The job advert – don’t blow it

We all know it’s the people who make the difference between a good and bad business. So why do so many employers make such a mess of their recruitment process?

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If you were a qualified mechanic, sick and tired of the traffic, keen to get out of the city and bring your kids up in the countryside, would this advert for a job opportunity, which appeared in a newspaper recently, get your attention?

Responsible for all mechanical work on farm – tractors, vehicles, trucks, implements, packhouse, irrigation.
Basic experience: electrical, auto elec, welding, good labour skills.
  Fax CV to…
The next one is for exactly the same job, but put together with a little more effort.

Live next to the Kruger Park with a view of the Crocodile River.
A leading banana and cane farm is seeking a top-class mechanic to join its team and take charge of all farm machinery and equipment.
Do you have:

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  • An appropriate qualification?
  • Management experience?
  • A love of the outdoors?

We offer:

  • Monthly salary of RXXXXX.
  • Free housing.
  • Company bakkie.
  • Medical aid, pension, insurance.
  • 20 days leave. 
  • Contact us for a standard application form.

Much more appealing isn’t it? This would get more attention and solicit a better response. It’s the people in a business who make the difference, yet again and again I’m shocked by the poor quality of job adverts, especially in the agricultural press. Before you begin drafting your advert, there’s work to be done:

Step 1 – Job specification:

The starting point of any successful recruitment process is being clear about the prospective job. You must go through the process of writing a job specification. Decide on a job title. Write a clear description of the nature and objectives of the job. List the main duties, tasks and responsibilities. Identify the position in the company and the reporting lines.

Step 2 – Candidate specification:
Now take some time and identify the qualities, educational qualifications, skills and experience you’re looking for in a candidate. Distinguish clearly between what you consider essential, and what is simply desirable.

Step 3 – Package and benefits:
Make a detailed list of all the conditions of service, and, in addition to the salary, include perks normally excluded by city employers, but often offered by farmers – housing, electricity, water, domestic help, farm produce, transport for the kids to school, and so on.

Step 4 – Application process:
It’s far better to have all candidates apply on a standard application form. This way you can extract the information you need in a comparable format, making it easier to assess. Set up the application form on e-mail, and send it to all candidates. Acknowledge promptly, and tell the candidate what happens next.

Step 5 – Where and how to advertise:
Is it the Farmer’s Weekly classifieds, or a display advert, or the local or national newspaper? Choose the media that will reach your target audience. Study some of the good adverts in the selected media before you start drafting. Use the AIDA acronym to check your draft – will it get the readers Attention, will it stimulate Interest, will it create a Desire to respond, and does it call for Action?

To sum it all up, the job advert must contain the following information:

  • A brief but punchy description of the firm and its location.
  • A description of the job and what’s required of the person.
  • A description of the person most suited to the job, with a clear description of essential qualifications and attributes.
  • Use the second person “you”, “your” and “yours” in the job description. It helps people visualise themselves in the role.

The salary and key benefits.

Clear instructions on how to apply for the position and by what date. Make sure there’s enough time to respond. If you need help, there are plenty of websites that provide guidelines like Our own locally based is also useful. When next you have a job to fill, write a professional job advert, and place it in the right publication. Your employees are your most precious asset, so it’s important to find the best out there.