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Job Adverts – The 8 Second Rule

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Job Adverts – The 8 Second Rule

Job Adverts – The 8 Second Rule
August 23
15:06 2019
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We live in an age of too much information and not enough time. Multiple devices and a mind-boggling array of media channels, it comes as no surprise when the scientists tell us our attention span is shrinking. By James Tyrrell – Commercial Manager,

A Microsoft study suggested human attention span has dropped to less than that of a goldfish. If you believe the study, at 9 seconds the goldfish are lauding a whole second over their human counterparts.

So, how does this apply to job adverts?

Firstly, we must recognise that job ‘adverts’ need be considered in the same context as any other form of consumer advertising. Adverts are designed to win our interest and attention. Sounds obvious, however this is so often ignored during the recruitment process. It is common to see an internal job description posted online, with an expectation that candidates just need to be informed of the vacancy’s existence, without any concerted effort to ‘sell’ the opportunity.Quote

Recruiters are operating in a ‘candidate’s market’. Industry faces severe skill-shortages in key operational areas. Add to this near-zero unemployment, an uncertain economic climate and the ‘millennial jobseeker’ placing increased emphasis on employer values and culture. It all adds up to a highly competitive sector where recruiters can struggle to connect with candidates.

In order to engage today’s jobseeker, adverts need to be constructed in the context of an 8 second attention span and skim-reading being the new norm. Employers must recognise the need to sell the opportunity and provide potential candidates with reasons why this vacancy and this employer are right for them.

A reproduction of the internal job description, with endless bullet-points detailing duties will not be effective. Adverts should be about selling the sizzle, not providing a detailed ingredient list.

In that initial skim read, a succesful advert must communicate enough of the key information to win a candidate’s interest. This is the hardest part but once a candidate is engaged you can then go on to provide more detail. Think about it like a Youtube advert, you have 8 seconds to convince someone not to click ‘skip’!

When drafting the advert, the recruiter ultimately needs to answer one question: ‘why should I (the candidate) apply for this role?’

To answer effectively, I would suggest there are several key points that need to be communicated in a clear and concise manner:

Salary- the number one reason we move jobs is to earn more money, provide this reason by listing a competitive salary package. What else do you offer- bonuses? health care? Car allowance? If there are internal ‘sensitivities’ perhaps list a salary range.
Location- close second to the above is work/life balance. Easily commutable? Desirable location? Good schools? Local amenities? List them all.
Employer- why is your company a good place to work? Talk about successes, turnover, growth but also culture, values and vision for the future.
The role- do not list endless bullet-points! What are the most attractive elements of this role, what makes it interesting or exciting? Perhaps ask the hiring manager to give you the top 3 reasons why someone will be intrigued by this role.
Past experience- briefly communicate the key skills & experience the right candidate would bring. Leave out the obvious that any decent candidate should possess (e.g. a managerial level position? Ability to operate MS Office should be a given). Concentrate on the must-haves but be as open as possible (e.g. don’t list ‘minimum 5 years’ experience’. If the otherwise perfect candidate rocked up with 4 years, would you discount them?)

The above points are not necessarily exhaustive and there will be differing opinions regarding order of importance and advert structure. However, the key is getting the information across in the quickest and most concise manner possible.

If your advert can be skim-read and all the key information garnered within 8 seconds, then you will be best-placed to attract the interest of good quality candidates.

The best candidates are in the most demand and therefore have the greatest choice. Make it easy for them to interact with your opportunity!

P.s. An article emphasising the importance of brevity that consists of 10 paragraphs- the irony is not lost on me! However, in this instance you probably clicked on the initial social media posting which performed the job of ‘winning’ your attention vs. all the other posts on screen. This isn’t about 8 second content- it’s about 8 seconds to win your reader’s interest for the rest of the article. And if you have read this far, I guess it worked!

Would you like help with planning a recruitment campaign? The team are on hand to offer advice & guidance on how to effectively attract food & drink talent, just call 01625 502947 or email


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