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Build A Better Employment Ad

Every Sunday I read the local paper. Tucked in between the Comics and Sports, there are two sections I give special attention to due to my occupation: the Automotive and Jobs sections. Every week I’m stunned at the difference between the two.

The Automotive section is usually a dozen pages long and full of colors and bold titles. I’ll see at least one advertisement from every dealership with detailed descriptions of the vehicles they want to sell. It’s one of the most interesting sections of the newspaper because it exists solely to sell to the consumer by exciting them about what each dealership has to offer.

The Jobs section, however, is almost the complete opposite. Only four or five pages long in a big week, it’s commonly nothing more than black text, in the smallest font possible, organized by categories like “Administrative,” “Construction” and “Management” with each ad crammed into a one by one inch square. There will be a few larger ads scattered throughout, with the rare one in color, usually from the largest companies in the area or businesses that are hiring large numbers of people.

To someone like me, who spends a lot of time thinking about recruiting the right employees, this disparity between two sections of the newspaper doesn’t make any sense, considering that both sections are essentially doing the same thing. As I am prone to say, repeatedly, recruiting is selling. So much effort is put into advertising for the automobiles we are selling, while so little is often put into recruiting a new employee. Ask yourself, which would be more beneficial to your dealership: selling one car thanks to a good ad or hiring a sales person who can sell 40 cars a month thanks to a good ad?

My experience has been that many people do not understand the basics of what needs to go into an employment ad. So, to help you build a better employment ad, I will review the key components and why they are necessary.

1. Qualifications

This is the exposition of the ad that simply lists what you are looking for. It is not the part that will draw the candidate in or sell them on your company and available job. Listing qualifications is important, so you’ll get the right kind of people applying and can eliminate unqualified applicants that waste your time.

The qualifications need to come directly from the dealership job description of the position you are filling. Be detailed, honest and comprehensive when listing these details. You will only hurt yourself if you do not accurately reflect what is necessary for the job in the ad. If you do not have a job description to base these qualifications on, I suggest you create one before you even start looking. It’s impossible to find a qualified candidate if you don’t know what you are looking for.

2. Pitch

The pitch, as I call it, is the meat of the employment ad. This is the information that convinces the candidate that he or she wants to apply for the listed job. This is where you sell yourself to job seekers and answer the question job seekers are sure to ask, “What’s in it for me?” Without a good pitch you will never draw the best candidates and will find yourself with a stack of mediocre applications.

Currently, the national unemployment rate is hovering around 4.5 percent. That means 95.5 percent of the people who want to work are working. Other studies show that about 15 percent of the workforce currently employed is currently seeking other employment. So – at best – your candidate pool will be less than one-fifth of the workforce, and you are competing against every other company out there in the war for good workers. It is necessary that your employment ad stand out.

Ads commonly include a list of benefits available and possibly a pay range, and employers consider the ad sufficient to attract candidates. The reality is that good pay and basic benefits are expected. You will have to go beyond those to draw in the best people. All but the lowest level jobs are going to include paid holidays and vacations, medical insurance and regular pay increases.

You need to identify what you offer that others do not, or at the very least what the other ads leave out. Do you give a discount in your service department to employees? Could you? We do, and we advertise it as an employee benefit – something that most businesses cannot offer. Can you offer flexible schedules? For example, is it necessary that your title clerk be at work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyday? Would it possible for this person to work 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., pick up their children from school, take them home and return to work from 5 to 7 p.m.? If your dealership is open those hours, why is that not possible? Are there opportunities for advancement because your dealership is rapidly growing? Many people are interested in jobs that will make promotions a possibility, so this is a major selling point.

Give serious thought to what you can offer. Then, bring it all together in the employment ad. Here is an example of pitching:

In addition to our excellent compensation plans, health insurance, paid vacations and 401(k) savings plan with 50 percent match, we are happy to provide our employees with a wellness program including an on-site Fitness Center, ongoing employee specials and discounts on automobile purchases and service, on-going training in our corporate training center and via satellite classrooms, and opportunities for advancement at all of our five dealerships.

You see the expected basics are listed, but we also include the things that make our dealerships special. Take a couple minutes and start brainstorming what you offer, or could offer, that would make your dealership unique to job seekers.

3. Design

Design is all about the way your ad looks. Is it nothing but plain, crammed text buried among all the other ads, or is it something substantial and eye-catching that draws the reader’s attention, interesting them? Rarely do I see employment ads in newspapers that are well designed, and it is unfortunate because this is one of the simplest things to address.

The design of the ad needs to be bold, simple and memorable. It needs to stand out to the reader, draw them in and get them to take the time to think about it. To accomplish this, I recommend treating an employment ad exactly as sales ads. If you have a design or advertising company create your sales ads, ask them how much it would be for them to do an employment ad for you in conjunction with your sales ads. Oftentimes if you do a lot of business with them, they are not going to charge you a significant amount. At the very least, have the newspaper classified department help you design an employment ad rather than doing it yourself. They’ll usually charge a small fee, but it will be well worth it if your ad stands out from your competitors.

The design section is a good place to address ad cost as well. The larger the ad you place, the more it’s going to cost you; that is just how newspaper advertising works. Few dealerships want to spend a lot on an employment ad, so they purchase the smallest available size they think will get the job done. This is a horrible attitude to take. The investment you are making in hiring the right employees is well worth the cost. I’m not advocating you take out full page employment ads, but you should at least break out of the single column standard.

This may end up costing you a couple hundred dollars more. However, if the outcome is that you find a salesperson who brings in thousands of dollars in sales each year or a receptionist who is so pleasant that customers are sure to come back, isn’t a couple hundred dollars worth the investment?

4. Contact Information

This component is self-explanatory. The candidates need a way to get their applications and resumes to you. It might seem a little silly to even mention this. Surely everyone knows that they need this in an ad, right? Sadly, not everyone does. I have the most recent employment ads for my area on my desk right now, and I’ve spotted at least a dozen that don’t have contact information. In fact, one of our direct competitor’s ads states for job seekers to “Apply in Person” but doesn’t give their address. I can only guess that they assume everyone knows where they are located. I think we all know what happens when we start assuming.

My preferred way of receiving resumes, and the one I recommend most, is via e-mail. It’s quick, efficient and allows me to easily organize resumes. It is still common though to include your mailing address in an employment ad, along with a specific person for applications and resumes to be sent. When running a newspaper advertisement, it never hurts to give as many methods of applying as possible so you can reach the widest range of people.

To get the best candidates to apply, you need to make yourself stand out by taking a page from our sales advertising, so you can learn to attract top candidates. Focusing on the content of our newspaper advertising and investing some extra time and money to make sure they are the best they can be will improve the effectiveness of newspaper employment ads. Always remember that dealerships are only as good as their employees, so one primary responsibility is making sure you use the best tools to bring in the best people.
Vol 3, Issue 9


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