Boring Ads Don’t Attract Great Workers

If you want to fill those empty seats in your supply chain operation, don't write boring ads. Provide details and focus on important factors such as challenge, location, and money.

You need to tell the reader about what he or she will do, rather than simply listing the requirements. By getting specific, you will push the candidates' hot buttons for response.

Convince the reader to respond. Write an ad that demonstrates a positive culture, great products, and a winning team effort. Your response ratio will gain momentum. Demonstrate why your company is cool or making money or creating an amazing new product or process. Make the reader want more.

The standard (boring) formula for an online job ad looks like this:

A. Company description
B. Job title and short description
C. Requirements
D. How to apply

Before you search frantically for the last ad you posted five years ago for a critical hire, you need to review the requirements. This step begins with a team meeting to assure you understand what you want and what the team indicates it needs. Writing a good ad is the basis for the phone screening and interview guides for your team.

Next you must write an ad that makes the candidate want to change jobs. The person who actually composes the ad must know why and how the company can provide a career move for the reader. The language must be jazzy and grab attention. When you read the ad, you should want to apply for it.

Rather than: “Manage the sourcing process for various areas including capital purchases and P&L through the sourcing process (RFP, bidding, negotiation, award, implementation), and supplier performance monitoring,” try this: “You will manage the global capital purchases from source to the manufacturing floor with massive responsibility for RFPs, bidding, and negotiations.”

As this Inc. article suggests, make it snappy. We have grown to expect fun ads from places like Amazon, Apple, and startups. Your ad needs to reflect the culture of your company and the department, but should also show what a great place it will be for the candidate to grow his or her career. Don't treat the ad like you are ordering a machine part.

Title and location
Job titles can be very different, depending on the company. As SmartRecruiters notes, explaining the specific responsibilities will assure your search reaches the target audience. If you need to fill a supply chain manager job in a computer manufacturing setting, try posting the job in several different categories on LinkedIn, such as Electronics Manufacturing, Consumer Goods, or Retail.

Be realistic. Please don't dump skills from three jobs into an ad for one individual. Did you have all the skills needed for your job when you started? Just list what the candidate must know to start in the position.

Additional insight
Try applying online to your own company. How long did it take you to complete the application and fill in the blanks? Make it easy. I read an article on Monster that actually suggested making it difficult on the candidate, but I advise you make it faster and better — especially for the supply chain business.

Don't hesitate to seek help from a more creative associate as you write the ad. Your online ad needs to grab the candidate by the eyes.

Posting and praying for results is rarely effective. We are in a race for great talent in the supply chain. Get ready, get set, go!

Please share your own hiring story in the comments below. Tell us how you got hired, or how you recruited your best employee. And feel free to share any tips that work best in your company.

26 comments on “Boring Ads Don’t Attract Great Workers

  1. Eldredge
    May 23, 2013

    From my experience, it is obvious that many employers do not put the appropriate effort into writing their job description. Thank for providing your recommendations!

  2. mfbertozzi
    May 23, 2013

    @Eldredge: well, we could share that also from recruiters sometimes job descriptions are not alined to the real work; it happened; at the end, recruiters need to provide the jobs ads really attractive or need to publish they are the top in the sector.

  3. Clairvoyant
    May 23, 2013

    Good point, Eldredge. I have noticed this before as well. It is a disadvantage both for the person applying for the job and the interviewer as they may not be looking into the exact qualifications and needs that are best suited for the position.

  4. Eldredge
    May 23, 2013

    @mfbertozzi – Quite right. I should also say, however, that some recruiters and companies do very well at their job descriptions

  5. Ravenwood
    May 23, 2013

    We use headhunters. Any professional not “great” enough to warrant the attention of a recruiter doesn't deserve my time either. As for the headhunters, they seem to know exactly what to write & say (or they're outta business)……..Sparky

  6. Ruth Glover
    May 23, 2013

    One of the issues that hiring managers and recruiters may face is the need to revise the ad.  When the team begins to interview, the may need to be changed.  The group may decide they really don't need the specific health care experience if the candidate's background is strong enough in understanding devices for other applications.  What the team thought was required may evolve to “nice to have.”   

     The recruiter must be informed as the requirements evolve as they interview people.  If the team can be a bit flexible on the requirements, but also look at personality, the depth (not years) of experience, and cultural fit with the organization, the job can be filled more quickly.

  7. ahdand
    May 24, 2013

    I have seen some Indian Ads which were very creative and you can simply watch it over and over again. So creativity is something which should be applied if you are advertising since you should make people look at it since you pay a huge amount on it.   

  8. mfbertozzi
    May 24, 2013

    @Eldredge: that'right and it is honest and correct to report it. Definitely.

  9. Ruth Glover
    May 24, 2013

    Recruiters are using more pictures and videos to grab the candidates' attention. Have you spent any time on Pinterest? Youtube? Innovation abounds.

  10. Tom Murphy
    May 24, 2013

    Ruth: Great blog, and nicely told.  But I'm curious about whether you've seen any really great want ad on video…?   Given the time needed to watch a video, and the number of jobs that must be advertised, I'm wondering if that's truly a practical and cost-efficient way to find people.  Is that a tool you'd use to convince a tentative applicant to come in?  What are the costs involved in producing a video — I'm assuming you'd tell people to aim for high quality because a “boring” video wouldn't attract great workers either.

  11. Ruth Glover
    May 24, 2013

    Great comment on the video ads.  I don't think a boring video ad would make the candidate want more infrmation but we are moving to mobile devices.  Short, catchy information, about product, and people can entice someone to want to know more.  Do a quick search for “cisco recruiting videos” to see some of their videos and the resulting comments.  

    I use video for interviewing but personally would not choose to do a video ad.  I'd want video advertising experts to share what's working for which sectors before I'd try it on my own.  Short estimonials on company websites clearly enhance the message and branding.    

  12. Houngbo_Hospice
    May 24, 2013


    It is true that Youtube ads techniques have improved other the years. I am not that familiar with Pinterest, but I can imagine that being new in the market they will try to excel in order to attract more customers.

  13. Houngbo_Hospice
    May 24, 2013


    ” As for the headhunters, they seem to know exactly what to write & say (or they're outta business).”

    Only the best of the bests can be competitive and get people attention with their skills. How do you recruit the headhunters and how do you gauge their work?

  14. elctrnx_lyf
    May 25, 2013

    The right ad is very important to find right candidate. Video ads could definitely will generate more curiosity and also will help them to get good feel of work environments they are going to work.

  15. mfbertozzi
    May 25, 2013

    @Ruth: well, good reference, really interesting; it is true, recruiters in a such way are evolving towards that platform, I've experienced also socials are becoming another great tool for them.

  16. Ravenwood
    May 25, 2013

    Hospice_Houngbo:  How do you recruit the headhunters and how do you gauge their work?

    Sparky : We have long-establshed relationships with recruiters who specialize in connecting us to talent within our industry. These are small firms, most staffed or owned by professionals who previously worked in our industry. They approach each opportunity with good pre-existing understanding of the positions, whether Technical or Adminstrative. From there our company's specific ISO SOPs detail post & duty specifics. This makes our recruiter interviews fast and effective, and their subsequent candidate referrals likewise.

    A word about recruiting: First and foremost we strive to promote from within. We're a bottom-up company who hopes to offer employees advancement opportunities in addition to weekly paychecks. When we must look outside, it is usually for one of three reasons:


    1. There is no one qualified internally to fill a vacating position, something we consider an adminitrative failing.
      1. The matter of ads, boring or otherwise, are virtually eliminated with a company culture that actively promotes from within:
        1. continuing education program w/tuition reimbursement
        2. mentoring programs
        3. cross-training programs
      2. This practice limits the recruitment process to entry-level positions.
      1. While great people are sought at all levels, the consequences of entry-level recruitment errors (“boring ads” or otherwise) are diminished.
      2. We are firm believers/supporters in the use of college Interns. This has been a terrific way to capture fresh talent.
        1. In this mode the “recruiter” is the school or institution's placement/guidance/career office.
        2. We use 2- and 4-year schools based on the entry-level position/requirements.
  17. No employees are interested.
    1. This is not considered an adminstrative failing if it is the end-result of successful internal promotional progression.
  18. A need to avoid departmental inbreeding.
    1. If we feel a department/organization can no longer deliver innovation (think outside the box) we go external for candidates.
      1. The candidate may be recruited as a short-term consultant to energize the department, or as a permanent employee. 

    How do we gage their work? Their history with us; their ongoing reputation within our industry.

    – Sparky    ?

  • Houngbo_Hospice
    May 25, 2013


    Promotion from within is a good way to encourage employees to get more commited to the company's success goal and give their best at their job.

    Thanks for sharing that information with us. 

  • Ruth Glover
    May 25, 2013

    Thank you for taking the time to share your insight.  

    I hope our US readers are enjoying the long week-end with friends and family.  It's a great week-end for fun, especially where the weather is good.  Hug a Veteran or maybe hire a Veteran.  They can't keep us safe from tornadoes, but they certainly help when devastation occurs.  


    Happy Memorial Day.

  • Himanshugupta
    May 26, 2013

    I have seen companies putting employees testimony on their job sites but unfortunately a limited ones. These testimonies give a good insight of the day-to-day jobs performed by employees and can be a good motivating factor for future hires. If i go to a company's job site then first thing that attracts me is what kind of employees are working for the company, how they have progressed in their career, what they do on daily basis and how satisfied are they with their jobs. These are the typical questions that one asks the recruiter.

    Another trend that i am seeing is a direct contact from companies or recruiting agencies or job sites after i have shown interest in a particular position to ask whether i need some more information. I think it shows that the companies are as eager as you are.

    May 27, 2013

    All our best employees have been attracted via personal contacts.  We use our “people supply chain” to get the folks we want.  We also approach people in tradeshows or hire recruiters to approach people in the best companies.  However I believe that the best folk are difficult to displace unless their is a compelling pull from a great company.

  • t.alex
    May 27, 2013

    Should we or should we not include wage/salary into the ads?

  • Ruth Glover
    May 27, 2013


    You hit the nail on the head!  Why would anyone want to work for your company, especially if the individual is happy where s/he is?  You must be convinced of your company and team value to persuade others to join.  

  • Ruth Glover
    May 27, 2013

    Some think it's important to put the salary range in the ad.  Personally, I think it may cut great candidates out of the loop.  You might want to read some articles about it online.  Opinions vary greatly.

  • Mr. Roques
    May 28, 2013

    I liked the post, but I'm worried that a boring paper company posts a great ad, that captivates the reader, and he applies but when he gets there… guess what? It's a boring job.

    Google and Apple post fun ads because they have a fun environment. 

    The ad in itself isn't the answer.

  • Ruth Glover
    May 31, 2013

    Your quesetion about writing a fun ad for a boring job made me smile.  Maybe the company ought to think about trying to make their work atmosphere less tendious.  Maybe the ad will start conversation within the company to try to improve their corporate culture.  I can hope, can't I?  

    I can't really see someone writing an ad that says, “Come work for us!  We are boring people with no sense of humor but you'd like it here, if you, too are boring and no fun at all.”  

    It's Friday!  Let's have a good week-end!  

  • Christawells
    July 23, 2014

    My older son went to a lot of job interviews after the company he was working for fired half of its employees. He received three work proposals and it was very hard for him to choose one because he did not know exactly what the working conditions are for each of them. He tried searching for more info on the internet and found out a company was using time clocks you can find on Time Clock eShop , he liked this idea a lot and decided to accept their proposal. Three years have passed since then and he does not regret his decision to work there.

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