How Serious Should You Keep Your Recruitment Ads?

As an employer, one of the key questions you might find yourself asking during the hiring process is this:

How serious should you keep your recruitment ads?

Is there room to crack a joke or two?

At AdBuilder, we love having fun.

But we also know that creating a memorable, stand-out job advertisement is all about finding a balance.

On average, the decision to apply for a job takes a candidate 14 seconds.

You heard me.

Just 14 seconds!

Done correctly, funny job adverts are a chance to draw attention.

A chance to make jobseekers stick around, keep reading and apply.


Funny Recruitment Ads – Do They Work?

Here are three important pieces of information:

Between May and July 2021, there were an estimated 953,000 job vacancies in the UK.

Research estimates that the average jobseeker will need to make 100-200 applications before receiving a job offer.

2.7 million people are currently actively looking for work.

Knowing these things, it’s easy to see how searching for a new job can become grueling, repetitive and annoying.

But can funny recruitment ads reduce these negative feelings, and prompt a rise in application rates?

Maybe. 🤷‍♂️

Humour is undeniably powerful and can make a huge impact if correctly deployed.

But then again, humour is pretty subjective.

While this might not matter if you’re working on, say, a stand-up special intended for a niche audience, it certainly should matter to an employer that’s actively recruiting.

For your funny job adverts to strike gold rather than fall flat, you’ll need to walk a thin line.

In this blog, I’ll explore that line with you, figuring out what makes a funny job ad work, and what tips it over the edge.

Should Elements Be Fun? 🥳

Any quality job advert should include the following elements:

– A searchable and relevant job title

– Important details like location and salary

– A hook that pulls potential applicants in

– The responsibilities of the job

– The requirements for the job 

– Further details about the salary and benefits package

– Company details

– A call-to-action inviting candidates to apply

But where, within this framework, should you inject some comedy?

The Job Title?

One commonly made mistake is to attempt to make the job title itself something a bit too quirky.

Think ‘Code Ninja’, ‘Digital Overlord’ or ‘Retail Jedi’.

It’s a temptingly simple way to express the essence of the role and get across your company vibe early on, but it’s not a good idea.

Think about it like this:

How often do you reckon jobseekers are typing those terms into online search engines?

Not often at all.

You’re losing out on so much visibility by trying to get playful with your job title, and 99% of the time, it won’t be worth it.

To give yourself the best chance of attracting the perfect candidate, you need an SEO-friendly job title.

Keep the fun under wraps in this area.

The Location and Salary Details?

This is a section you’ll probably want to leave succinct and factual.

Salary and location are two things that candidates are most actively seeking from a job ad, so say them plainly, clearly and quickly.

Don’t mess around with your potential future applicants about the important stuff.

The Hook?

Yes! Finally, some room to strut your stuff. 🕺

Without wasting precious space in your ad, the hook is your chance to engage your potential applicant, hold their attention and keep them on the page.

If there’s any good moment for some light-hearted, fun energy, it’s this one.

The Responsibilities and Requirements?

Stick to the facts here, but feel free to throw in some humorous phrasing throughout the main body of inspiration.

For example, this area is a better place to use terms like ‘Code Ninja’ (if you’re still looking to scratch that itch).

The Benefits Package

As with location and salary, let the package speak for itself.

Don’t confuse meaning on important details by giving people room to misinterpret.

The Company Details

Take this chance to show candidates who you are as a company and the culture you have through some slightly less serious wording.

When you’re a casual, friendly company, why describe yourself in an unnatural, stilted manner?

Give an accurate impression, whatever that impression might be.

The Call to Action

If you can see a way to make your call-to-action stand out, go for it.

Make that button as impossible not to press as you can.

What Type of Humour is Appropriate? 🤪

Next question, and it’s a big one:

What type of humour is appropriate to include in a job advert?

The last thing you want is to be divisive and split your candidate pool in half.

However, everyone has a different idea of what might or might not be offensive.

The best rule of thumb is that if you think a joke might offend, you should cut it. ✂️

Even if you’re not 100% sure, it’s better to be safe.

You’re going for crowd-pleasers if you’re choosing to be comedic during your hiring process.

Consider using your workforce to judge the appropriateness of your humour, putting together focus groups and asking for a response to the potential new tone.

Your biggest focus should be on diversity and inclusion, and on ensuring that nothing you say threatens these practices.

Don’t punch down, and make sure you don’t solely ask people very similar to you whether or not they find your ad appropriate.

This is a common form of unconscious bias, known as affinity bias.

It occurs when we listen more deeply to people that look like us, talk like us, or share cultural and personal life experiences in common with us.

Gather opinions from a wide range of perspectives.

Actively listen as you do. 👂

If that fourth way is of particular interest, you can check out AdGrader today.

Your ads will be sparklingly inclusive and ready to share in no time.

Don’t forget to watch out for other forms of unconscious bias, such as:

Confirmation bias – This occurs when instead of looking for objective answers, we look only for answers that confirm existing thoughts and suspicions. We become blind to objective assessment because we’re looking to confirm something we already believe.

The Halo Effect – This occurs when one positive attribute makes us view a person as an angel incapable of doing any wrong. It can be dangerous in the workplace, giving one employee an unfair level of power and leverage over others.

The Horns Effect – This happens when one negative attribute or unfortunate error leaves us unable to appreciate anything good that a person does. We can only view them through a negative lens, and we don’t praise them for things we would praise another for.

Attribution bias – This happens when we decide that we know, without factual backing, why a person has achieved something/gotten to someplace. For instance, we think that a person only ended up in a certain role because of luck, and we offer them less respect as a result. (Even though we don’t know the facts.)

Should the Text or the Creative Be the Fun Element?

There’s more to making job adverts less serious than actively joking around.

If you want to make your listings more exciting and creative without fully diving into the world of ‘funny’ job adverts, you have options.

Why not go for fun, instead of funny?

Why not introduce some interesting visual elements, like videos or pops of bright colour? 📹

A well-designed job posting hosted on your website is a lot less likely to risk narrowing your talent pool than a joke, which might:

  • Go unnoticed
  • Annoy a candidate (if they don’t find it funny)
  • Waste valuable space within a small total word count

And as for the value of some well-designed visuals?

I’ll let this infographic speak for itself …

Crafting Funny Job Adverts That Get the Balance Right

I’ve done my research. 🧑‍🔬

I’ve read about a billion funny job ads (some intended to be and some… not so much).

Now, for your perusal, I’ve narrowed my best advice down to five suggestions.

Use them wisely, and strike that balance between informative and amusing every time.

Don’t Be Unintentionally Hilarious

Some job ads are funny for all the wrong reasons, even when they’re not supposed to be.

Here are some examples… 🤭

– A job ad that’s funny because it’s full of unrealistically demanding requests, like “family obligations should never come before the role” or “you’ll need to be contactable via phone 24/7”.

– A job ad that takes itself way too seriously and begins to come across as satirical as a result. Perspective is everything, and keeping it matters if you want to recruit talented, hard-working individuals.

– A job ad that can’t get the facts straight, and asks for something impossible or incorrect, like five years of experience for an “entry-level” position or ten years of experience with Kubernetes (which was only created in 2014).

Don’t Leave Room for Misinterpretation

On the flip side, you’ll want to avoid making a joke that’s not identifiable as a joke.

If your humour could pass for a typo and a jobseeker isn’t expecting to see it during their hunt for a new role, then guess what?

They’ll probably assume it’s a typo. 📝⁉️

Never let your desire to be fun get in the way of delivering important, easy-to-understand information about the job you’re advertising.

There’s a reason applicants gravitate towards shorter job ads and apply to them 8.4 times more than average, and that reason is simplicity.

Use Niche Humour to Attract Ideal Candidates

Let’s hop in the time machine for a second so that I can give you the perfect example.

Set the dial to 2004. 🎛

In 2004, Google created a billboard.

It was unbranded, and only carried the following information:

{first 10-digit prime found in consecutive digits of e}.com

The answer was 7427466391, and when interested parties went to, they found another equation waiting.

Eventually, the select few that had managed to solve both were invited to interview at Google.

Can you think of a better way to engage, intrigue and amuse while simultaneously attracting ideal, pre-vetted candidates?

I can’t!

If there’s any way at all to apply this kind of thinking to your company, niche humour can be an extremely effective and instructive tool in your recruitment arsenal.

Use Joke-y Phrasing to Engage Jobseekers

This is something I touched on when we talked about funny job advert structure, and when the correct moments to inject some comedy might be. 💉

This type of phrasing isn’t a full-on joke plus punchline type of deal, it’s more subtle.

It brings a hint of levity to the tone of your ad.

Without distracting from the content, joke-y and light-hearted inclusions (like the use of slang, abbreviation or casual terms) keep jobseekers engaged in a way that drier ads might not be able to.

Stay True to Your Brand Voice

This is the suggestion I want to leave you with – because it’s arguably the most important of all.

Focus up and listen to this. 👀

How serious your recruitment ads should be is determined, primarily, by the kind of branding and tone of voice that you’re looking to cultivate.

You should always be true to your brand’s intended voice, whether it’s a humorous and approachable Innocent Smoothies-style voice or something more clear-cut and to-the-point.

A bad hire can cost a significant amount, and one of the best ways to get yourself a bad hire is to give an incorrect impression of what it will be like to work for your company.

Always Focus On Candidate Experience First 🥇

Whatever the kind of tone you decide to adopt in your job postings, AdBuilder can help.

Our service offers you four distinct, fully optimised versions of your ad – an Informal version, a Formal version, a Simple version and an Edgy version.

We wear a lot of different hats over here. 🧢👒🎩

As long as you’re consistent and you continue to prioritise candidate experience, you’ll be on a good track.

63% of candidates feel that employers don’t communicate enough during the application process.

Make sure you’re in the 37%.

For more hiring advice, stay on our blog and check out the following posts:

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James Ball
Written by James Ball

James is the founder and owner of AdBuilder and a recruitment expert from Sutton Coldfield in the UK.  He regularly advises companies on how to improve and get the maximum ROI from their recruitment processes and advertising.

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