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#Writing job ads – does politeness pay?

This post want inspired by reading one of the most “polite” job ads I’ve read recently.

Reading job ads often helps me with my work – my work as a writing coach – helping businesses and recruitment agencies write (or tweak) better job ads.


So many job ads I read are atrocious – full of spelling mistakes or the wrong words. And these ads are often from businesses demanding attention to detail and professionalism and good writing skills from candidates.

Other ads have such a “superior and bossy” tone – YOU WILL HAVE THIS, YOU WILL DO THAT, YOU MUST HAVE…

I know in these tough economic times with so much competition for jobs, it’s a “hirer’s market” – still I’ll share with you how the ad I saw recently demonstrated the techniques I teach to:

1. Show R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the candidates

2. help CONNECT with the right type of candidate who matches the character of the organisation

3. help the candidate know what to EXPECT about the job application process. This saves having to answer lots of enquiries and calls about the progress of an application.

Easy to remember – RESPECT, CONNECT, EXPECT.

The job ad was from Healthy Waterways in Queensland – a
not-for-profit organisation working to protect and improve waterways.

Now, I must declare that I like “old-school” politeness and etiquette. Maybe not all people would be as impressed as I am – but I thought this ad stood out from other ads that all sound the same – and sound bossy and superior.

Here’s what I liked about the Healthy Waterways ad:

1. The liberal sprinkling of please and thank you.

There’s even this line I don’t see in many job ads:

We would like to take the opportunity to thank all applicants for submitting their applications.

2. In general, the ad is worded so it avoids the use of YOU WILL and YOU MUST.

Sure, it’s a polite more “passive” style:

The closing date for the applications is 5pm on Monday 5 January 2015.

rather than “active”:

applications must be submitted by

Actually, there is one MUST – but there isn’t that overriding, repeated bossy tone MUST.

In my opinion the ONE MUST comes across as very clear and firm – but not overused.


In my opinion this ad has an overall tone of politeness – with this one very firm MUST.

3. I also like how the ad lets candidates know what to expect.

Many ads say something like Only short listed candidates will be contacted.

This ad doesn’t have to use ONLY.

Also, it gives a time frame for candidates to expect when they should have heard if they are short listed.

Short-listed candidates will be contacted two weeks after the closing date.

Personally, I would have included in brackets – the actual date two weeks after the closing date.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. I’m keen to know what you think.

Do you think the YOU WILL/YOU MUST tone is more professional.

Do you think the YOU WILL/YOU MUST tone helps “keep candidates in their place” and be grateful for the opportunity of work.

Or do you think this ad is polite yet professional?

word nerd CU

Maybe I’m just too old-school – too soft. I hate the YOU WILL/YOU MUST tone. I like a bit of please and thank you even in job ads.

I found this ad “refreshing” – and yet effective in making it clear what candidates could expect in terms of notification.

Please add your views in the comments section below.

Yes, I’m a “job ad nerd” – studying the tone and wording of different ads from different oganisations.

If you want to see an example of a very poorly written BAD AD – you can see one here:

– superior communciations skills
– prior experince with creative flair and attenton to detail

Bad ad


TB media bgrd

If you enjoyed this post – Let’s connect:
If you found this post interesting you can follow me and connect with me.
I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious business communication tips.

Linked In – under Tony Biancotti
Or you can follow this blog.

These days, lots of people and organisations need help with how to COPE with too much work, too much information, too many meetings, delivering difficult news, business writing, effective e-mail, e-mail overload, cross-cultural communication, better social media engagement etc. I like to help people COPE.



One comment on “#Writing job ads – does politeness pay?

  1. efangelist
    August 14, 2015

    Reblogged this on efangelist.

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This entry was posted on December 29, 2014 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , .