When you post a job ad, it’s not likely you’re looking to win accolades from the advertising industry. Nevertheless, the top ads have certain elements that made consumers and critics alike sit up and take notice. If you want applicants to be drawn to your posting, you may want to take lessons from the ads that numerous publications designated the year’s best. Rather than going through the (very long) list of ads that made the grade last year, we’ll look at what some of them had in common, and how to integrate their features into the ads you write for jobs.
1. Tell a Story
Some of the best television ads of the year were long – clocking in at more than three minutes each. According to USA Today, these ads stood out because they had a distinct beginning, middle and end. Of course, they had other elements that helped them stand out as well. Some stories were heart-warming, like the one featured in the Ogilvy & Mather ad for TrueMove H mobile, which detailed the life of a young boy and his benefactor. Others were amusing, like Pepsi Max’s test drive with a disguised Jeff Gordon in a used Camaro.
What all of these ads, have in common is that they engage the viewer in a story, short and simple as it may be. The ability to grab someone’s attention is important across all advertising, including the advertising you do for open positions. While you may not have an epic tale to tell that pulls at the heartstrings of your potential applicants, you can format your job ad so it tells the company’s story. It’s also possible to get a little creative and tell a kind of story about your ideal candidate, particularly if you’re aware of opportunities for professional development. A quick verbal sketch of the possible routes a tenure with your company can take is in itself a story, and one that’s likely to interest people motivated to advance their careers.
2. Make Them Laugh
Business Insider’s list of the best ads ranges over many channels of media. In second place is an ad by Nate Walsh, a man from Illinois who wanted to sell a Camry. He made a multipage collage in homage to the car, its features and the bonuses (like an air freshener and 14 sombreros) he would provide to its next owner. Despite selling a 1999 car with one door so dented that it doesn’t open, Walsh made a hilarious and engaging advertisement that made it onto a list populated by advertisements from top agencies worldwide.
Walsh’s brilliant ad certainly isn’t a template for job postings as such. For instance, his description of motor oil reads, “I dunno, sometimes I pour this on random parts of the car. I don’t really understand cars.” It’s never a good idea to pretend incompetence to attract employees, whether or not it’s amusingly stated. However, the spirit of Walsh’s collage is something you can learn from and use in your job postings. A little whimsy, the willingness to laugh at yourself, and possibly a quick cut-and-paste job on construction paper can all go a long way.
3. Add a Human Touch
The best ads included quite a few that left reviewers teary-eyed. All of them accomplished this by telling stories about real people (or people who could conceivably be real). Dove’s success this year came from an ad that showed women describing themselves to a sketch artist, others describing the same woman to the artist, and the difference between the two representations. It aimed to show women see themselves harshly, while others recognize their beauty. It has been viewed online more than 170 million times, and shared more than 4 million. Google’s ad for Google Earth, which showed an adoptee who found his birth mother using the service, also received many accolades and had a large viewing audience online.
Of course, your company may not help women raise their self esteem or adoptees find their families of origin – but that doesn’t mean you don’t have stories with real human interest. Some companies elect to make videos of current employees discussing what their work entails and means to them, which puts a face on a job ad. Yet others describe the kind of corporate social responsibility programs in which they engage, leveraging the good they do to help show applicants they care about the community and the world. Either of these strategies is a good one to adopt to grab attention.
Creating a job ad that follows one or more of these tips – though you probably won’t be able to get them all in, nor would that be strictly advisable – can help you catch the eye of top talent, and maybe even the rest of the Internet as well.