Help Wanted: Have a Job to Fill? Attract More, Better Applicants with Radio Advertising

Need to hire a new employee? Hire your local radio station first.

Losing a key employee sucks.

And it’s probably inevitable. Sooner or later, most often when you least expect it, your MVP is going to drop the bomb: she’s moving on.

You’ll need to fill those shoes, and fast. And here’s the best way to attract your next superstar: hire your local radio station.

Many years ago, when the newspaper was still King of Local Advertising Media, your automatic response might have been to place a Help Wanted ad in the classifieds and wait for a response. And wait. And wait some more, becoming increasingly discouraged by the shortage of suitable applicants.

The problem? Help Wanted classified section, by definition, is for the unemployed, and all too often the chronically unemployed, along with those who are unhappy with their present situation.

Whereas the superstar you need isn’t unemployed, isn’t looking for work, ergo isn’t scanning the Help Wanted ads.

She may be working for a competitor. Or she may be working in a different field, in a comparable position. But even though she’s not looking for a new job, she might consider a better opportunity was she to hear about it.

How’s that going to happen? Well, if one of the people in her circle of friends and associates knows about the opening, it could come up in conversation.

Or, you could advertise the position on your local radio station and create that conversation.

Putting your recruitment advertising on the radio will reach more prospects and influencers, faster and more effectively, than anything else you can do.

The result? You’ll find and hire your superstar sooner, minimizing the strain on your business, not to mention your mental and emotional well-being.

Consider radio’s advantages over other media:

Reach. Radio’s vast weekly reach (91% of adults) is superior to that of any other medium. Can you say “opt-in?” Radio is the ultimate opt-in advertising medium!

Frequency. Radio gives you multiple opportunities throughout the day to reach listeners with your message.

Intimacy. Radio is highly personal. It’s a conversation between the host and listener. They share a connection.

Intrusiveness. Tony Schwartz said that radio’s biggest advantage is that people are born without earlids. People hear your ad, without making any effort to do so.

Polite company. Radio keeps you company without being a distraction. You can listen while you’re driving, jogging, gardening, or any number of other things. That’s a unique advantage pure audio has over visual media.

Imagination.  On radio, pictures are more personal; the experience, more real. Because pure audio engages the imagination better than any visual medium.  On radio, anything’s possible.

Time Spent Listening. People spend more of their day with radio than any other single medium, including broadcast TV, satellite TV, local cable, and the Internet.*

Car radio. It’s almost a separate medium; as Chris Lytle famously observed, “A car is a radio on four wheels.” Prospects traveling to and from their jobs in their vehicles are a captive audience. Can you think of a better time and place to tell them about your opportunity? 

Spotlight.  On radio, your ad is like a spotlight shining on you and you alone, for a full 30 or 60 seconds. (Whereas in newspaper, you’re surrounded by competing ads. Maybe they’ll spot yours, maybe they won’t.)

Timing.  You can choose when your commercials will air. If you can swing it, I recommend a higher frequency schedule, at least 10-15 spots a day, every day for 10 days to 2 weeks. The cost of this schedule is far less than the cost of a prolonged vacancy to your business. But if you can’t afford to do this, “own” something. At the very least, buy a couple spots in morning or evening drive, every weekday, and talk to listeners on their way to and from their jobs.

A Launchpad to Your Website.  Your radio advertising opens a conversation that you and your prospective candidate can continue at her convenience online. Use your website to elaborate on the details: compensation, benefits, work environment, opportunity for advancement, your company’s reputation, etc., etc.  One client I worked with was concerned about the time it would take to deal with a flood of applicants. I suggested that we create a “knock-out” online questionnaire, a sort of pre-application that would allow the business owner to prescreen all the candidates. Those who stood out would be brought in for a thorough interview, leading to the selection of the best-of-the-best. (This may sound a bit harsh for those who don’t pass initial muster, but in reality, it’s more respectful of their time as well as the employer’s. And all who take time to apply are thanked for doing so. ) This combination of radio advertising to attract candidates and the website application to pre-screen them has worked very well. I recommend trying this.

Here are a few additional suggestions to help make your recruitment radio advertising more effective:

  1. Use current employees in the commercials, but: Do. Not. Script. This. Seriously. If they sound at all forced, even though they’re being truthful, they’ll come across as contrived. Instead of scripting them, just turn on the recorder and have a conversation with them. Get them talking about their typical workday, its ups and downs, the variety of things they do during the day, the people with whom they interact. Ask them to share what they like best about the company, what attracted them in the first place and what keeps them interested. What would they say to a friend who might be applying for work at the company? Keep it conversational and keep it real, then incorporate the best soundbites into the commercial. This is time-consuming and painstaking. And uniquely effective.
  2. Skew your advertising to run more heavily early in the week. Generally speaking, fewer ads are scheduled on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, compared to the rest of the week. But there are not fewer listeners on those days. So, your early-week ads will reach the same number of people, and there will be less competition for their attention. Also, people are more focused on work-related matters early in the week. Toward the end of the week, they’re focused on how they’re going to unwind on the weekend.
  3. Use a single point of contact for responding. These days, your website is best. Avoid the temptation to include your phone number, street address, and the kitchen sink. Your website carries all that information and a lot more.
  4. Create a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list relating to the job, to address your expectations as well as your prospects’ concerns. It’ll save you both time in the long run.
  5. Use respected community leaders in the commercials, talking about how great the company is, its involvement in civic affairs, its contributions to the betterment of the community, etc. Again, make sure these endorsements sound sincere and genuine. They’ll help raise the stature of the employer in the eyes of the prospective employee.
  6. Think about where your ideal candidate might already be employed and make mention of that in your commercial. Here’s how one of my own clients successfully worked that into the message:
  7. Make the company or the job sound like fun by using humor – but make sure the humor really works, and that it serves the message rather than calling attention to itself. Here’s a great example used by Pizza Hut a few years back:
  8. Treat the vacancy as a problem the radio listener can help you solve.  For this local jeweler, hiring a new key employee would enable him to eat his lunch in peace. Seriously.
  9. Build the spot around the candidate, rather than the company. Good advertising isn’t about the advertiser; it’s about the advertiser’s customer. Describe the prospect using language she would use, talking about the things that are important to her, then bring the company into the picture. A company recruiting assemblers began its message this way: “You like working with your hands. You’re good at putting things together. You take pride in the things you build…”  
  10. Target by message, not demographics.  What I mean by this is, don’t agonize over the format of the station (trying to reach the “right” people); instead, focus on getting the message right. For example, say you’re a beer distributor in Ohio, looking for a delivery driver. Instead of placing a lifeless classified ad (“Wanted: beer delivery driver. Must have CDL. Wage and benefits DOE. Apply at…”), you decide to do something a little more fun:

    Think that message might find its way to the right prospect? The right message will find its way to the right people. Just ask The Wizard.

  11. Use radio to keep your pipeline full.  Attract qualified applicants even when you don’t have an immediate vacancy. Invite interested parties to get on an inside track to employment at your company–a pre-screened waiting list, if you will–so that when an opening occurs, your next hire is already in the breech. Consider airing a “This Week at (Your Company)” feature; use it to salute employees, commemorate milestones, thank customers, or even remind people about community events, etc. If your local radio station airs a community calendar, consider sponsoring it. It’s a great way to stay top-of-mind and make people both inside and outside the company feel good about it.

You might want to print this post and keep it handy. Because sooner or later, you’re going to be blindsided by the sudden departure of a key employee. That’s when you’ll want to enlist the help of a powerful ally, your local radio station, to help you find and hire your next MVP, sooner.

*Share of Media Consumption table courtesy Radio Advertising Bureau

Medium Avg. Minutes Per Day % of Total Media Time
Radio 142.3 21.5%
Internet (No e-Mail) 113.2 17.1%
Broadcast TV 95.3 14.4%
e-Mail 87.0 13.2%
Local Cable 84.7 12.8%
Billboards* 53.1 8.0%
Newspaper 44.6 6.8%
Satellite TV 40.6 6.1%
Total Media 660.7 100.0%
The Media Audit, January 2012 – March 2013 -Radio’s Share of Time Spent with Selected Media -Average Minutes per Day (Adults 18+)- Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding *Billboards based on time spent driving










P.S. Here’s another excellent example of how to use direct-response radio to attract quality employees – in this case, plumbers.


About Rod Schwartz 43 Articles
Rod Schwartz backed into a lifelong career in radio advertising in 1973 in Springfield, Illinois. He became sales manager for the Pullman Radio Group in 1979 and served in that position until 2006. He continued to serve clients in the region as the stations’ senior account executive until his retirement in December 2022, having spent 43 of his 50 years in radio advertising here. In 1991, Rod and his family started Grace Broadcast Sales, creating short-form radio features which were syndicated to radio and TV stations across the U.S. and Canada. An avid photographer, Rod shares some of his favorite images of the Palouse at