And another thing.

I work very closely with the lovely people at the Bernard Hodes Group, But the passing thoughts, homeless ideas and ill-informed prejudices expressed here are mine alone. I hope you enjoy some of them.

Monday July 16th 2012

How to write a good job ad (for a photographer)

I was recently asked to write something for www.photographers.co.uk on what makes a good job ad. Here it is in full. (It’s a little long, but there’s quite a lot to say. Job ads are deceptively tricky little blighters to nail down.)

“In many ways, a good job ad is created before you start writing. It’s all in the preparation. You need to collect your thoughts, collate your ad’s content and response details and, most importantly, decide what your key information is going to be.

Research tells us that the key points in job ads are the job title and location. Whether photographers are searching for full-time, part-time, or causal jobs, these are the elements of the ad they look at first – and, as importantly, these are the aspects that search engines weight most highly. For instance, on Google 45% of job searches are job-title specific.

So when you’re advertising on this site – or indeed anywhere – the first thing to decide is what your job title and location will be. Avoid unusual titles and jargon that you might use within your business. These won’t be understood by the photographers you’re looking for and they’ll be missed by any search engines that rank your ad.

The trick, of course, is to target the right people with your job title and that’s where the Google Adword tool can really help. Free to use, this online tool will show you how many photographers are searching for jobs with your title and what are the most popular search terms for photography contracts. It’s also worth bearing in mind that Photographers.co.uk has been optimized for the terms “photography jobs” so using these words should push your ad up the Google rankings.

Once you’re happy with your job title and location, it’s time to focus on your all-important first paragraph. Online, people tend to scan ads rather than read them line by line. So the most effective job ads are written in an inverse pyramid structure with all the key details in the opening paragraph. Ideally, this first para (which will appear on the preview page on this site) should include the key experience your photographer will need and the main selling points of your job.

Try to focus on one or two selling points in your opening paragraph, rather than several. On average, people see about 600 ads a day. So if you want yours to cut through this clutter and stick in the memory, you have to be single-minded. Pick the most compelling aspects of the job and bring these to life. For instance, “gain invaluable experience assisting a well-respected wedding photographer” is more convincing that a long list of details about a one-day contract.

Get your job title, location and opening para right, then everything else will fall into place – you can bullet-point the main responsibilities and essential experience if that makes life easier. If you want to check the style or grammar in your ad, the Economist Style Guide is a good reference tool. But it’s worth remembering that job ads aren’t an exercise in fine writing – a personal message that reflects your business is more appealing than even the most perfectly polished prose.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, try and enjoy the process. Writing a job ad is never going to be as much fun as a three-week pool-side shoot in Antigua, but it shouldn’t be a painful process.”

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Andy Rigden