You’ll Think I’m Crazy, But You Should Put This in Job Ads

AIDAThe goal of any job advertisement should be to attract the highest number of responses from qualified applicants. But how exactly do you go about writing a job ad that attracts the top talent?

If you want to generate more applications from top candidates you must include a telephone number in your job advert.

Now I know what you’re thinking; Connie (who has an agenda of course) can’t possibly understand the recruitment industry. Is she seriously suggesting including a contact name and telephone number? Imagine all those nuisance calls from unqualified candidates; it’s enough to raise the blood pressure of any agency owner. I guess than I owe you some form of explanation if I’m going to challenge the conventional wisdom.

Attracting Top Applicants

Attracting applications is simple in principle. You write a compelling ad and provide the appropriate response mechanism for your selected audience.

Both of the aforementioned principles can be achieved if your agency follows the AIDA model. Your advert must grab Attention, stimulate Interest, create Desire, and most importantly generate Action from the reader.

Elements of a Successful Job Ad

Many recruitment agencies have the capability to produce compelling adverts, but they fall desperately short when it comes to the second principle in attracting top candidates.  They fail to provide the appropriate response mechanism. Let’s briefly cover the Attention, Interest and Desire elements of a job ad before focusing in more depth on improving the “Action” element of your job advert.

Grabbing Attention, Generating Interest, and Creating Desire

On a standard job board your opening gambit is the headline; normally this will be a job title. Often there is little scope to change this. You should focus on writing a powerful opening paragraph which is more than just a description of the role. Remember this opening paragraph will often be truncated — make sure you get the key selling points in early.

Interest and desire for the position can be achieved through great copy that appeals to the emotional and logical sides of a jobseeker. Typical motivations for candidates to change jobs include:

  • More money
  • Career advancement
  • Learning new skills
  • Greater prestige
  • Improved happiness

Actions Speak Louder than Words

Generally speaking, recruitment agencies get the first three parts of the AIDA model right. It’s the action stage where most job advertisements fall short.

A typical ad might ask a consumer to complete an action like visit a store, phone an order line, or visit a company’s website to make a purchase. Job ads in contrast are selling a position. Instead of a purchase you are asking for a different kind of action; you’re asking candidates to part with an arguably more precious commodity, their time.

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Completing application forms, tailoring CVs, and writing personalized cover letters are all time-consuming activities. An applicant will only complete these desired actions if the incentive to do so is strong enough.

How can a telephone number increase applications?

Candidates are far more likely to apply: Quality candidates will want to ask plenty of questions about the role to qualify their own suitability and interest. If you fail to provide a contact name and number for queries, you will inadvertently create a barrier to quality candidates.

Candidates are wary: experienced professionals are increasingly wary of bogus job ad. A quick conversation with a recruitment consultant can be enough to alleviate these concerns and stimulate an application.

Instils confidence: There’s nothing worse for a candidate then spending hours crafting an application only to find that the advertised position has been filled or is no longer available. I have known people not to apply for a position unless they have had an actual conversation with the recruiter because of negative past experiences.

People sell better than words: I’ll wager that the majority of recruitment consultants are far better at selling a role over the phone than they are with the written word. Recruitment professionals are by and large salespeople, not marketers.


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Connie Barrow is operations director of Armchair Group, based in Hampshire, England, Where she is responsible for the efficient running of all of Armchair’s inbound and outbound call center activities. She leads all aspects of operational management within the group, including client liaison and reporting and recruitment and training of all staff. She has overseen the recruitment and training of hundreds of staff members across the group and has helped develop the customer service and candidate sourcing strategies of 50 recruitment agencies in the United Kingdom over the past decade.


7 Comments on “You’ll Think I’m Crazy, But You Should Put This in Job Ads

  1. Connie, you are soooooo right about this. So many companies only give the candidate the ability to apply into their ATS. If the candidate is on the fence or has a question that they must have answered before the’d consider applying, it can be the kiss of death to not allow them to call and talk with a recruiter. I know companies do this to keep unqualified candidates from taking up the the time of their recruiters, but the flip side is that it causes companies to lose lots of great candidates as well. What you are teaching here is one of the many things we teach in the Post Perfect Training Program:

    1. I completely agree with this. Put your contact information on there. We are recruiters and we should talk to candidates regardless. The phone will always be our best tool.

  2. agree totally and if the hiring manager is serious enough about filling it he or she will answer the phone and do the screening necessary

  3. You’re right, I think you’re crazy.

    I had the resources, I’d do it. I don’t. The hiring managers themselves are also usually stretched so thin to make this impractical. It’s not a question of being wrong, so much as most companies do not devote the resources to make it practical. I recall when I used to put my number in ads, the amount of calls I’d get, and the ratio of people who were even remotely qualified to those who weren’t, made it next to impossible to get anything else done. And the reality is most people are saddled with other duties, which while not their primary function, do need to get done.

    The problem isn’t ATS systems per se, but that companies refuse to simplify the application process. Top performers don’t necessarily prefer phone calls, the means of communication preferred will differ from person to person. However, the one common element is that it should be easy and not terribly time consuming to get that communication done. Top performers don’t mind ATS systems per se, they DO mind being asked to retype their resumes. An email address and an attached resume should be enough to start the ball rolling.

  4. I wouldn’t go as far as to say you’re crazy. Uninformed might be closer to the truth.

    Given that this article is aimed at recruitment agencies, it misses one key fundamental issue – and that is that most recruitment agencies are one of several who have been given the vacancy and as such, have relatively little insight about the job, the company or its business challenges. That is a massive handicap when it comes to trying to attract the right types of candidates.

    This is why so many agency ads look and sound the same.

    You’re also wrong about there being scope to change the job title. I’ve changed many job titles where I’ve thought the client’s job title was misleading or ambiguous in some way.

    Using a phone number is, in the majority of cases, a bad idea – for reasons already expressed in another comment. Where it can be a good idea is where the target candidate audience is relatively small.

  5. I have done this in a couple of past in-house recruitment manager roles and with great success. The truth is that 1 out of 10 applicants will call ( I have own stats to back this up) and often those that in one way or another are relevant and who wish to explore the role and whether they may be a fit. From a candidate experience perspective it is top class and testify how for real seriously the company behind takes this hire and how they wish to be perceived in the market place. For me it is all about accessibility and showing candidates that there is an interest in both appearing more than just an advert and as well as allowing the opportunity to figure out if there may be a match. What is interesting about this is that from the conversations had with a range of candidates, I could within a 3 minute conversation assess if candidate within framework of what sought for the role, thereby either give them a kind rejection, or speed expedite them through the system.

    1. How do you estimate the number of applicants who didn’t call? This goes contrary to my experience. I was lucky if 1 out of 10 who did call were even relevant, much less qualified. And I see no way to estimate how many people saw the ad and didn’t call.

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