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How to write the perfect job ad

Published on: 28 Feb 2009

“Laid back pharmacy with limited service offering seeks pharmacist willing to work long hours with difficult customers for a low hourly rate. No MUR incentives.”

It’s pretty obvious which job listings are going to send the best candidates running, but faced with a page of adverts all vying for the attention of the industry’s most eligible job seekers, how do you make them want to pick up the phone and dial your number?

Numark member Shamir Patel is co-owner of the North Meols Pharmacy group in the north west, which employs over 100 people. He says that before you even think about putting pen to paper, you need to be clear in your own mind what the job is going to entail, and what your ideal candidate would look like. What skills are missing in your team and what personality type might fit in best? Shamir Patel advises: “You may know the job title, but in order to write the best ad you need to be totally clear what the role involves.”

Keeping this ideal worker in mind, you could take inspiration from other adverts already out there. Shamir Patel says: “Once you have decided where you are going to place your ad, take a look at your competition.” These should give you an idea what your ad will need to do to stand out from the crowd.

Another source of help could be your own staff. Ask them what attracted them to the pharmacy and what they enjoy about working there, then highlight these points first in your advert.

It is important to give readers a feel for your pharmacy. Is it busy with lots of staff, or might the pharmacist have to work on their own some days? Do you offer lots of innovative services, or could the pharmacist stay in the back dispensing for most of the day? There are likely to be pharmacists out there perfect for any of these scenarios, but you need to make sure you find the right one.

It is particularly important to mention salary and other financial benefits. Ravi Patel, C+D’s Pre-registration Graduate of the Year 2008, says a key point to include is whether you offer incentives for services. He says while some pharmacists are “happy just to sit back and do dispensing”, others would be keen to help with services but may want some reimbursement, for example for MURs. He adds: “It’s not just about financial gain, but that would make people want to do it.”

If you’re trying to recruit locums, he says, you do need to tell them your hourly rate. “Some locums are locuming because it’s more lucrative, so do put hourly rates in adverts to make sure no-one wastes their time,” he explains.

Once you have the content sorted, take another look and ensure your ad sends out the right messages.

Christiana Ensam, a scientific recruitment consultant at agency Reed Scientific, says positive words such as “adaptable, proactive approach” rather than “willing to work long hours” can make all the difference. And Ravi Patel says even a detail as simple as the words “friendly staff” could be a deciding factor.

Miss Ensam also advises: “Always check and double check your spelling and grammar; avoid exclamation marks and writing in capitals that can make job ads difficult to read.”

Along with the detail of the job itself, you’ll need to give a closing date for application and details on how to apply. Shamir Patel advises offering an email address or mobile number as some candidates will only be able to call after work.

Above all, though, he says it’s important to realise that although a job advert is the first step to attracting the right candidates, the process doesn’t end there. He says it is also vital to follow up any enquiries from candidates positively, being friendly and receptive.

The advert might not be your only chance at convincing your perfect candidate, but it is your opportunity to attract their initial interest, so getting it right is worth the effort.