Job ad writing: How to write job ads that appeal to star employees

If job ad writing daunts you, you’re not alone! Job ad writing is a vital component in attracting the best applicants: the better the applicants, the more chance you have of finding that star employee.

Here is Recruit NZ’s guide to successful job ad writing…

6 steps to writing job ads that’ll attract the very best candidates

1. Refer to the Person Specification and Position Description you’ve already written

You did most of the work needed for job ad writing when you drafted the Person Specification and Position Description documents.

Get these documents in front of you, and highlight the key points you want to communicate in your job ad. This will save you a lot of time and headaches in the long run – and it will help you to hone in on the exact kind of person you’re looking for.

2. Do a bit of competitor research

Before you write anything yourself, have a look at recruitment websites to see what kind of things your competitors are writing in their ads.

Good places to start are Seek and TradeMe, as well as any specific recruitment sites for your niche.

Have a look to see what you like, and what you don’t like in competitors’ ads. You’ll find it a lot easier to start writing your job ad with some ideas in front of you.

Don’t copy competitors’ ads, but see how you can improve on what they’ve done. This kind of competitor research will provide you with ideas and inspiration.

3. Write a catchy headline

To get your ad to stand out against competitors’ ads – and to really hook that star candidate – you need to write a catchy headline for your job ad.

Example: If you’re recruiting for an accountant, it’s not enough for your headline to be “Accountant”. That just doesn’t cut it these days.

Instead, write something like: “Fancy drinks on Fridays, sea views and flexible hours? Our Chartered Accountancy Firm needs you!”

Remember, you are competing for the best employees, so it’s vital that your ad is appealing and gets noticed.

Compare job ad writing to real estate ads: you never see ads that say “House for sale”, instead the headlines mention the home’s biggest selling points. You need to do the same thing for your job ads.

4. What you should include in your job ad

Here’s a short checklist of what you should include in your job ad:

  • Company overviewWritten in such a way that it stands out against your competitors, and talk about where your company is heading.
  • Team: A sentence or two about the team.
  • Role: What an employee can expect, and what is expected of them.
  • Person: The type of person you’re looking for – try to be as specific as possible.
  • Package: Salary package, training, and any other benefits.
  • Call to action: So that people know how to apply. This should be at the bottom of the ad.

Keep all of that to one page: if it’s any longer than that, people will switch off.

5. What you shouldn’t write in your job ad

Do not write anything that can be classed as being discriminatory, e.g. age, sex, marital status, or religion. People can hold a grievance against you as an employer if they feel they were not successful in securing the role because there was a discriminatory factor against them.

6. Should you mention the salary on offer?

In New Zealand, it was very common to mention the salary on a job ad 5 to 10 years ago, but then employers didn’t like this to be visible.

However, when you load a job ad onto Seek or TradeMe, you have to include a salary bracket. This is because job seekers can search for jobs by title, location, salary band and keyword. So even though the salary may be invisible on your ad, your advertisement will only show up in certain searches.

If your business is offering a higher than average salary, it is worth mentioning the salary your offer in a visible way, because you will attract more applicants. Attracting more applicants means you get a wider candidate range to choose from, which increases your chances of finding that star employee.

7. Remember that it’s not just about the money…

Recent media reports have shown that whilst earning a good salary is important, there’s more to life than money. Employees rate factors such as training opportunities, career progression, flexible working hours and work-life balance very highly. One study showed that just 56% of New Zealanders felt that they were being provided with a career path and personal development by their employer.

Going back to the real estate ad example, house adverts do more than just list the number of bedrooms and bathrooms: they paint a picture of how awesome your lifestyle would be if only you had that relaxing sea view. And how much joy and laughter your family would have with the swimming pool to splash around in on a hot summer’s day.

In other words: the house ads sell the lifestyle, not just the house. You need to do the same when you’re writing a job ad: the days of “they’re lucky to get a job” are long gone – if you want an employee that’ll go the extra mile for you.

Where do you place the ad once it’s written?

Where you place your job ad depends on your industry, and the type and level of person you are recruiting: there’s no hard-and-fast answer here.

Yes, sites like Seek and TradeMe are very popular, but depending on who you’re recruiting you may not find the best candidates.

Instead, this is where the experts come in: at Recruit NZ we know what works and what doesn’t work. We carry out research on behalf of new clients, so we’re able to give you good advice.

Are there any other benefits to using a recruitment agency for job ads?

There is another benefit to using a recruitment agency rather than placing a DIY job ad – especially if you’re in a very small or specialised industry. In small industries, job seekers are often nervous about applying directly to the employer, because they don’t want their current employer to find out they’re looking for work. No matter how many reassurances you make about “confidentiality”, people are still very wary.

Applicants feel much happier going through a recruitment agency such as Recruit NZ. This is because we will keep their secret safe until the face-to-face interview stage.

So by using a recruitment agency, you not only attract more applicants, but you stand a better chance of getting the very best people in the industry applying for your role.


  • How to write job ads that appeal to star employees:
    1. Refer to the Person Specification and Position Description you’ve already written.
    2. Do a bit of competitor research to see what they say in their job ads.
    3. Write a catchy headline for your job ad.
    4. Include the following in a one-page job ad:
      • Company overview
      • Team overview
      • Role and expectations
      • Type of person needed
      • Package
      • Call to action
    5. Do not write anything that can be classed as being discriminatory, e.g. age, sex, marital status, or religion.
    6. Consider mentioning the salary on offer, especially if it’s above the market rate.
    7. Remember that it’s not just about the money: mention career development opportunities and any factors that help employees maintain a happy work-life balance.
  • Where you place the job ad depends on your industry and the role being recruited: Recruit NZ can help with this.
  • Job seekers feel more comfortable contacting a recruitment agency than applying directly to employers – especially in small and specialist industries. By using a recruitment agency you have the greatest chance of attracting more (and better quality) applicants.

Next step

Do you need help with job ad writing?

Recruit NZ can take care of your job ad writing… Or if you’re recruiting a number of team members, you can save money with a monthly retainer.

Contact our friendly team today to discuss your needs.

Job ad writing: How to find a star employee that ticks all the boxes.

Contact us to find out how we can help your business.

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Tanya Gray is your strategic HR partner, passionate about driving clients’ productivity with innovative solutions and collaboration.

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