Crafting Attractive Job Listings

There are many factors that make hiring top talent difficult, but one thing that is in your control is how you present your company in help wanted ads

Crafting Attractive Job Listings

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Chances are good that you’re hiring. Part of the reason positions are so hard to fill in the plumbing industry is supply and demand issues. This isn’t an article about that, though. Instead, let's focus on what we can control — your help wanted ads.

Long gone are the days when you could stick a sign in the window and find outstanding talent. Job listings require an entire strategy that isn’t unlike marketing to your customers. It’s important that your listing stands out against your competition and finds the right audience.

Here are five ideas to employ for your help wanted ads.

Every ad is a help wanted ad

Everywhere you are currently running display advertisements, include now hiring messaging. I don’t mean you should stick them in your Google pay-per-click, but magazines, direct mail, the side of your trucks, roadside banners, and billboards are all fair game.

These forms of advertising are more about gaining brand and name recognition than a call-to-action. There is no reason that the key message, right next to your phone number and logo, can’t be “Now hiring.”

While such an ad on a billboard might seem like overkill, it really isn’t. Again, your contact information and business name are prominent. Why not show customers — and potential job candidates — that you are also a thriving business poised for growth? There’s no downside. Who hasn’t “looked for a sign" while sitting, annoyed, in traffic? It's not only the other plumbers in town who will see it. Their friends and family will see it too and offer it up as friendly advice next time your future employee is grumbling about their current position.

Extend your boundaries

People move. I know, that’s not exactly news, but it is easy to forget the candidate pool extends beyond town borders. Create a separate help wanted ad to run outside of your immediate area and include information in the ad about why your area is so great to live in. Sweeten the pot with relocation benefits.

Some job boards have location options available in their listing settings. You may need to pay more to promote your job listing outside of your area, but don’t be afraid to make this investment if talent has dried up in your immediate area. You never know who is going to be ready to make a life move.

If you don’t know how to do this confidently, find a flat-fee hiring agency that can help you optimize your ads for national search. 

Offer creative incentives

Sign-on bonuses have gained popularity as competition gets hot. I have a love-hate relationship with this concept, but sometimes you need to sweeten the pot to get someone to give you a chance. This might be especially helpful if your shop has a poor reputation. If you’ve genuinely corrected those issues and need plumbers to give you a shot, a sign-on bonus can provide the incentive they need.

While cash is king, some people aren’t comfortable with the idea. Get creative. This is the time to show the candidate pool your culture, how well you understand your workers, and maybe even — gasp — that you have a sense of humor. Here are a few (progressively off the wall) ideas:

  • Tickets to a local theme park or sports team
  • A weekend getaway
  • An exceptional tool package (theirs to keep!)
  • Free uniform service for their first year
  • Access to a company boat (bonus: you get to buy a company boat)
  • A hot-air balloon ride around the city

Think about the message that you are sending with your incentive. Do you put a focus on work/life balance in your organization? Maybe you focus on craftsmanship or personal appearance. If you send mixed messages, such as NFL tickets that employees never have time to use because they are working every weekend, the idea will backfire. 

Also, this is the time to brag about any other exceptional perks or benefits you offer that aren’t specific to a hiring incentive. Whatever you’ve got, flaunt it. Whether that is free snacks in the break room, a great vacation package, tuition help for their kids, or a stellar uniform program, remember that the goal of the ad is to get someone excited at the idea of working for you. Show them you understand what improves their quality of life.

Hire a copywriter

Think of your help wanted ads as a marketing effort and plumbers as a highly sought-after customer demographic. Like with any other ads, the information needs to be interesting, speak to the needs of your customers (or, in this case, prospective employees), and be easy to find.

That last part is the trickiest. Job sites are search engines, just like Google. The posting needs to be well-written, yes, but it also needs to be optimized for search. Getting your posting found is an art unto itself in a crowded marketplace. A copywriter can help make sure that the content is interesting and written for optimum visibility. 

Finally, a job board is not the time to get super creative on common industry terms or job titles. Use standard industry language to describe the job and its requirements.

Be flexible

Think of your job listing like the plumbing code — it represents the minimum acceptable requirements. When the job market is thick with applicants, you can write the position for your ideal or perfect candidate. Right now though, you want to widen the net.

Don’t write your job descriptions so that they intimidate a candidate. For instance, a plumber doesn’t need to have worked with the exact brand of water heaters you rep or have experience in your field management software. Those things are trainable. 

Pick your battles and don’t be too hasty in judging a book by its cover. I’d rather have a candidate who is hardworking and loyal over one who has perfect technical credentials (and often comes with a chip on their shoulder.) Perfect is not the goal these days. Moldable and willing is a better description.

That’s not to say that you need to lower your standards. It’s more about understanding what is important. We’ve all heard it a million times lately, but we are living in unprecedented times. The world is wild and crazy and the plumbing industry hasn’t dodged that bullet. It’s not business as usual, so don’t treat your job listings that way. 

About the Author

Anja Smith has worked in the plumbing industry since 2012 in Greenville, South Carolina. You can find her on LinkedIn at


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