Content writing is a very broad term. In some cases, content writing refers to blogging, or the information found on a website for a business. Content writers are qualified to help with the written word as it appears in many formats.
While writing content for a corporate website is very different from writing a blog about health and beauty trends, properly-trained content writers are able to handle any task. Most content writers possess a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications or related writing field. They should have adequate training in proper grammar, various styles of writing – first person, feature, news and biography to name a few – know how to conduct research and be familiar with writing ethics.
Blogging and advertising materials aside, there are many ways content writers can help business owners. One of the most overlooked areas that could benefit from a skilled content writer is a company’s human resources department. The HR department of any company plays a vital role in its day-to-day operations, including hiring and employee retention.
So how can a content writer help a company hire the best candidate for the job? The answer can be found in a quality job posting for employment opportunities with the company.
The first impression prospective employees often have of a company is through a job advertisement. Companies that want to attract the best and the brightest need to stop thinking of employment listings as nothing more than a help wanted ad and start thinking of them as a marketing tool. Too many employers are focused on discouraging unqualified candidates from applying, so they use language in an employment advertisement that can be offensive to the kind of candidates they are hoping to attract.
A perfect example of this is in an employment ad I recently discovered from a company that has been bestowed with many accolades, including one of the “coolest” places to work. The company is growing quickly and in need of quality candidates to fill several key positions. Among those positions are several for engineers. However, this little gem was listed as a requirement for one of the engineering positions:
Mathematical Skills: Ability to add, subtract, multiply, and divide in all units of measure, using whole numbers, common fractions, and decimals.
If you’re asking yourself what is wrong with that requirement, take a moment and imagine that you’re an engineer. In order to be considered an engineer, you must possess a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline, with the majority of engineers possessing a Master’s degree. Some engineers also have their Professional Engineering designation, which is very time consuming and difficult to earn. So to suggest that anyone applying for an engineering job should be able to do what is essentially basic math is actually quite insulting. While I’m sure this is not what the company was intending to accomplish, it is nonetheless quite possible this descriptor is turning off some very qualified candidates.
So what tools can companies use to create effective job ads?
For starters, think like a marketing professional. While it is true that companies have to be careful not to violate labor laws when drafting a job ad, it should not be the only consideration. Make sure the job ad actually discusses what the person will be doing, rather than just containing a laundry list of requirements for hiring. If a potential candidate can’t envision doing the job, they will most likely not apply for it, regardless of their qualifications. Think like a marketer and sell that position.
Secondly, make sure you are writing a job ad, not a job description. While the two things may have a lot in common, they serve very different purposes. Job descriptions are created, in part, as an internal guidepost that clarifies what the role entails and to whom the person filling the role reports and should be very detailed.
Job ads, on the other hand, should contain only the amount of information necessary to entice a candidate to choose the “apply now” option. In other words, leave out the details about how the job is to be done and include ones that talk about the company’s culture and mission statement, as well as salary and benefits, required qualifications and instructions for how to apply.
A catchy title on the job description is the best way to pull a potential candidate into the job ad. Choosing a title that will easily be found in search engines is a good idea, so think like a candidate. If you’re hiring someone to work in the public relations department, keywords such as public relations, marketing, communications and even PR specialist are ideal. The same is true for the body of the job ad. Use SEO-rich keywords that can easily be found by a variety of search engines.
Once you have the ad crafted, have someone proof read it for you. Nothing turns off potential candidates – especially college-educated candidates – more than poor grammar and spelling in a job ad. It says the company didn’t care enough to make sure the information was correct, which may or may not speak to how the company treats its employees.
Have tips you’d like to share about crafting the perfect job ad? We’d love to hear them in the comments section.
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Shari L. Berg is the owner/operator of The Write Reflection, and a writing professional for 25 years.