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The Anatomy of an Ad: Now Hiring
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The Anatomy of an Ad: Now Hiring

It’s safe to say that at some point in a business’s life it will have to publish at least one ad.  And usually the ad most businesses have to have out there is for human resources.  The Help Wanted or Now Hiring ad is as old as business because simply put businesses need people to run.  But how do you get not just people but the right people to apply?  Also, how do you utilize the social space correctly and to their specific parameters to reach possible candidates online?

We’ve taken the same basic “Now Hiring” ad and broken it down into both print and facebook specs.  We’ve lined out some design best practices that help you convey your message to the applicants and also ways that you can use this space in multiple ways: recruitment plus brand awareness.  If we can help you with your ad needs let us know!


The Square Print Layout

If you are looking to just have a simple box ad that is a basic square we’ve lined out a fairly standard ad that helps you get all of the information delivered while also maintaining a healthy balance.


One thing to notice is that the ad is basically split into sections.  Graphic designers usually break out the ad into sections and give a specific ratio to each area.  The header and background image takes up about 50% of the ad space.  The reason for this is to grab the attention of the reader.  As well notice where the main message of the ad begins: in the northwest quadrant, towards the center just a bit offset.  The human eye naturally goes to this location when viewing an ad or page.

This area should usually have the most important message or image you wish to convey.  In our ad and for our purposes today that message is that the brand we’re designing for is hiring.

Image Choice

We chose a clean image that conveys communication, openness and wanting to meet people.  The handshake is an old symbol related to business especially, and usually implicates strength, solidarity, and fair business dealings.  The background as well is faded into the remainder of our ad which is white.  In print, if you opt to not have a full-color print for the ad and stick to a grayscale it would also translate very well to grayscale or two-tone printing without losing too much of its impact, like this:

Also having an image that has a white or off-white background helps with print.  Most newspapers use a four color process which can mean that if you do white on a dark color it can turn out to be offset just a bit leaving the ad copy looking blurry.  If you go for a standard black on white print it is much cleaner and also clearer to read.  If you are publishing in a glossy you should be okay with a darker background and lighter font coloring.

The Bottom Half

I typically shy away from too much text aside from the information that absolutely must be conveyed.  I also encourage you to weight your information with the most crucial information being stated first then winding down to the information that doesn’t bear as much weight.  Notice also the use of fonts in this ad.  By rule, you should use no more than 3 fonts in an ad and I usually break them out to one serif, one sans serif and one script if needed.  Your goal is to convey and communicate, not to overwhelm.  The viewer of the ad should be able to take in the pertinent information easily and not turn away from the ad because it’s overwhelming with a number of images, font use and a nonclear approach to the weight of information.


Assign Font Styles To Your Ad

When you begin to design and come up with what fonts you are going to use assign the weight or size of the ad to the importance of the message you are conveying.  Our header has obviously the largest most important message to the reader: Now Hiring.  This area has a heftier number on its font sizing than the bottom half.

The bottom half is also similarly broken out by size, bolding or italics, even the line spacing is changed as necessary to give importance to various pieces of information.  We also recommend breaking out the information area of the overall ad between paragraph and bullet points if possible.  Adopting a cleaner, less is more strategy will help your viewer access necessary information on their end to make sure your position is a good fit for their skill set.


More Bang For Your Buck

Realize that even if someone isn’t a good fit for the position you are hiring for doesn’t mean they aren’t a possible customer or associate in the future.  This space should be utilized to give ample opportunities for the reader to learn more about your company.  Also, it allows the applicant to know what social media platforms you engage in, what email address they should use to follow up and also what is special about your brand.  In the area right below your logo, you can put information like how many years you’ve been in business, what region you serve or distributors you have a working relationship with.  Including your website and social platforms can also help plant seeds to those who see the ad of the various ways they can connect with your company.

All of these pieces of information can help your business attract not only great applicants who want to work with your brand (not just a job) but also possible customers learn a little more about you.  You’re paying for space either way so make good use of it!


Here’s the same ad as a column or rectangular piece that could easily be used for Help Wanted posters or fliers:


The Facebook Style of the Same Ad

For the Facebook ad we’ve designed to work you must have a link to a website for further information.  This could be your website or a job listing site, but still it should link through for more information.  As well per Facebook here on some specs to keep in mind:

As well per Facebook here on some specs to keep in mind:

  • File type: jpg or png
  • Image ratio: 9:16 to 16:9
  • Images that consist of more than 20% text may experience reduced delivery. (More on this below)
  • Text: 125 characters

With Link

  • Images masked to 1.91:1
  • Headline: 25 characters
  • Link Description: 30 characters

Technical Requirements

  • Optimal Image Size: 1280 x 628 pixels
  • Minimum Image Width in Pixels: 400
  • Minimum Image Height in Pixels: 150
  • Aspect Ratio Tolerance : 3%

*Just as an FYI the Single Image style is just one of several styles that Facebook offers to it’s pages for running ads.  We’ve chosen it for our purposes today as most pages typically will use this style predominantly over the other styles like Canvas or Carousel.

Text In Your Ad

Something to always pay attention to is the amount of text you have in your ad.  Facebook guidelines ask that text takes up no more than 20% of any image you have uploaded.  If you go over this amount your ad may not deliver as much or at all.  So keep it bare and use a dynamic image to catch the eye.  We do encourage at least the presence of your logo on the image, usually in a corner.  The text rule should also be applied when you are simply uploading any images with links or posts on Facebook.  The more you make the image free of text the easier it is to boost the post with a minimal headache.

Character Limits & Buttons

On each area of the Facebook ad, there are character limits.  The various portions of our ad above are lined out to these character limitations, so make good use of these areas to get the correct viewer to click.  The button as well can be modified from a range of options: Learn More to Apply Now.  Usually when you create the ad Facebook will supply a range of button messages to use in your ad that fit with the ad’s intent.

Determining Your Audience

Using the Facebook Ad Manager you will select from target audience demographics that can range from very broad items like geographic location, down to specific demos like pages they’ve liked, education level completed, buying preferences etc.  You can run several ads with multiple images and messages to a variety of target demographics for your ad, dependent on the candidates you are seeking and set them up under an ad set.

Assigning a Budget and Time Range

As well within Ad Manager you can determine the overall cost you are prepared to spend, the length of time the ad will run and even what time of day you would like it to appear on the News Feed.  Just like the ad in the paper isn’t free, ads or sponsored posts on Facebook aren’t either, with the more you spend equating to the more reach you will receive.  If your audience is clearly defined and you have a budget assigned to the ad befitting the results you hope to see you should receive clicks and conversions.


So there you go.  Just a bit of an inside look at some best practices on both a traditional print ad and a Facebook-style sponsored post.  We hope you found this helpful and please let us know if you have any questions in the comments!

Amy Hughes About the author
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