July 4, 2009

How to Write a Help Wanted Ad

By Paul Bieber

You’ve thought about my advice…now is the time to upgrade your staff…there are a lot of great people out there looking for work…or worse…someone reached out and took one of your great people…and now you are going to write that help wanted ad. You can waste your money and time, or you can read on for some tips in writing a help wanted ad for the glass industry.

I never had luck with a blind ad. The point being, you don’t want to fire the person on the staff until you have the replacement. If the person is worth firing, just “do it”, and get it over with. You will probably be better off without this person. When you interview off a blind ad, someone in your company will see this; it is inevitable. A phone call, a fax comes in, or a comment from a friend, to a friend, and suddenly you are embarrassed. This has happened to everyone at one time or another. If you have to ask the rest of your crew to work a little extra, they will probably thank you for getting rid of the one who wasn’t pulling their freight.

If you have to place a blind ad, don’t use your own PO Box, don’t use your own fax line or email address. Rent a PO box in a different zip code than the one you are in or, use the box system provided by most newspapers and magazines. If one of your current employees sees you are advertising with a blind box, this will spread in your company and suddenly everyone will be looking over their shoulder. Your productivity and morale will go right down the tubes.

When you use a blind ad, you will get less responses. Many applicants won’t respond to a blind ad for fear it is their own company. They don’t know who you are and may not trust that you will hold their resume in confidence. If you want your ad to be totally blind, you can’t say much about the job or your company. If you put enough information in to make your job look interesting, a smart person from your industry will figure it out, and that defeats the blind box concept.

So, let the person go, and place a very public ad.

Make the ad a selling piece for your company. A thin two-line ad, represents your company as a thin, cheap company. You don’t need graphics or boxes and borders. You do need information that will draw in the best applicants.

Here are some very important things that must go in your ad:

•A headline that describes your specific job. Most newspapers alphabetize the help wanted listings by the type of job. If your headline says “self-starter”, your job will be listed in the “S” section

•What you really want is a headline that says “Glazier” or “Office Help” or “Driver.” Don’t be cute in your headline. Leave that to the ad agencies with plenty of money to spend.

•Lead off with a short, accurate description of the job.

•Follow that with a reference to your geographic area. If you are in small city, you may not need this, but in a medium or large city, this is one of the first things applicants look for.

•Next you want to mention the requirements you have for the specific job–hours, car or truck required, language skills needed, certifications needed, and specific skills. If you are looking for entry level, say it here. If you will train, say it here. If you want someone who can cut heavy glass, for instance, or can drive a fork lift, this is spot to write your details.

•Now you want to show the reasons why an applicant should consider your company. How long have you been in business or how reliable is the work, in the sense of full 40 hour weeks, or no layoffs. Is your company growing? Mention if this is a new position required because of growth. If you have promoted someone and you are replacing them, put that in the ad. Applicants want companies that are growing or promoting from within.

•Next give a few details of what you are offering. Do not show dollars you are paying, but do say if the job is salary, hourly, or a combination, maybe with an incentive. Give your benefits package a full line or more. If you have medical, dental, vision, disability, or any other health benefits, put them in the ad. If you have a 401k, mention it. Don’t put in vacation time or sick days allotted. I’ll talk more about those later. If you offer any education benefits—paying for classes, or time off for school, mention it. These are great selling points for people who are trying hard to improve themselves.

•Close the ad with how you want to communicate with the applicant. Are you accepting phone calls, maybe between a certain time? Are you accepting e-mail? Do you want a mailed resume? Do you prefer a walk-in for the application? Place your company name, address, phone, or e-mail, and you are ready to go.

Go where?

Let’s review the last bullet point. If the job is a factory or manual labor job, don’t ask for resumes or e-mails. Use a phone or walk-in. If the job is an estimator or office person, go only with a resume. You want to see how the person communicates in writing. If you leave a phone number, list a couple of times that are good to call, one being early or late in the day. This gives someone who is working a chance to call on their off time. If someone calls other than your prescribed times, they are either very pushy, or can’t follow basic directions. Is this the person you want?

Next week we’ll talk about reading the resumes you get, answering the phone calls and the e-mails, all with the intent of getting better employees for your company.