More than 40,000 job ads are posted online each day in the United States, according to RecruitLoop.
With that much competition for qualified candidates, being able to differentiate your company and cut through the clutter can improve your chances of finding the right hire.
Make your advertisement "talk to the job seeker directly," advises Paul Slezak, co-founder of RecruitLoop, an online marketplace of on-demand expert recruiters based in San Francisco. "Don't just write some blind copy."
An effective job ad is not just a description, he explains. "It is a carefully crafted message with the aim of attracting the best qualified candidates for your job."
For starters, the job title should be clear and not misleading, Slezak notes.
Use keywords carefully
"Appropriate use of keywords will improve your odds of connecting with the right candidates," says Mary Ellen Slayter, a careers advice expert for Weston, Massachusetts-based Monster.
Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal candidate, she suggests. What terms would they search for?
You may have to tweak the job title once you see what kind of results you get, says Dina DeDonato, president of Solution Staffers Inc., a Port Jefferson-based staffing agency.
For instance, "regional director" might work better than "area manager."
"If I see no traction or I get traction and it's the wrong kind, I go in and play with the title a little," she explains.
Also pay careful attention to the short description/teaser under the job title, adds Slezak.
It's about 140 characters, like a tweet, and it's what's going to prompt someone to click through to the actual ad, he notes.
On average, four times more people read the short description than actually click to the ad itself, he says.
The ad copy should be clear and concise, notes Chris Campisi, branch manager for Accountemps in Hauppauge, a division of staffing firm Robert Half.
"It needs to be well written," he explains. Be clear on what the job is and the skills required, but also talk about the intangibles, Campisi advises. For example, is there room for growth or flexibility on hours?
It's important that potential candidates know what your company can bring to the table, he says.
Cover the basics
Include the preferred method of application (through the ad, email or website), where the candidate can get more information about your company, how long you'll be accepting applications (even if the answer is "until the position is filled") and a starting salary range, if possible, Slayter says.
If you need to highlight information, bullet points work well.
Start with three bullet points with key information or unique features to help catch the applicant's attention, such as location, salary and one or two perks, Slezak advises.
You can expand on them later in the ad copy itself.
But don't get too long-winded.
The job description or list of duties does not have to be exhaustive, but it should give an accurate preview of the responsibilities and tasks involved, Slayter says.
You could add a video or a Web link where applicants can find out more, adds Campisi, who says some mid-size to larger firms do that.
And lastly, be specific, DeDonato says. If the candidates need three years' experience of Microsoft Office, be clear on that, she notes.
"You will weed out a lot of people if you're very specific," she notes. "It's better to have five quality candidates as opposed to 50 non-quality ones."