Advertising Your Job Vacancies: Looking Beyond Want Ads

Anyone who has ever tried to hire a new employee has their fair share of horror stories. They advertised on a bulletin board at the local community centre and no one applied. They spent $1,200 for an ad in the newspaper and got hundreds of applications, but no one was really qualified. They hired the daughter of someone who was a recommendation from someone else, who was the brother of their hairdresser – the person didn’t work out.

There are a sea of sources available to you to advertise your job openings. First, though, you need to put your mind to where the best places would be to advertise the position. Don’t automatically use the want ads in the newspaper or on-line job boards. These may not be your best options.

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • What does the ideal person whom I want to hire read regularly and in what format (e.g. newspaper, trade journals, on-line)?
  • Where do they spent their time (e.g. at school, at the gym, at a professional association)?
  • Who do I know who may know people whom I’d like to hire?
  • Are there any associations or groups where the people I’m looking for belong?

Thinking about these issues first will help you target your advertising source to the people and places where your ideal candidate can be found.

Below is a list of options which may be suitable for you to find your ideal candidate:

1.  Word of mouth

One of the best ways to find qualified employees is to ask for referrals from friends, family, existing employees, colleagues and business contacts. They are already familiar with your company and will have a better idea of what type of employee would fit in well. And it’s free!

2.  Schools

Many schools, whether they be high schools, colleges, universities or trade schools, offer free or low-fee job posting sources to employers. Many also have work experience programs or practicums for students wanting to enter a particular field of work.  Provided you have the time required to train the student, you will often find someone flexible, highly motivated and eager to learn.

3. Trade associations and specialty organizations

Trade associations and organizations often have free or low-fee job posting services to advertise jobs for their members, usually on-line or in a newsletter. This is a great way to target your advertising to a captive audience. If you’re looking for an accountant, for example, contact the accounting associations (e.g. CMA, CA, CGA) and advertise in their member publications. By targeting the advertising location, you will increase your chances of getting better qualified applicants.

4. Newspaper advertisements

Before placing a newspaper ad, think about whether the person you want to hire would look for a job in the newspaper. Also, think about which newspapers they would read.  Your options are endless, from local community papers to regional papers to national publications. Different publications appeal to different audiences. Prices for an ad range from under $100 to thousands of dollars. These sources can also generate hundreds of applications, often from unqualified candidates, so make sure you can handle a high volume of resumes before you place an ad.

5. Job search websites

Consider job search websites if you think your ideal candidate looks for work on on-line. There are many general websites (e.g. where a job seeker can search for jobs in various industries in different regions. There are also industry specific sites where jobs in specific fields (e.g. information technology, engineering, etc.) can be posted. Some job search sites also have a service where employers can review a resume database to see if any registered users match their qualifications. Depending on the site you choose, the price for posting an on-line job ranges from free to several hundred dollars.

6. Agencies and search firms

For a fee, agencies and search firms can manage specific portions or all of your hiring process. Depending on the amount of time you have, the money and resources you would like to dedicate to a search, the urgency to fill the position and the role that the position plays in your organization, agencies and search firms could be the answer for you. Fees are often on a project basis, a contingency-basis or are based on a percentage of the position’s salary.

Beyond theses sources, there are dozens of other places you can advertise your vacancies. Bottom line is to be strategic and creative when finding the best employee for your company.


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