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I’m reading a great new book about winning political fights — it’s called The Fixer by Bradley Tusk. It reminded me of a powerful marketing tool (“self-interest”) to win over candidates through job ads.

What’s a job candidate’s top self-interest? You could do worse than to use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I’ve transposed the normal Maslow Needs into this Candidate Needs pyramid:

Hierarchy of candidate needs on job ads

Starting with the bottom of the pyramid, here are some ideas of things to put in your job ads that might appeal to a candidate’s self-interest:

Basic Needs (Security & Survival) — Job Ad Tips

Let’s start at the bottom of the pyramid. Here we need to meet a candidate’s basic needs (security & survival). Some tips:

  1. Compensation — Mention comp. in your job ad or at least point to salary ranges from third-parties (Glassdoor, Payscale, etc.). This is what candidates look at first in a job ad (see this job advertisement heatmap).
  2. List of benefits — Did you know that the apply rate goes up from 1% to 5% for each additional benefit you list in your job ad (from 7.4% apply rate with zero benefits to 22.5% apply rate for 4+ benefits) (see this Appcast study)
  3. Office location — A good night’s rest is tough if there’s a long commute. Explain exactly where your office is and you might even consider including a map with easy directions (right on the job ad!)
  4. Health — Mention details of your health insurance directly in your job ad (or clearly link off to it)
  5. Relocation — If you’ll invest in relocating your candidate, mention it in your job ad.


Social Needs (Love and Belonging) — Job Ad Tips

Next we move to the middle of the pyramid. These “social needs” are about the candidate feeling loved and belonging to something. Some tips:

  1. Who does the candidate report to? Give them a hint of who their boss is.
  2. What else does the team look like? Does it have a name? Roughly what size is it?
  3. What’s a day in the life of the person in this role? Give examples and include a fun one (e.g. “Happy Hours on early Fridays”)
  4. Diversity & Inclusion — Consider including an awesome diversity statement like one of these.
  5. If you’re a family-friendly biz (shouldn’t we all be!?), then mention “family” in your job ad (e.g. in the Benefits or About Us sections).
  6. Mission Statement — what’s your company or team’s mission? Many candidates want to be part of a movement. Facebook opens up many of their job ads with this: “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.


Esteem & Self-Actualization — Job Ad Tips

Finally, we’re at the top of the funnel. Here it’s all about the candidate’s need for high self-esteem and reaching their higher purpose. Some tips:

  1. Personal development — Do you provide training to help your employees gain mastery over skills? Mention it.
  2. What role could the candidate get promoted to? Does your company have a story of an entry-level person reaching the leadership level? Mention it!
  3. Are there any big-world problems your organization is solving —  talk about it.
  4. Emphasize the freedom that success at your company provides your employees.
  5. The U.S. Army’s motto nails the self-actualization category with this powerful motto: “Be all you can be.”

A good rule of thumb is that a job ad should have at least 2 items from each of the 3 buckets above.

Why I wrote this?

The team and I here at Ongig focus our entire business on building software to create the best job ads. And effective job ads need to appeal to the candidate’s self-interest needs!

Rob Kelly

Co-Founder and CEO at Ongig
I am a 3-time CEO, author and proud father of my preemie baby Maverick! We created Ongig to transform your job descriptions to boost quality candidates and diversity. Ongig supercharges your job pages through video, images, chat, social sharing, microsite creation and much more. Jobs can be more easily found through Artificial Intelligence-based job search and all pages are Mobile and SEO- optimized. Ongig also analyzes the text of your JDs and our pro copywriting team will rewrite your job descriptions. Early clients of Ongig include Salesforce, Yelp, GoDaddy, Verizon, Intel & Autodesk. Request a demo if you'd like to chat about partnering!

by in Job Ads