Freelance copywriter Alasdair Murray on how some recruiters could gain a competitive edge over their rivals if only they thought a bit more about the messages they put out into the public domain.
They are there for all to see – the ‘new year, new career’ job ads that get wheeled out at the beginning of each new year. Someone somewhere clearly still thinks it’s original and a bit clever. Trust me, it’s not, nor has it been for many years. In fact, it’s become so clichéd that many people play spot the ‘new year, new career’ ad from the start of every December. But that’s not the only thing that people pick up from your marketing communications and recruitment advertising.
Take job posts for example. Technology's great, it really is. But the trouble is, it’s made the job posting process so accessible and speedy that literally anyone can do it. I’m sure in some agencies a junior member of staff or someone working in a support role, is entrusted to post the latest vacancies online. The result? A grammatically dull and turgid job description that’s hastily cut and pasted by someone who has no understanding of what the client actually wants, or an ad that by the end of line one has already turned off the reader by stating “our client are looking for…”. And what about the ones that are littered with spelling mistakes or God forbid (and I’ve seen quite a few of them) the downright inexcusable errors like asking for “a good telephone manor”. There are plenty of examples out there for all to see! The question is - why?
I’m sure when you see a competitor of yours putting out a really badly written job ad you have a quiet smile or at the very least think it comes across as a bit unprofessional. But ask a question of yourself and your agency - what do people think of the communications you and your colleagues are putting out?
It’s an undeniable fact that when it comes to advertising and marketing, whether it be a website, a TV or radio advertisement or a job post, people are driven, first and foremost, by their emotions. Just as you wouldn’t book a holiday at a hotel if the pictures of it made it look shabby and the write up on it was full of spelling mistakes, so good quality potential candidates won't give you more than a few seconds to grab their attention and interest them enough to read on. If all they come across is badly written or cut & pasted copy full of errors they’ll soon move on to the next ad. You’ll still probably get inundated by irrelevant and poor applications and swear that it’s the medium you are using to advertise that’s at fault, but the reality is if you’re not investing enough time and care in your advertising and marketing you’ll continue to get poor quality response, no matter how many job boards or social networks you use.
Put simply, every time you put a message out there, you're straightaway making a statement about your company. You're projecting an image. And, you're being judged - constantly. Not just by potential candidates who are likely to think if you can’t get the basics right, why should they trust you with their career aspirations. No, it’s far worse than that. I’m talking about potential clients too – and most likely existing ones as well, keen to find out what sort of service they are actually getting for their money.
That's why I suggest that if you’re not doing it already, you make this year the year you ensure that whenever you’re thinking about advertising or updating your website or sending out an ‘e-shot’ you take the time to get the message right. Spelling mistakes, bad grammar, typos, the lack of a cohesive, powerful or convincing message - all of these factors can be the fine line between success and failure. I appreciate that some people are just not comfortable writing a job ad. Indeed, I’ve met plenty of consultants who put off writing job ads to the very last minute or see it as something of a chore and a necessary evil and hand the task over to someone else.
Your consultancy may well already recognise the importance of clear, consistent and alluring communications. Or maybe you need to take the time do a quick audit and identify the people in your office who have a flair for writing the ads and entrust them to be the champions of advertising and marketing communications. Either way, in an ever more competitive marketplace it’ essential to remember that when it comes to advertising, marketing, publicity and promotion, first impressions really do count – and there’s a whole online world out there watching. Make 2013 the year you take a good hard look at the way you communicate and start giving yourself that competitive edge.