Job Ads Suck (Mostly)

We don’t use job ads much, but when we do, here’s a little sample of what we have to wade through…

Dear [InsertNameHere], please consider my application for [jobrole] at [CompanyName]. I have 5 years’ experience as a customer service representative.

Actual job application for a CMO role

Dear Sir / Madam, I am writing in reference to your job ad for a CRM manager in Buckinghamshire. While I do not live in Buckinghamshire nor do I have experience in CRM, I would like to offer my services remotely.

Slightly paraphrased application for a CRM manager role that clearly stated it was on-site

Oh, you get the picture.

We’ve all been there. We’ve posted a job ad, and within minutes we’re receiving applicants from many miles away who would like to work very remotely, or we’re getting applicants we’ve somehow seen before, and discarded because they didn’t read the job ad.

And yet occasionally, you do get a great CV through a job ad. It may take a week or two of waiting around, which feels remarkably like gambling. And in some cases, your job ad can produce several good CVs.

So the questions are:

  • Why bother using job ads at all – isn’t there a better way?
  • When is it good to use a job ad?
  • What does a good job ad look like anyway?


Why bother?

It does feel like a gamble, especially for digital marketing roles which require quite specific skills and capabilities:

  • industry experience
  • b2b, b2c, dtc, b2b2c, etc.
  • platform experience
  • cultural fit
  • evidence of KPIs & metrics
  • proximity to your office

That’s a lot to need from an applicant. Indeed, you may already have narrowed down your candidate field to just a hundred people, yet you don’t know if those hundred people are going to apply or not.

Rather, shouldn’t you profile those hundred people and – as marketers would – go find them and pitch them in a personal manner? (this is what we do, btw)

When is it good to use a job ad?

Perhaps this is the differentiator, then. Many of the roles we work on across digital marketing have a number of requirements that narrow the field down significantly.

And yes, we can look at our field and say – we’ll discount this factor if they’re strong in that one, or we’ll focus in on that factor and accommodate in different ways. You can be flexible, but if you’re a B2B SaaS company looking for a Head of Marketing with specific experience in digital GTM strategies for SaaS products, working on-site in Reading, well – how many candidates do you think you realistically have access to?

If your field is more flexible, then a job ad can open you up to many different possibilities.

Let’s say Social Media Executives, for instance. I’m not saying they’re ten-a-penny, but if you’re not fussed about their background and you ideally want a couple of years’ experience handling communities or creating content, your available candidate market is a) bigger and b) more active.

A job ad might well do the trick here.

What does a good job ad look like, anyway?

As marketers, we’re always looking at copy. So it’s peculiar that so many marketing job ads are bland and generic, with phrases such as:

  • “Fantastic opportunity”
  • “Eye for detail”
  • “We’re looking for…”

It gets to the point that all job ads seem to be for the same job.

So remembering our role as marketers, we have to ‘market’ the opportunity and stand out from the crowd. Here’s what you should be thinking about:

  • What would persuade somebody to leave their role and join my company?
  • What is exciting about this role?
  • What is the career pathway you can offer somebody?
  • What are the daily challenges that make this role better than what they’re doing at the moment?

Focus primarily on what will persuade someone to ditch their current employer, and keep it succinct. Short sentences. Short paragraphs.

And why not post your job ad as a TikTok? Especially if your audience is Gen Z and they’re most likely spending a considerable amount of time following TikTok workplace influencers. Times move on, and in a year or two we may be introduced to TikJob or something like that.

But remember, a job ad is often a shot in the dark, especially when you’re advertising to thousands of people when you only have a potential field of 100 people you really want to speak to. Are you OK with sifting through tonnes of irrelevant CVs? Or would you prefer to take a slightly different approach and find the 100?

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