Performance Advertising

How to Write Job Ads

If you want real performance advertising, don’t write your job ads so as to make the job seem too “easy”. It only attracts non-performers!

Do you sometimes get so many replies to a job ad that you dread the task of reading them all?

And, when you finally get the pile of resumes down to a manageable level, do you sometimes find there are very few applicants worth considering?

There is a better way to do this. Performance advertising is different!

The Traditional Approach

Look at how recruitment ads are normally put together to attract new employees.

  • They promise a job with status, good compensation and additional benefits.
  • They sometimes point out how conveniently the office is located.
  • They often describe the assignments as being “interesting”, “fun”, or even “easy”.

The main point here is that the picture the applicant usually gets is of how “nice”, “easy” and “pleasant” this position is, and how well they will be compensated. This is not performance advertising.

The ad might also say things like: “we really need a highly motivated person with drive”. But this vital point is often lost in the main message, which is still an effort to sell the position in order to attract the “best” possible applicants.

Who Will Answer Your Ad?

You want to employ a top performer in this new position. And, presumably, you want more than one or two applicants to choose from. But, if you are getting too many replies that whittle down to nothing, you are getting too many non-performers answering your ads.

In an ideal world, you would receive fewer replies, but with a higher percentage of decent candidates. How much easier that would be!

Let us be over-simple here, to make a point:-

Q. What is a non-performer looking for?A. Less work, more money and an easy life!

Q. What is a top performer looking for? Why will they respond to your job ad?

A. More challenge, a bigger game and more responsibility!

Q. Will a top performer shy away from a job that looks easier and less challenging than their current assignment?


Q. Will a non-performer shy away from a job that seems too much like hard work?


Let’s face it; most jobs are not “nice”, “interesting” or even “easy”. In truth, most positions require new employees to work hard to be successful. There are usually many situations that require continual attention and sometimes they are not at all “easy”, or even pleasant, to deal with.

Most managers, however, when they compose a job ad, feel that if they told the truth, they would get very few good applicants responding. It has proven (time and time again), that this is a false assumption as far as performance advertising is concerned.

Performers Want…

Good performers are good performers because they like the truth. Not only that, they are seeking — more than anything else — a real challenge. They are not at all interested in an “easy” job, no matter how well paid it is, or how many perks there are.

Another thing you should know about top performers is that they are usually already working. They are rarely unemployed. They are not desperately scouring the job ads for a new job. They may casually browse the ads from time to time, so your performance advertising has to be targeted at them. If they ever leave a job, they will normally receive numerous offers from others in their industry who know how valuable they are.

When a productive person looks for a new job, it is rarely because he or she wants more money. No! It is more likely that they are seeking a bigger challenge. That is what will draw these people’s attention to your ad.

They may be doing fine in their present job, but they may be getting bored (it’s become too easy for them). Alternately, they may have concluded that they have hit some sort of ceiling. They know there is nowhere else for them to go in their current organisation, so they want to move on. Proper use of performance advertising will grab their attention.


They are either out of work, or they are in a job they are not handling very well. Consequently, they are not comfortable in what they are doing. They may also be under a great deal of pressure to get results that they are not capable of producing.

What is a non-performer looking for?

  • They want a job that does not require too much work, strain or effort. They want it “easy”.
  • They would love to have a job that pays lots of money.
  • And they are often looking for a job with “status”.

So, what happens if you place an ad that really promotes what the person would receive, without mentioning what it really takes to get that job done? The result is that you will actually lure the non-performers. This is not performance advertising.

They think your job may be just what they are looking for; an easy, no hassle life! On top of that, such an ad will cause fewer high performers to respond. They will not see enough interest or challenge in it.

The Job Ad Liability

The main liability in “selling” a job position to potential new employees with too much sweet “PR” (or attention on money), is that you will get too many applicants sending in their resumes. This gives you the following headaches:

  • A lot of paperwork for you to handle.
  • Not enough real performers applying, as they respond better to more challenging ads.
  • The hard task of finding the best performers amongst that huge pile of responses.

The Challenging Ad

  • You want to hire that fire breathing executive who really can get people in your organisation to perform.
  • Or you want that “mythical” secretary who will anticipate your every need and make it easier for you to get on with the real actions of an executive.
  • Or, perhaps you want that elusive sales person who can get the sales figures up sky high and keep them there on a sustained basis.

OK, then you need to apply performance advertising to attract a top performer. And the challenging style of ad will achieve that. A challenging ad has the following attributes:

  1. It is directed towards a person who wants to work hard.
  2. It states the main purpose of the job and what the expected results should be.
  3. It focuses on responsibilities.
  4. It does not avoid pointing out what barriers there may be.
  5. It does not make a big issue of the money or compensation.
  6. The content of the ad is truthful.
  7. It asks for a written production record, including figures.
  8. It challenges! For example, it could point out the fact that not many people can do this job in the way you want it performed.

The benefits of this kind of performance advertising are:

  • The right applicants will be more interested.
  • Non-performers will shy away.
  • It gives a better image to your present and future customers (yes, your customers do read your job ads).
  • The applicant does not pick up any wrong expectations about the position. You may later lose good people if that happens.
  • There is less work for you.

This is the underlying theory of performance advertising; writing successful recruitment ads. The basic concept is: make the ad challenging. Only in this way will you attract the right calibre of new employees: the top performer!

See some examples of challenging ads that will help you writing them.