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by Michael T. Owens | March 10, 2009


Scenario: Last Sunday you placed an $1100 recruitment ad for Service Technicians. You only received six responses and only two fit the qualifications. Why didn't this ad work?

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? Do you feel like you've wasted company time and money? Are you being pressured to fill positions-fast? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions continue reading.

Analyze your ad, especially the headline Does it grab your attention? Does it read light and quick or dull and boring? If graphics are present, do they compliment the copy? How can you rewrite the headline and copy to make them more effective? There aren't any magical ways to writing good headlines and copy. But there are proven methods that work time and time again. We'll discuss those methods and how to make them work wonders for you!

Who's your target?

Before beginning your copywriting adventure, ask yourself," who is my target?" Are you trying to reach engineers, programmers, cooks? This is obviously one of the most important questions to answer when creating a recruitment ad. You must know EXACTLY whom you're trying to reach and how to reach them effectively.

After you've defined your prime targets, lock in on them! Find out what kinds of concerns, desires, and goals they have. Knowing your audience makes it easier to develop and convey appropriate messages. Research is one of the best ways to learn about your target so don't slack in this area! Remember, other recruiters are trying to reach the same people you are!

After defining your audience, think about writing the actual copy, starting with the headline. You've already armed yourself with research, now its time to use it creatively to get results. Good headlines for any type of advertisement should be attention getting, create an interest in the opportunity, and motivate the reader to act. Here are three basic guides to follow when writing headlines.

Create a thrilling headline. The headline is crucial in the success of your ad. If the headline is catchy then you'll provoke the reader to read the body. The most effective way to grab your target's attention is by getting them excited. Stir up the reader by getting them enthusiastic and motivated. If you want them to apply in person, send resumes, click on a link, etc., you must motivate them.

Create an immediate urge to act by appealing to emotions. Headlines that provoke feelings of curiosity, urgency, excitement, etc. get the best responses.

Carefully choose the words in your headlines. Your goal is to quickly grab the reader's attention and make them want to read more. The best headlines are short and direct. Keep your headlines no more than10 or 15 words long. Try not to use over 15.

Focus on benefits.

Benefits sell! People always want to know what's in it for them. What will they gain? Is it worth taking action? Should they even bother emailing or faxing a resume? Once the headline has their attention, sell them on the career advancement opportunities, employee-oriented culture, etc.

Let's rehash what we've discussed. A compelling headline is the key to writing successful recruitment ad copy. Keep your headlines simple and concise. Stir up your readers by appealing to emotions and senses. Focus on benefits. Let the reader know what's in it for them. Lastly, follow the guidelines presented in this article and you'll have more applicants than you can handle! Good Luck!

This Article is an excerpt from, "How to Write Thrilling Headlines for Recruitment Ads," written by Michael T. Owens, a recruitment advertising professional and freelance writer. He can be reached at:


Filed Under: Interviewing
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