Advertisers advice

Improving your job ad: how to get more applicants

Here’s how to breathe new life into your job listing.

Job ad not generating the stellar applicant shortlist you need? Don’t worry, the solution is probably easier than you think.

Poorly performing job adverts tend to suffer from the same common problems. Here, we’ll help you diagnose your issues, and give you some actionable tips for getting it back on track.

How can I improve my job advertisement?

1. Make it searchable

The digital world revolves around searcher intent, and job ads are no exception. So, how do you make sure your listing hits the top of the search results?


    Categories are integral to the candidate experience on Trade Me Jobs, and if your role isn’t where job applicants would expect, you’ll struggle to reach that qualified audience.

    Establishing whether you’ve selected the best category is simple:

    • Take a few keywords associated with the position you’re looking to fill (more on keywords later), and search them. 
    • Look at the competitor results that pop up, and note which category the majority of top ranked listings use. 
    • As long as these ads are targeting the same candidate sector you’re after, this is the category to go with.

      Let’s give your job ad a little TLC and get it up and running as it should.


      Keywords are also important in their own right when it comes to the searchability of your job ad. They will help you cut through the noise in your chosen category, and reach the job seekers who most closely match your requirements.

      In practice, this means striking the right balance between being sufficiently specific to target the candidates you want, without being too niche.

      There are two tried and tested ways to build good keyword lists for job ads:

      • Using free tools: Google Keyword Planner is a great option.
      • Competitor analysis: Similar to your category research, check out the terms and phrases used in the ads you want to beat. Create a database of the ones that recur frequently, and select the most appropriate for your listing.

      You should look to include keywords in:

      • The job title
      • The short summary
      • The job description

      Top tip: Don’t shoehorn keywords in to tick a box - this can look spammy and detracts from the overall quality of your ad. Instead, use keywords organically within the ad copy.

      Your ad needs to be easily searchable, so think categories and keywords.

      2. Hit your USPs early

      We’ve found that leading with job perks, and factors that make your organisation unique, is effective for stopping scrolling job hunters in their tracks.

      This goes against conventional wisdom, with many preferring to lead with the role requirements or core responsibilities. But get into a job hunter’s mindset:

      You’re reading a listing, and think you meet maybe three of the five criteria – do you keep going, or look for something where you might have a better shot? Remember, this could be an ideal candidate, and it’s just their interpretation of the listing that’s making them think twice.

      Now, imagine the same applicant is already buzzing from a list of perks and points of difference that make your organisation and the role feel tailor made for them. We reckon they’re more likely to invest their time and apply.

      3. Be descriptive

      The last point does not mean that the traditional bread and butter of a good job ad goes out of the window.

      You absolutely still need to include:

      • Details about the job itself, including key roles, skills required and hours of work. (particularly if you offer flexibility).
      • An indication of salary or wage.
      • A bit about your company to reflect the workplace culture.
      • The location.
      • A closing date for the listing and contact details for applicants.

      4. Engage your target audience

      How do you write a catchy job ad if you don’t know who you’re trying to catch? A key part of the recruitment process is identifying early on what the dream applicant looks like.

      This will inform decisions including:

      • The essential skills, qualifications and previous experience.
      • The tone of your ad.
      • The perks and USPs you draw out – for example, millennials and Gen Z staff are particularly interested in organisational values and culture.

      5. Optimise the formatting

      Would you be impressed with a CV riddled with spelling and grammar mistakes, or one with no paragraphs or subheadings? Probably not.

      Likewise, top talent will give short shrift to an ad that isn’t easy to read or navigate. If you’ve got URLs, make sure they work, if you’ve included a company video, make sure it plays. You get the idea.

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