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This article was originally published in Issue 62 of InSight on 10 December 2008  
InSight 58 was devoted to my annual review of the quality of job advertising in the Australian Financial Review. I rated this ad [click here to view] by Tom Key of Lloyd Morgan as the only outstanding ad published in that edition in question (on Friday 24 October, 2008). After  
Tom contacted me after InSight 58 was published, to confirm that he had indeed written his own ad. We met the following week as I was keen to learn more about Tom’s approach to ad writing. The 45 minute conversation covered more than the ad writing.  
Tom told me he  is ‘passionate about advertising’ which fits perfectly for a recruiter who worked for Michael Page (UK), recruiting marketers for advertising agencies. He is currently the ‘ad champion’ for Lloyd Morgan, which means that part of his responsibilities as Principal Consultant in the Search division of LM is to drive advertising sales and presence.  
I asked Tom about his job ad writing philosophy and he replied that he always focused on two major things in ad writing;  
– Being straigh  t (ie. using language that is specific and honestly describes the organisation and the job) and  
– Having a compelling message   (about the opportunity for the candidate)  
In Tom’s experience, he has found that the highest calibre candidates can see straight through any “waffle” in ads and don’t bother applying. He rarely spends more than 30 minutes writing an ad, seeks feedback internally at Lloyd Morgan and from the client, and then makes any appropriate amendments.  
Moving onto talking about the advertised role Tom provided me with the ad’s publishing history and its response rate.  
Apart from the AFR, the ad was also was published in The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday 25 October and also online at  
Here are the stats:  

Telephone enquiries
Total applications
Interviewed candidates
Short listed candidates
Source of short listed candidates




I asked Tom to talk me through his approach to partnering with the client (the CEO and GM HR of CPA Australia) to ensure that the assignment management process optimised CPA Australia’s chances of attracting and hiring the best possible candidate for the role. Below I have listed a summary of what Tom’s actions were after securing the role:  

·                Had a 30 minute one-on-one meeting with the CEO to get behind the job brief and truly understand the CEO’s direction and vision for CPA Australia and how the advertised role of GM – Marketing would contribute to ensuring that this vision was accomplished.  

·                Booking 60 minutes to meet, face-to-face, with CPA Australia’s CEO and GM HR’s time to present the resumes of the short listed candidates, to discuss the not-shortlisted, borderline, candidates and to confirm with the CEO that these didn’t-quite-make-it candidates were correctly excluded from the short list.  

·                Set and managed the CEO’s expectations with respect to:  

–                as it was a client branded ad, the CPA’s response to any direct candidate applications (there were 3), or recruitment agencies canvassing the role or submitting candidates (this didn’t happen)  

–                first round client interviews occurring within 5 working days of the short list being presented  

–              ideally allocating time for 4 interviews in one day, allowing 1 hour 15 minutes for each interview, to maximise the chances of fair and accurate candidate comparisons to occur  

–                allocating time for the 2nd round interview(s) to occur within three days of the first round being completed to ensure momentum is maintained  

·                Updated the client on ad response and interview progress every 2 to 3 days  

·                Provided the client with a comprehensive 2 page consultant comments/candidate interview summary for each short listed candidate which included the following important information about each candidate:  

–                Reasons for applying for   the role  

–                Overall key strengths/core competencies  

–                Largest marketing budget dealt with  

–                Advertising agency management capability  

–                International marketing experience  

–                Opinion on the best and worst integrated marketing campaign the candidate had seen recently and what was most impressive/unimpressive about it  

–                Leadership philosophy and capability  

–                Stakeholder management capability  

–                Organisational environment that they thrive/don’t thrive in  

–                Notice period  

–                Salary expectations  

–                Other job opportunities currently being considered  
You will notice that Tom’s summary, above, matches the competencies highlighted in his job advertisement – logical, you would hope. However it is scary how many times I read a candidate summary that does not help the person for whom it is written (the client) match and compare the key competencies and motivations required for the job, with the candidate’s corresponding competencies and motivations.  
Mostly what happens is that the recruiter either, writes nothing (hoping the resume alone does the all ‘selling’ required to gain an interview) or they write 4 or 5 paragraphs of vague, meaningless hyperbole, or straight resume repetition that helps the client, not one iota, with the task of matching the candidate’s competencies and motivations to those of the job.  
In summary, it is clear to me that Tom Key is not just a one-trick pony. In other words he is not just a great ad writer with little recruitment consulting capability to back it up. Tom demonstrates significant depth in core recruitment competencies that show me clearly why he was able to win, in a competitive pitch, the CPA Australia GM – Marketing recruitment assignment, and partner with the client to deliver an outstanding outcome in a short period of time.  
This is an excellent current example of our industry proving to its clients the value of working with a skilled and passionate external recruitment professional.  
Well done, Tom.

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Brad S

What a rare insight into the back end efforts that go into successfully placing senior talent. Unfortunately recruiters can be a bit “cagey” with their processes when really there isn’t that many secrets anymore. Thanks Tom for the run down I really enjoyed the transparency – good luck with future placements.

Brad Stewart
Talent Capital (NZ)

Posted by Scott Burton

Ross, thanks for making the decision to meet with Tom to delve further into this particular campaign. And thank you Tom for being so candid.

I hope you find other leading practitioners open to sharing their successes and indeed failures, in the future Ross. I suspect transcripts and podcasts
of such interviews would be well received also should you be in a position to produce them.

Scott Burton
Abbertons Human Resources (QLD)

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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