The Secret to Writing Catchy Job Ads that Attract Millennial Talent

Wishing you could catch the eye of awesome millennial talent and entice them to apply for your role? It’s time to abandon your lazy writing clutch and write job ads with emotional appeal. I promise it’s not even that hard.

I’m going to share five super-secret-spy-squirrel things you should be doing to write for a younger audience

How to write a job ad that millennials will read

It’s every recruiters dream to whip up an epic job ad that connects only with the perfect candidates and practically does your short-listing for you. Who doesn’t want to save time and money avoiding poor-fit hires?

Although that reality is unlikely for some (big brands/grad programs), a job ad can be written to connect with more of the people who’ll succeed in the role and thrive in your workplace culture. Especially when you’ve done your homework and candidate profiling and you know the values, beliefs and attitudes that will shine.

Now, I know sometimes those GenY/Z types can seem fussy and impossible to please, but really, they’re just asking you to be better marketers; to stop pushing out crap content; to stop the copy and paste, recycled-the-same-way-since-1952 clichéd jargon that doesn’t accurately explain the role, or the organisation, or the experience one talented young thing with options could expect.

It’s more than What’s In It For Me? (WIIFM)

You must learn to communicate how you, the opportunity, and the applicant can create mutual value. Let’s start with language.

1. Write in a conversational tone

Cut out the dreary corporate jargon and buzz words because millennials aren’t paying attention.

As insta-consumers, we have a finely tuned filter that blocks out the verbose and unnecessary and seeks the meaningful. So, if your job ad is meaningless jibber jabber - expect that potential candidates will skim it and flick through to the next one without a batter of their luscious organic kale-fed lashes.

Best tip here is to write to them in a conversational tone. Like you’re sitting with them and chattin’ like I’m talking to you right now. Use your yours, you’re, you will, we’re, our.

Stop referring to your organisation in the third person, for goodness sake. Third person is the fastest way to kill your connection and coax out the boredom yawns.

Yikes, I’m feeling the need to yawn right now just thinking about Org X’s “exciting opportunity” and its exhausting list of duties and responsibilities. Awwwppp *yawn* there it is.

Photo by Crew on Unsplash

Photo by Crew on Unsplash

2. Make them feel special

Millennials are special people. I’m one, so I’m qualified to comment. One of the reasons millennials are special is that we like to feel special. So anyone who can make us feel special, can make us feel like we’re the only one in the room, you know, like when Johnny pulls Baby out from the corner and they steal everyone’s attention when they do ‘that dance’… yes, that kind of special; anyone who can do that is going to receive our hungry eyes and a whole lotta love in return.

Right, right, right – and what genius advice can I share to help you do that?

Know what they want. Know why they want it. Know how you’ll give it to them. And then, show them you know.

3. Find your flow (less bullets is more)

Traditional job ads are an example of lazy writing, over-relying on bullet points to communicate all.the.points. Key points, good, yes, but not every point because like, this is totally 2019 and chances are your job won’t even exist in two years so, like, I doubt every single detail you just listed will still be relevant in like five minutes time anyway.


Let’s head back to the first tip, which is to write in a conversational tone. Talk to your talent like they’re a person and not your keyworded resume screening software. For the love of chocolate.

It is possible to write full sentences that sell your opportunity in a compelling way.

Bullet points = not compelling, because they’re not emotional. Full sentences that tell a story = emotions = compelling. There’s your secret.

4. Emphasise your mission and values

Millennials want heart alignment with their employer. They’ll be loyal and give you their best years and ideas when they believe what you believe.

Most job ads I read emphasise the ASX Top 100 something or other blah blurb which means nothing to a lot of people. Especially us young wrinkle-free folk.

I don’t care if you make all that money… at what cost to humanity? The environment? Your employees?

Your company’s age, turnover, and global dominance is impressive, yes. But the *majority* of millennials want to connect with purpose. Vastly different from them baby boomer folk, purely because we’re all products of the environment and economy of our time.

Boomers *needed* a reliable pay check to feed their family, and even now, probably still wouldn’t care too much about connecting with their employer’s purpose at this late stage in the game where they’re looking for a reliable pay check and pleasant office-home to spend their remaining operational years before their model is retired from use.

Tell me I’m wrong.

Photo by Paloma A on Unsplash

Photo by Paloma A on Unsplash

5. Give ‘em what they want

Bless ‘em, the millennials believe that work and life should be worthwhile and have meaning. It’s an optimistic view of the world but this is their approach to job hunting –

Who can help me get the most out of my life? Where will I have the most opportunities to self-develop and be my best self? Where can I satisfy my insatiable need to contribute to something greater than myself as part of my work?

All said with a pensive glazed stare into the clouds while sipping coffee from a Keep Cup.

Millennials seek employment opportunities that provide connection with purpose, self-development, coaching, ongoing conversations and feedback, and strengths-based development, because my-job-is-my-life.

Contrary to popular belief… your position on the ASX doesn’t rank.

Change your script to sell the opportunity.

Write to sell the job opportunity

Aight, so, what about those emoji-thingees?

Safe to use ‘em, or not?

It all depends on your employer brand voice and the type of talent you’re trying to attract.

If you are a pretty extroverted anything-goes brand then you might chuck a few emojis into your job ad copy to emphasise a humorous moment as intended.

I would never recommend writing an entire job ad in emoji, unless of course you are fluent and what you need is an emoji fluent social media community manager. That might be fun to read. Please tag me in your job ad if you do that, I wanna see if I can decipher the young people’s code.


I’m fresh outta secrets

Oh my god you made it to the end – props. Your job ads must really suck.

The thing is, our constant connectivity with the online world and demand for content has led to a lot of the same shit being published that all looks and sounds the same but says nothing.

Job ads all look and sound the same (bar the company name and logo), and often say nothing substantial. Which means they’re turning up a pile of so-so and not mind-is-blown applications <CUE> poor hires, more hires, more monies and so on).

It really is not that hard to stand out and be noticed. All you gotta do is know your audience and write to them. Straight up Marketing 101.

Need help writing catchy job ad copy?

That’s my jam >>> get in touch and ask me about it <<<

* An important message for the sensitive – generational traits are generalised stereotypes and are not a one-size-fits-all assessment. Yes, I’m working with generalisations here – I’m a bit X and a bit Y, but predominantly Y. I don’t cry about it when the fuddy duddies accuse my people of lacking employer loyalty (I’ve worked with myself for nearly three years now… that’s decent, I’m almost my longest serving boss), and being lazy and entitled (how dare you!). But just like the O’Doyles, majority rules.