Why Tone of Voice Matters in Job Advertising

22 Apr 2020

If your job advertising tone of voice is more ‘bland’ than ‘on-brand’, then you’re missing a vital opportunity to connect with candidates.

What is tone of voice in job advertising?

Tone of voice is how your brand personality, character and values come through in the way you communicate. Alongside your visual identity, your tone of voice is part of your employer brand toolkit. It tells people who you are, why you’re different and why you’re trustworthy.

Your tone of voice consists of the linguistic decisions you make whenever you speak or write, including how you use things like:

  • Vocabulary
  • Syntax or sentence structure
  • Grammar
  • Emojis
  • Humour

To put it simply, it’s not what you say (although obviously that’s important), it’s how you say it.

Think about you speak day to day. Your tone changes depending on who you’re talking to and the situation. For example, you might use one tone when you’re in a business meeting and a different tone when you’re out with mates.

Your tone also changes depending on the emotional state of the person you’re speaking with. If someone’s upset, your tone might soften or become more compassionate. You probably won’t make jokes.

In the same way that we naturally adjust our tone to the people around us, your recruitment marketing tone of voice needs to match your audience, their emotions and their situation. To be heard in today’s competitive talent market, you need to speak your candidate’s language.

Why’s tone of voice important when writing a job advertisement?

For every person on earth, approximately 1.7MB of data is created every second. 500 million tweets and 2 million blog posts are published every single day, and we’re exposed to over 5,000 adverts. The phrase ‘big data’ doesn’t begin to cover it.

In this content overload, attracting jobseekers and retaining their interest can be a real challenge. Research from Microsoft found that the average attention span has dropped to just 8 seconds – that’s not a lot of time to make an impression, so every word needs to be meaningful.

Your language reveals your culture and your values, and this information is like recruiting gold dust.

  • 94% of candidates consider your employer brand before applying for a job
  • 77% of jobseekers wouldn’t apply for a job if they disagreed with or didn’t know your company’s values
  • 50% of those surveyed by Glassdoor said that company culture is more important to salary when it comes to job satisfaction

For many organisations, your job advert could be the first experience someone has with your brand. Your language choices will shape how they see your company, their expectations of you as an employer and whether they can see a future for themselves at your organisation.

On the other hand, your recruitment advert may be the latest in a stream of interactions a candidate has had with your brand, as both a consumer and as a candidate. There’s a web of online and offline touchpoints between jobseekers and your company, all of which shape the candidate’s expectations, behaviour and attitude.

Recruitment tone of voice vs. corporate brand tone of voice

Research by LinkedIn found that candidates are 2-4 times less likely to apply if the tone of your job advertising doesn’t match your brand tone of voice. When it comes to branding and your employer brand, consistency is key.

But in the same way that you change your tone depending on who you’re talking to, it’s important to reflect the different needs, goals and sentiments of your target candidates, as opposed to your customers.

Your candidates have different priorities to your consumers. Even if they share similar characteristics, their goal for their interaction with you is different.

There are few purchases that are as important, time-consuming and potentially life changing as a new job, and the way you talk to candidates should reflect that. They’re not buying a watch or making a dinner reservation – they’re making a life decision.

In crafting your recruitment tone of voice, you should be thinking ‘how can I adapt our brand voice to our candidates?’ rather than throwing the brand guides out the window.

Your marketing team are perfectly placed to help you with this. They’re experts in branding and communications and will know your corporate brand guidelines inside out.

And let’s face it, the minute marketing get a whiff that you’re working on tone of voice, they’ll be there faster than you can say ‘brand guidelines’. So be proactive and involve your marketing team in the project. They’ll be glad you’re seeking their input and they’ll bring a heap of knowledge and expertise to your team.

Finding your voice

Defining your recruitment tone of voice is about having a detailed understanding of your audience. You need to know your ideal candidate: what’s important to them, what are their goals and how do they speak? These things will help you define your tone of voice.

Building candidate personas will give you a clear idea of what matters to your candidates and allow you to create a recruitment tone of voice that connects with jobseekers. We have a handy template for creating candidate personas – it’s free to download here.

Importantly, your tone of voice should be unique. Candidates should be able to recognise that it’s you and understand your values, just by your tone. I’d highly recommend this article by SEMRush if you’re looking for a step-by-step guide to designing your tone of voice. It’s written for marketers, but is easily transferable to recruitment.

Developing your unique recruitment marketing tone of voice will help you write better job adverts: ads that engage candidates and keep their attention. So when you next come to write a job advertisement, don't forget your tone of voice.