Are you finding it tough to recruit the right person for your comms team? You’re not alone. In 2021, almost a third of charities said it was harder than normal to recruit staff. Brexit, the fallout from the pandemic, and the cost-of-living crisis are among the reasons why.
So, what can you do to attract the talent you need? A good place to start is your job advert. Here are six ways to make sure your vacancy stands out.
1. Prepare carefully
Make sure you truly understand what the job involves. Talk to people who currently do the job – both in-house and at other organisations. What skills have they found most valuable? Ask colleagues who’ll interact regularly with the person in this role. What essential traits are they looking for in a new recruit?
2. Be precise
Comms jobs can be huge and varied, particularly in a small team or a solo comms role. But it’s important to keep an advert well-defined and tightly worded. If the job sounds overwhelming, you’ll put people off applying. According to recruiter Reed.co.uk, the most effective ads are around 500 words. And an ideal job title length is just 29 characters – generally, ‘marketing lead’ is more appealing than ‘communications transformation and delivery manager’. Of course, if you’re advertising a particularly specialised role, you may need to opt for a longer job title.
3. Stay on brand
It’s easy to slip into HR speak, marketing jargon or internal acronyms. This can alienate potential candidates. Instead, make sure your advert is as clear, accessible and as on brand as the rest of your communications. Avoid being too ‘try hard’ – are you really looking for ‘rock stars’, ‘ninjas’ or ‘gurus’?
4. Be aware of barriers
Use gender inclusive language, such as the singular ‘they’ rather than ‘he’ or ‘she’. Does the job need specific knowledge that usually comes from a university degree? If so, you could put “must have a subject X degree or equivalent experience”. If that’s not the case, don’t ask for a degree. Instead focus on the skills needed for the job. And always show the salary – it helps demonstrate that you’re a transparent and fair employer.
5. Share your intentions
Consider including a link to your diversity, equity and inclusion statement. A recent Greenpeace job ad said: “At Greenpeace UK we are committed to advancing diversity, inclusion, equity and becoming anti-racist”. The Samaritans include this statement: “Samaritans is wholly committed to inclusion and diversity and to building a culture and environment where everyone is appreciated for the unique person they are. We warmly welcome applications from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences.”
6. Don’t include everything in your ad
Detailed information about day-to-day responsibilities and desirable (rather than essential) experience can be saved for the job description.
Here are the main points to include in your ad:
- Start with the job title and location (mention if it’s homeworking/hybrid) followed by the salary.
- Move on to a short overview of what the person will be responsible for. It needs to sound inspiring and challenging, not just a list of tasks. For example: “We’re looking for a senior graphic designer to help lead our rebrand, offering us expert advice and creative inspiration.”
- Consider opening the first section with a question to attract the attention of job seekers who fit the bill. “Are you an excellent communicator who wants to make a difference to families raising disabled or seriously ill children?”
- Mention some of the other roles they’ll work with. “You’ll work closely with the Head of Fundraising to raise our profile and income.” This helps applicants understand where they’d fit in.
- Describe some of your ideal candidate’s main attributes. For example: “We‘re looking for an ambitious policy and public affairs professional who can produce new ideas, inspire others in the team, and catalyse policy change that will benefit people with lung disease.”
- Don’t just focus on what you need someone to do for you, show what’s in it for them. Mentioning some employee benefits can be useful, particularly if they’re above and beyond the standard ones. Remember, what’s required by law isn’t really a ‘benefit’. Show the difference the candidate will be making by being part of your organisation. For example: “You will be able to learn from, and be supported by, a team of collaborative, award-winning corporate fundraisers who have a fantastic mix of corporate and charity backgrounds. You can enjoy working for a charity that’s changing the lives of people with breast cancer, every day.”
- Finish with details on how to apply. If possible, show that you’re open to a conversation and name a specific person to contact if someone wants to discuss the role.
- How do job descriptions differ from job adverts?
- How to write an inclusive job advert
- Why show the salary?
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