game! Click – click – click. That’s how easy it should be. 
  • Secondly, let them show interest any way they prefer. Whether it is offering your personal number/email address/Github/LinkedIn as a hiring manager or recruiter, do it! Remember, 30 seconds! 
  • And the most important thing – treat all your candidates in the best way possible.  A bad candidate experience travels far, and word-of-mouth is a fast medium – so make sure your candidates have only good things to say about you! Remember the golden trio of candidate communication – communication, time and feedback. 

Voilà! There you have it, a script for your tech job ad! 

Need help?

💡 Now, if you are interested in us checking all your candidate communication and recruitment materials, get in touch with Petra and tell her what you need help with! We’re happy to help. 😊