As we mentioned in one of our recent articles, recruitment in 2019 is becoming more like marketing every day. It takes much more than just posting a job ad to persuade candidates to choose you over countless other companies hiring for the same position.
One of the most important aspects of marketing is copywriting. While mastering SEO, PPC and conversion rate optimization is a nice extra to have, learning copywriting has immediate effects on your work as a recruiter. Here is why copywriting matters in recruitment and what you can do to start learning today.
Why would you even bother with copywriting?
There are only 24 hours in a day and to become a better recruiter, there’s a wide range of skills you could master. I’m here to convince you that copywriting is one that is definitely worth your time and effort.
According to AWAI (one of the most influential authorities in the matter), copywriting is “the process of writing advertising promotional materials”. Essentially, the job of a copywriter is to take a product or service and write about it in a way that convinces people to give money for it. In other words, copywriting is all about persuasion.
As a recruiter, your job is also to sell – the position and the employer. Using the power of words, you can write persuasive copy to convince the person reading your job ads that this is the job opportunity of a lifetime.
Job ads today tend to look the same
If you don’t spend a lot of time browsing job ads, let me tell you – it’s not exactly overly exciting. If you look at the job ads for a given position (I’ve seen quite a few for copywriters and other content positions), they all tend to look the same. The same format, same words, targeting the same kind of candidates.
Would you apply here?
In fact, some employers go as far as copying the entire job ad from someone else. This is not only not very clever, but it’s also a good way to get in trouble with Google and the original creators of the copy over duplicate content.
Since many recruiters have to fill a large number of positions fast, they cut corners and use generic job ad templates. For this reason, candidates see their companies and openings as generic as well.
It takes a lot more to grab the candidate’s attention than a decade ago
A decade ago, things were a lot easier for recruiters. For starters, there weren’t as many openings as today and competition was not as tough. On Angel alone, there are currently over 3,000 openings for a mobile developer. Recruiting in 2019 in beyond is going to be much harder than before.
According to Jobvite’s 2018 report, there were 6.9 million openings last year, compared to 6.3 million unemployed people. Recruiters themselves have a pretty grim vision of the future, with 74% of them predicting that hiring will become more competitive in the next 12 months.
How to get started with copywriting for recruitment purposes
Unfortunately, copywriting is not one of those things you can pick up in a single afternoon, but you can get familiar with some basics fairly quickly. Also, unfortunately, there are very few copywriting materials specific to recruiting, so you’ll have to do some more general reading and apply the learning to your field of work.
Forget about yourself
One of the biggest mistakes in copywriting is taking the wrong point of view. Forget about who you are, focus on your customer, the job seeker. Use the language they use and literally talk back at them.
The candidate doesn’t want to read about their “accountability for activity coordination” in their new role or how your company “continues to lead and innovate in integrating earned, owned and paid media, generating consistent buzz with transformational campaigns for top brands”. Your candidates don’t talk this way. So why would you communicate with them using this kind of language?
Candidates want to hear what’s in it for them. What about the position is so great that would make them leave life as they know it, drop everything and come to work for you?
For a small practice in style, take your last job ad and underline all uses of we and us. Now replace it with you and structure the copy so it tells the benefits to the candidates instead of talking about yourself.
Research your target audience
To learn how your candidates think, breathe and talk, roll up your sleeves and do proper research. A good place to start would be Glassdoor. As we’ve mentioned before, they have a reviews section which is a goldmine of information. Read the reviews and note what candidates have to say about good and bad employers. Note their expressions and write down those that pop up frequently.
Another great resource is Facebook groups. No matter the profession, there’s a dedicated Facebook group for it, with employers posting ads and candidates looking for work. I’m a member of quite a few IT groups and when a recruiter posts a really bad job ad for a developer/designer/QA or something else, rest assured that candidates will give them crap for it, as well as praise the good ads.
Reddit is another place to spark up ideas and learn more about candidates. Subreddits such as Job Search Hacks, Job Search for Everyone and Job Hunting are some excellent resources to find out how candidates think, what language they use and much more. Plus, you can get some ideas on how to improve your recruitment processes as well.
Pick up some reading materials
Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins is a book written in 1923, which may put you off because of the language and style – I initially struggled with it myself. However, it’s one of the basics of modern-day marketing and copywriting that still hold true, even a century later.
The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly is another great book suitable not just for writers, but for anyone else involved in some type of creative work. Once again, it might feel dated to some because it was written in a world where social media and the internet weren’t so omnipresent. However, it’s one of the essentials of copywriting that’s worth a look.
Ogilvy on Advertising is a must-read because, who’s better to talk about great copywriting than one of the most influential names in copywriting, ever? David Ogilvy shares his copy wisdom, with tons of examples from old school ads to help you learn how to write better.
The Elements of Style by Strunk and White is one of the essential books on writing, periods. This classic style manual helped teach countless generations how to write better, and it should become a part of your library, too.
Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz is a book that copywriters, marketers and businessmen love. It’s densely packed with actionable information and it’s not light reading at all, but it will make your writing significantly better. A new copy will set you back at least $125, which may seem like a lot, but it’s money well invested.
Also, make sure to check out this great guide on copywriting by Brian Dean at Backlinko. Brian is well known for writing content on SEO and internet marketing, but this guide is an excellent source of some major copywriting tips.
Sign up for a course
If you’re not that big on reading, there’s plenty of courses on copywriting to go around. I won’t recommend a specific one, but I suggest taking a look at Udemy and Coursera first. If you’re looking for a renowned course, make sure to try anything by AWAI, Copyblogger and Kopywriting Kourse.
Does SEO matter?
In today’s world, copywriting and content go hand in hand with SEO. Even if you’re a complete stranger to this area of online marketing, you probably know the basics. Optimize your website for certain search terms (ideally those that a lot of people search for), sit back and watch the traffic flock to your website.
In other words, optimizing your page for the keyword android developer means getting on the first page of Google search results for this keyword. Ideally, that means tons of visitors to the page and a boatload of applicants. In reality, things are not so simple.
Many recruiters and companies think in this way and end up over-optimizing their pages. They spam the keywords all over the page, which actually backfires – Google and other search engines consider it spammy and penalize the website.
In general, SEO does matter, and going for the right keywords will always yield some results. As long as you do proper research to find relevant keywords (using a tool such as Ahrefs), optimize your pages for it and build some high-quality backlinks to this page, you should see good results in the course of a few months.
However, before thinking about SEO, think of readers first. The copy in your job ads and career pages should aim to convince candidates to apply first. SEO comes second. Optimizing your copy and making it persuasive at the same time is a pretty challenging task, but it’s certainly doable.
Learning copywriting is one of the easiest ways to improve your job ads, find better-quality applicants and work towards improving your overall employer brand. As you can see, getting started is fairly straightforward and you should start seeing results immediately.