The Worst Job Advert Ever? Mistakes You Can Avoid

We recently came across what might just be one of the worst-written job adverts we've ever seen. Part of a job ad's purpose is to put off candidates who would not be a good fit for the role, but it is ALSO supposed to attract the right sort of candidate.

We pity the poor candidate who subjects themselves to this sort of punishment!

How to convince a candidate that you're probably the worst boss in the world

This web developer role was recently posted on Indeed: 10 years' experience required for a starting salary of £25,000. Wow. Here are the main requirements.

You Will:

  • Implement best web strategies
  • Ensure clients benefit from websites
  • Ensure clients receive ROI
  • Use processes and techniques
  • Make sure clients understand the work you are doing
  • Be patient with clients and pass your knowledge
  • Public speaking
  • Speak to press and media
  • You must produce a revenue of £10,000.00k per month

Never mind that some of this is marketing and not development: you are also required to be a spokesperson for the company AND take responsibility for £120K revenue generation annually (although, if you could do that, WHY on earth would you apply for a £25K job?) Anyway, the employer also wanted:

Efficiency, good business acumen, punctuality, team player, excellent customer service, working after hours, dedicated, ambitious.

... among other things. Just what every web developer with ten years' experience is looking for: unpaid overtime as standard.  Next came work related tasks:

  • Building websites
  • Enhancing websites
  • Maintaining existing websites
  • Make sure websites are up to date
  • Creating e-mails
  • Setting up client PC’s
  • Creating additional plug ins.

OK so now you're also IT support. On top of that, one of the things you learn as a recruiter is that job adverts that are set out like contracts do not win people over.

Saying what you DON'T want in a job ad just makes you sound angry

Next, they decided to tell anyone who was still reading what they didn't want. Yes, it was in bold too.


  • Negative attitude
  • Suffer from being lazy
  • Difficult to manage
  • Not ambitious
  • Annoying
  • Not a team member
  • Leave work on the dot
  • Cannot leave your mobile alone
  • Loud

Next the writer remembered that there were some 'important skills' that were needed. Time for another shopping list:

Java, WordPress, Joomla, being able to speak with any and all types of people, excellent web development, you will want to be the best, eager to learn new skills, ability to compose professional e-mails, superb client management skills

We've edited it down, there were more.

One thing the job advert didn't mention...

... anything nice you could expect whilst working for this company.

Nothing about what the role itself might offer: career development, chance to work on exciting projects, high-profile clients, job satisfaction. Nothing about what the business could offer in general: training / mentoring, friendly team, work socials, health plan, gym membership etc.

In fact it didn't mention ONE THING that a prospective employee could expect. And it continued...

Only apply if you are:

  • Work hard
  • Positive
  • Passionate
  • Team player
  • Ambitious
  • Want a career
  • Not annoying
  • Not a clock watcher

The point of this post is not to have a laugh at someone's expense (OK, maybe a little bit). But the point is to demonstrate how you can avoid falling into any of the same traps. 

How to write a good job advert

Put yourself in the perfect candidate's shoes

Above all, please assume good faith. ANY candidate worth their salt is dedicated, passionate and a team player. ANY good candidate reads the job ad carefully and will only apply for roles they are suited to. Bad candidates might adopt a 'scatter-gun' approach, but that can't be helped. If you need a buffer between you and your candidates then hire a recruiter - there's many other advantages to this approach.

As simply as we can say it: you are NOT trying to put the wrong person off; you're trying to attract the right person. Give your candidates some credit!

Not so much what you want, more who you are

What sort of company are you and what size? What do you do? How many employees do you have, how many offices, what makes you stand out from your competitors? And most important, where is the opening?

Sell the benefits

Shout about the perks you have: gym membership, free parking, training, career progression, casual dress code, work from home options etc.

Give a salary

Would you apply for a role with no salary?

Avoid corporate jargon

Make your advert easy to read, fun and friendly.

Project the candidate into the role

We advise referring to candidates as 'you' in the advert so they can imagine themselves working for your company.

Check for typos 

Check, check and check again. We know it sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed how easy mistakes are to make. Run it past a colleague to see what they think. Spell check. Proof read. Do it all again.

Above all, remember it's about a positive candidate experience. We've more advice on this here.