Recruiting the right people (Part 3)

Step 2: Advertising the role

Step 1 of Assured Bookkeeping Solutions’ recruitment process covered profiling the perfect candidate. Having you have a clear understanding of the profile of the perfect candidate, it is important to draw their attention to your vacancy. The content of advert(s) promoting the vacancy must therefore be written with them specifically in mind.

Surely it’s better to get 50 applicants of which 10 are of high quality rather than 250 applicants of which 3 are of very high quality. It is therefore important to remember that your advert should a tool for weeding out unsuitable candidates. Ensure that the wording of your advert will appeal to ‘perfect’ candidates and not to people who would be wasting your time – and theirs – by applying for the job.

Our advertisements normally have a headline that is in the form of a question. For example, our recent advert asked “Are you the bookkeeper that we are looking for?. We believe that asking a question will draw the reader’s attention more than simply stating a fact like “Bookkeeper required”.

The main content of our adverts will draw the reader’s attention to 2-3 of the major technical attributes that we require of them and 2-3 things that we expect of their personality. By being vague (‘hard worker’, ‘work well in a team or alone’, etc), you are not going to make ‘time wasters’ think twice about applying and the vacancy will not necessarily seem attractive to you perfect candidate.

We end our adverts with a ‘call to action’ for the reader – normally asking them to email us for an application form before a specific deadline. I will explain in my next post why we use an application form.

At Assured Bookkeeping Solutions, we like to use a variety of channels to distribute our advert in order to try to ensure that the people that know about our vacancy include our perfect candidate!

When deciding how to advertise your vacancy, something to consider is geographic location. There may be people currently located in different parts of the country to you but who have links to your town. They may want to return to your town, but cannot find the right job to move back for. What happens if one of these people is your perfect candidate, but is unaware of your vacancy?

Assured Bookkeeping Solutions has used various channels to promote its vacancies, some with more success than others.


If like us, the size of your newspaper advert is limited due to budget constraints, don’t be tempted to add to many words in the available space. We have found that it is better to use a larger font (8.5 or 9) in a newspaper advert, again to capture attention, rather than using small fonts and cramming in as many words as possible. We have found that, typically, the weekly jobs guide of our local newspaper provides the highest number of candidates for the roles that we have advertised and that simply placing the advert in the classifieds has not been as successful.

Here’s a good way to avoid unwanted sales calls from recruitment companies that have seen your advert in the newspaper, therefore know that you are recruiting and want to sell their services to you: Don’t use your business’ name, logo or contact details, instead get candidates to contact you via a gmail account! If your advert is appealing enough, people will contact you, regardless of the lack of branding. Of course, once they have contacted you, you can provide them with as much information as you want about your business, its products/services and the role itself.


Sometimes we tend to overlook that people that attend church also work during the week and therefore advertising via churches is a good way of promoting a vacancy. It will cost little, if anything, to advertise your role via church newsletters or notice boards. One of the benefits is that you should be pretty confident that candidates that such adverts generate are of good moral standing. We have found some strong candidates advertising positions this way.

Web sites

We have post vacancies onto Gumtree. There is no charge to post jobs and the site has a lot of visitors. To be honest, we have found that, in general, applications via Gumtree have been weak, although of course there is always the possibility that our perfect candidate is searching for jobs via Gumtree!

It is possible to post job advertisements free of charge on job websites, such as, although the number of free adverts that you are allowed to post is limited. Your advert is available nationally on a web site that exists solely for people to find jobs – and at no cost to you. It is therefore an inexpensive way of trying to target people who may be looking to move to your town but who are currently living away in a different part of the country.

Social media

Although social media is still in its infancy, it is a good low cost (free!) way to advertise roles in addition to, and not at the expense of, more traditional channels. It is possible to set up your social networking accounts to that they ‘talk to each other’. For example, by announcing the job on our facebook site, the same information automatically gets posted to my twitter and LinkedIn accounts, as well as to our company website!

The above list is far from exhaustive. There are plenty of other low cost ways of promoting your vacancies so be creative in the ways that you advertise. For example, do any of your business contacts know of possible strong candidates that you could contact and encourage to apply?

My final piece of advice with regards to promoting job vacancies is to ensure that you ask candidates how they became aware of the vacancy. This allows you to use successful distribution channels for future job vacancies and to avoid unsuccessful channels, especially those with costs attached to them.

In my next post I will discuss the screening of applicants and why I see the role of an application form as important.

Please feel free to post your thoughts on this article and any tips that you have with regards to advertising vacancies within small businesses.

Thanks for reading!

Ian Blackburn

About Assured Bookkeeping (Pty) Ltd

Providers of bookkeeping & payroll services, accounting and tax services
This entry was posted in bookkeeping, Recruitment and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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