How to write the perfect job ad!

Are your job ads just not getting the responses that they used to? Are you failing to attract the quality of applicant that you need? There will be a few reasons for this. Let’s take a look at the biggest mistakes…. Advertise in the right place. For many years Indeed and Total, have been the…

Job Add

Are your job ads just not getting the responses that they used to? Are you failing to attract the quality of applicant that you need? There will be a few reasons for this. Let’s take a look at the biggest mistakes….

Advertise in the right place.

For many years Indeed and Total, have been the default online recruitment portals. Times have changed however, and the usual jobs boards just do not work for roles in the physical security industry. Visit either of the above and type “security” in the search bar and then try to wade through the oceans of Cyber Security and Information Security roles before you find anything relevant to the guarding industry. These old style jobs boards just don’t know the difference between a cyber security officer and our sort of security officer, other than maybe the former commands maybe £50k pa more.

Those that do not do their research, will still go to the old mainstream jobs boards, wade through pages of rubbish and sometimes still come away without any potential jobs.

There is a better way.

Now I may consult for Get Licensed, but I have used their fantastic app, GuardPass, as has the Security Company I work with, Bold Security Group, and there is very good reason why it is rapidly becoming the premier source of security industry jobs in the UK.

It has been developed by security industry professionals, for security industry professionals. It features the information a job seeker needs to decide whether to apply for a role or not, without any of the pointless, cliched waffle that infects the old style jobs boards.

It already features the job vacancies from almost all the major UK security companies, in a format that makes tracking down the perfect job an absolute breeze for job seekers, but best of all are the response times for the companies posting those vacancies. GuardPass has done a great deal of research examining the quality of candidates, the speed, and frequency of responses to jobs on their app. I’m not going to quote these figures. I’m going to quote the experience of the HR department at Bold Security Group:

“My day job. Using Indeed, typically an advertisement would start to receive responses between 12 hours and 2 days after posting. When eventually I convinced a rather cynical HR manager to post Bold’s vacancies on GuardPass, she walked in to my office an hour later, to tell me that the first application arrived 8 minutes after the ad was posted, and three responses had already been received in the first hour.”

GuardPass is now the preferred means of job posting for Bold Security Group. #NoBrainer

So you know where you should be posting your job advertisements. You are now going to have to adjust your approach from the one size fits all, old style generic recruitment portals, and think about what your target employee really wants to know.

What should the best job ads contain?

This isn’t rocket science but so many employers try to make their ads seem more appealing by leaving out critical information. Front and centre you need to highlight the following:

Hourly Pay Rate. Make no mistake, this is the key factor for any security officer applying for a role. Put it first. Do not put “up to” or the depressing “competitive salary”. Being “competitive” in an industry that historically pays abysmally, simply says to a potential candidate that your pay is woeful as well, and possibly so embarrassingly poor for the role advertised, that you didn’t have the gall to publicise it. Just be honest and stop wasting everybody’s time.

Job title and key responsibilities. Be clear and open with a job title. “Elite security officer” or “shift supervisor” etc etc will impress no one if the pay doesn’t match or if the supervisor is actually going to be working alone. Be candid and list the main duties the role requires, in bullet points ideally. 

Frequency and Type of Payment. This information is essential. With the Government using legislation to try and force legitimate companies to pay their staff on a fully PAYE basis, be very wary of companies that want to pay cash in hand, or on some self-employed agreement. Even if these companies are legitimate, after you have paid your own tax and National Insurance via HMRC’s self-assessment system, does your pay rate reach the national minimum wage, or is it anything like as attractive as you thought? Don’t try to avoid paying tax if you do take some self-employment route. You will get caught sooner or later and the back tax, charges, and interest the court will make you pay, will ruin your life, and potentially blight it for many years until the debt is paid….

Location. No need for the address, but transport to and from work is a huge factor in the ability of someone to perform the job. If the site is in the wilderness or away from reliable public transport, please state that own transport will be required.

Hours of work and shift pattern. As just mentioned, shift start and finish times are a big factor in deciding if getting to and from work is possible via public transport. Candidates often need to work around important personal commitments like child care or looking after an elderly parent, and it may not be possible to take a role that doesn’t fit around these responsibilities. 

Type of SIA license required. A lot of companies seem to require a Door Supervisor’s license when the role only genuinely need a Security Guarding ticket. Please do not think that the different licenses are “ranked” in some way. They are for different purposes only. Requiring a license category other than that genuinely required for the job, will more than likely mean that you have eliminated your perfect new employee from consideration.

That’s the most important stuff. What else do I include?

List the characteristics of the ideal candidate. What experience would be most useful and what knowledge would be of greatest benefit. Please do not ask for university degrees or unreasonable academic qualifications. You may again be ruling out the best candidate.

Potential new employees want to know a bit about the company that they are going to work for. Try to avoid writing pages about how super your company is. Every company does this and I’m pretty sure that they are not all as super as they claim. So, your company bio needs to be brief and include these points:

  • How long the company has been operating?
  • Where does the company operate?
  • What fields does the company work in?
  • Who owns / runs the company.
  • Any accreditations achieved (ACS, ISO’s, Living Wage Foundation, Disability Confident etc etc.)

How can my company stand out from the rest?

In an industry where pay rates can be almost the same across the board, you need to find ways to make working for you, more attractive than working for your competitors. I know that cost is king but not everything you can do for your staff needs to be a huge hit to the bottom line. Here are some ideas:

Company sick pay. May be expensive, but put in a qualifying period, maybe 18 months, and ensure that nothing is paid for the first two day of sickness, to rule out rewarding the “hangover” days, and your genuine staff will be hugely appreciative.

Paid SIA License renewal. The SIA always believed that employers would pay this for their staff. Alas, the race to the bottom on charge rates prevented this from happening. Look at the cost of this spread over 3 years and it seems much easier to budget for, and means the world to your Officers.

Free Uniform. All PPE must be provided FREE by law anyway. Uniform with your company logo on is simply advertising your company, so don’t try to charge your staff for it. 

Career development. Ensure your ops management identify and mentor quality employees. Upskill, train and promote as appropriate, but NEVER ignore or leave good people unrecognised on the same site indefinitely. They will just go somewhere else where their ability is better recognised and rewarded.

Staff awards. Have monthly and annual awards for your top staff. It is clear recognition of a job well done, and always appreciated.

Staff engagement. One of the best ways to do this is by using a good ideas book on each site. Encourage Officers to identify ways to improve the service, save the client or employer money, or save time and effort. The best ideas get mentioned in the staff newsletter and should be rewarded with a prize payment, based on the success of their idea.

Flexible pay. An excellent way to assist with staff financial wellbeing is to implement a flexible payment system. This allows a staff member to withdraw to their bank up to a percentage of money earned at any time in the pay month. A great way to cover unexpected bills or expenses before payday, without incurring bank charges or having to resort to a “payday loan”.

Goods & services discount scheme. Many companies now operate these for their employees. They provide discounts on all manner of goods and services, at very little cost to the employer.

Health care. Health insurance can be expensive, however there are alternatives that provide assistance when needed. The HSF (Hospital Saturday Fund) can provide schemes that pay out cash, at differing levels depending on cover required, to cover hospital attendance, injury, dental and optician’s fees.

Death in Service Benefit. This is usually a very cheap form of insurance that pays out if an employee dies whilst in your employment. It may be cheap but it can provide, typically, the equivalent of a year’s salary to the listed recipient, helping ease the financial pressures after such a loss.

There are many things that a company can do to show they care about their employees. Every little thing will go some way to engendering loyalty, and may just prevent your people from looking elsewhere for greener pastures. You now understand what you need to do to get your vacancies noticed. Visit: and attract the employees you really want!