How to write a winning job advert

Finding the right support and attracting the right talent to your school can be an arduous task. The job advert you post has a massive part to play in this; but it’s not just a matter of words on a page – it’s an art form to be mastered. Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, shares his five steps to writing a successful job advert

The education sector continues to face staff shortages. For schools and those responsible for recruitment this means more pressure than ever to entice the very best candidates. But how can you go about this?

Master of engagement

Mastering the art of the job advert is a proactive first step – after all, the job advert can be the deciding factor for professionals as to whether they apply or not. This means you need to show off how great the role is and why your school is a great place to work.

Writing a winning job advert is by no means easy but, once you’ve got it mastered, you’ll definitely reap the rewards. We break it down into five easy steps to help make it the process that little bit easier.

1 Use an enticing job title

The job title is your first selling point. A candidate will probably find your vacancy because they’ve searched for that job title online, so you need to think about what common practice in your industry is. A good job title should always be clear, to-the-point and describe what the role is.

For example, if you’re looking for an assistant school business manager, why complicate this? Keep the title clear and self-explanatory. You may also wish to tweak it – for example, to ‘school administrator’ – if you aren’t getting the responses you need.

TOP TIP: Avoid adding any filler words such as ‘full-time’ or ‘temporary’. These can prevent your advert listing at the top of online searches.

2 Write a compelling introduction

Now you’ve mastered the job title, it’s time to intrigue your candidates with a gripping introduction. Here, you need to provide a brief summary of your school and explain what you stand for. It’s important to add in a bit of personality to show off what’s special about working with you.

TOP TIP: Imagine you’re trying get the candidate to visualise themselves working at your school. A helpful tip is to address them directly as if you’re speaking to them. For example:

We are a fantastic school dedicated to putting the needs of our students and our staff first. We are passionate about education, take a creative and aspirational approach to teaching and learning and take pride in making our school a supportive and happy place for students and employees alike. You will be working as assistant school business manager, alongside our business manager, providing them with everyday support and ensuring the smooth running of the school and delivery of education.

3 List the key responsibilities

After your introduction you need to explain the key roles and responsibilities of the position. Remember that candidates need to know what’s expected of them from the start, so this can help to filter out any unsuitable applicants.

Bullet-pointing this ensures that the responsibilities are clear, and can improve the presentation of the whole advert. Here’s an example:

  • Undertake a variety of administrative duties to assist in the smooth running of the practice – including the provision of clerical support to clinical staff and other members of the practice team.
  • Facilitate effective communication between patients, members of the primary healthcare team, secondary care and other associated healthcare agencies.
  • Computer data entry/data allocation and collation – processing and recording information in accordance with practice procedures.
  • Providing clerical assistance to practice and trust staff as required from time to time – including word/data processing, filing, photocopying and scanning.
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4 Outline the personal specification

The personal specification describes the perfect candidate you’re looking for. It needs to explain what skills, experience and qualifications you want. If you have some qualities that are more important than others you can split your list into ‘desirable’ and ‘preferred’ requirements.

Remember to be specific here. Being vague can result in a new candidate leaving the job early because they haven’t met your expectations. At the same time, make sure you are fair with the criteria and that your requirements match the salary you’re willing to pay.

If you’re only able pay minimum wage, you can’t expect a candidate with 10 years’ experience to apply for the job. Be realistic. This will ensure you attract the most talented candidates. For example:

  • Two years’ experience working in an administrative role.
  • Demonstrable experience of financial processes and of accounting software.
  • Experience of providing confidential administrative support to a senior business manager and of acting as a point of contact in their absence.
  • Awareness of and ability to assume the appropriate level of responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and to report any concerns in accordance with the College’s safeguarding policies.

TOP TIP: Given the diverse nature of the role, it is advisable that you break down the different aspects of the job and the responsibilities attached to each, for example:

Administration Management

  • Manage the whole school administrative function and lead a group of support staff
  • Design and maintain administrative systems that deliver outcomes based on the school’s aims and goals
  • Manage systems and link processes that interact across the school to form complete systems
  • Define responsibilities, information and support for staff and other stakeholders
  • Develop process measures that are affordable and that will enable value for money decisions for those managing resources
  • Establish and use effective methods to review and improve administrative systems
  • Use data analysis, evaluation and reporting systems to maximum effect by ensuring systems are streamlined to maximise efficiency and avoid duplication
  • Benchmark systems and information to assess trends and make appropriate recommendations January 2015
  • Prepare information for publications and returns for the DfES, LEA and other agencies and stakeholders within statutory guidelines.

5 Shout about the company benefits

Now you’ve explained who you are, and sold the role, you need to sell your organisation. Shouting about your company benefits is a great way to sway your candidates. If you can’t offer the most competitive salary, you can sell the job in other ways.

This could be anything from a good holiday allowance and training opportunities, to flexible shift patterns, paid travel. Or boast about your social activities – staff lunch bought-in on Fridays – and don’t forget your students, they can play an important role in the recruitment process. These can all make a difference to whether a job seeker applies or not.

Creating a job advert can be a time-consuming process but putting an hour or so aside to get it right is certainly worth it. Remember that you’re using this job advert to sell your role to candidates and show how great your organisation is to work at.

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