Job advertisement: sales or purchase?

Thursday, September 10th, 2009 - Job Advertisement, job hunting, job search, professionalism

Job advertisement: sales or purchase?

Back Streets of Chinatown: Call #23

I think I have just figured out where most job seekers and job applicants are going wrong: one of those life “click” moments.

To start out, here are two questions:

  1. What is sales? According to the Oxford English Dictionary – and most countries legal definition – it is the exchange of money for a commodity or service
  2. What is an advert? Again, referring to the OED, it is: a public announcement of goods for sale.

So, why does every newspaper from the Arctic to the Antarctic, and every jobs board, call them Job Adverts or Job Advertisements?

Because these pieces of writing and occasional graphics, rather than being placed by employers who want to sell something, they want to buy something: you, your skills, and time; in return for their money. They are not selling, they are buying!

Hence, actually, the old columns once entitled “Help Wanted” were a far more accurate description of the motivations of the people (ie: the employer) placing the piece in the newspaper in the first place

As a result, I wonder if modern job seekers see the column title Job Advert as an invitation to virtually spam employers and recruiters with a standard CV and bland cover letter, as opposed to reading what type of help is wanted, and crafting their job application to the buyers (ie: employers) requirements? Should we therefore ask newspapers and job boards hence, for the good of the economy and returning the world back to work, to revert to the Help Wanted column title, over the Job Advert section?

Reading Job Adverts

Actually, I and many in the employment industry believe through supporting evidence that many job seekers these days just don’t read job adverts or pieces in the help wanted column, beyond the jobs title.

People are by nature status concious. Would you hence prefer to explain your redundancy and employment in a lower job; or forget about the redundancy and just announce you got a better job? Alternately, as your period of employment extends, do you care what the job advert says – who cares, looks good, local, no cost and nothing lost, so just apply!

Every week as a recruitment company, we place job adverts in various locations. These job adverts are derived directly from clients job descriptions, where the combination of skills, competencies and qualifications required have been defined by a combination or: their HR teams input; our market review; the operational manager; the HR policy; the budget; the law! In combination, it has probably taken around 100 hours and £3,000 to get to the point where we put the advert in the media. The advert we place clearly states that job applicants must have x experience or y certification to perform the role; or must have local experience in this area in order to be able to perform this role. Yet, I know that at least 25% to occasionally 75% of the CV’s submitted for each role that we advertise will fail these basic requirements

The result is that many in the employment industry know that what ever we call these columns – we could even go as far as “Requirements of Employment” – there would still be people who were either desperate or ambitious enough due to human nature to apply for that job. Occasionally it pays off, and if it does there are a clear set of best practises on how to improve your chances.

But if you are a job seeker, just looking for employment, the best skill you can learn at present is to read the words below the job title in the job advert. That is the route to successful and fast employment.

Good Luck!


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