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!


by in Job Ads