HR copywriting explained

Connect with a skilled and experienced HR copywriter

HR copywriting is all about communicating with current and potential employees. HR copywriters will produce content for websites, blogs, brochures, social platforms (especially LinkedIn), create reports and more. As well as finding the right words, HR copywriters are there to establish and protect your company’s recruitment brand identity. 

Oh, and they also need to ensure that the company compiles with regulations throughout the recruitment process, enabling and encouraging applications from everyone (with the right skills and qualifications, obviously).

You may be an experienced HR copywriter or a manager seeking HR copywriting support. Whatever brought you here, we’ve got you. This guide provides a comprehensive insight into what HR copywriting is, including the essential components, best practices and legal complexities. By the end of this guide, you should understand how copywriters for HR can help you create clear, effective, and legally compliant materials and content that connect with your audience. 

Sound good? Then let’s get started.

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What is HR copywriting?

Let’s start by defining HR copywriting. (This is according to 42group. Opinions will differ!)

HR copywriting covers all written content that’s specifically created for human resources teams and purposes. It includes internal communications to staff and stakeholders, intranets and other resources, and external resources, including websites, job boards, blogs, promotional copy, reports, social media copy and more. 

There’s naturally a strong focus on internal communications, recruitment advertisements, and policy documents. But whether it’s for an internal or external audience, everything is created in line with a strategy. Every piece of content has a clear purpose. All copy is created to boost your brand and help improve how your business works.

That’s the idea, anyway. 

Effective HR copywriting helps organisations communicate clearly with their employees, stakeholders, external candidates and even customers and clients. Copywriting for HR can also promote your transparent and inclusive workplace culture, highlighting why you’re a great choice of employer.

The impact of great HR copywriting can be huge. It enables organisations to engage employees and attract talent, boost the employer brand and ensure an open and accessible recruitment process. 

As well as being original, creative and engaging, all copy must be clear, easy to understand, and respectful – avoiding any language that could be considered as discriminatory, exclusive or insensitive. (This is enshrined in the Equality Act 2010.)

Now we’ve cleared that up, we will explore the key components of effective HR copy and provide practical tips to help you create more effective and impactful HR communications. 

What makes great HR copy?

Copywriting in HR (like any other sector or industry) involves more than simply relaying information; it involves the strategic use of language and tone that’s informed by deep audience understanding.

Again, this is our opinion, but here are some of the things that we think make great HR copy from a skilled HR copywriter…

  • Audience understanding – Tailoring your message to your audience is crucial in HR copywriting. For example, the tone and content of a communication aimed at candidates will be different from that directed at senior management. You’ll need a deep understanding of your audience’s needs and expectations, which will help you craft messages that resonate and motivate them. 
  • Language and tone – The language used in HR copywriting should be clear, concise, precise and professional. You’ll want copy that strikes the right balance between formality – which conveys authority and respect – and approachability (ensuring that content is accessible and engaging). Copywriters should always (where possible) avoid jargon and complex language that might confuse or frustrate readers. We’re big fans of plain and simple English.
  • Structure—HR documents, job descriptions, and other content should be structured to make all information easy to find. Don’t try to be too creative. Instead, use headings, bullet points, and short paragraphs to break up text and highlight key information. The easier it is to read and use your content, the more it will be read and used.
  • Be sensitive – HR copywriters deal with sensitive subjects and need to act with care and consideration. For instance, writing about maternity leave, sickness policies or redundancy must be handled with precision to avoid misinterpretation and potential legal problems down the line. We recommend copywriters ensure all statements are factual, based on current legislation and clearly communicated to prevent this from happening. 
  • Staying creative while remaining compliant – The UK has strict regulations protecting employees’ rights, including laws against discrimination (Equality Act 2010), regulations on data protection (UK GDPR), and employment rights (Employment Rights Act 1996). These provide the context and should be considered when copywriting, but they shouldn’t stop you from getting creative. One of the benefits of working with an expert HR copywriter is their knowledge and skills in supporting you to comply with the law while being competitive.
  • Balancing personality with professionalism – We’re all humans and we don’t like to be bored. Stuffy content and overly formal copywriting can be a drain on the eyes and the soul. It’s tempting to pack your copy full of personality, but it could cause problems if you’re going too far.  (^^^See above^^^)

Get all this right and you’re well on your way to creating HR copy that builds human connections – and that’s what it’s all about.

Copywriting for HR documents 

HR copywriting covers a range of documents that each serve a specific purpose within the organisation. Here are some best practices for crafting specific types of HR copy, including websites, job ads and employee handbooks.

  • Job ads – In the competitive recruitment market of today, it’s obvious that crafting an effective job advertisement is crucial for attracting the right candidates. Start by clearly defining the role and responsibilities in a way that’s human and relatable. Try to use bold and inclusive language to ensure the advert is appealing to a diverse audience. Instead of listing personal specs, highlight what sets your company apart, the unique benefits or career development opportunities you offer. People want ads that cut through the noise, so include some personality to give people an insight into what it’s really like to work with you. Don’t forget a clear call to action…
  • Employee handbooks – An employee handbook is a standard document that communicates workplace policies and expectations. It could be boring, but it doesn’t have to be! You want to introduce your company culture, showcase your strengths and establish expectations. Begin with a welcoming statement that reflects the company’s values and culture. Organise the content into sections with clear headings and use unambiguous and straightforward language to ensure all employees – regardless of their level of understanding – can comprehend the policies. 
  • Internal comms – Essential internal communications content – including emails, newsletters and staff memos – should be fun and functional. Nobody will read it if its boring, but be too out there and nobody will understand it. Emphasise key messages and actionable insights for your staff so they can skim through content quickly. Visual elements like bullet points, tables and infographics can increase engagement and comprehension.
  • Websites & microsites – Your website should be easy to navigate, clear and (again) showcase your authority, originality and culture. You’ll want candidates, customers, clients, staff and stakeholders to understand the value you deliver. Use storytelling techniques to capture and communicate your value to any audience. 
  • Social ads – Don’t use social ads? You’re missing out. LinkedIn, Facebook, X and even TikTok are key channels to engage candidates. Again, create social ads that stay on message and strengthen your brand. (If you’re going to use TikTok, Instagram and other social channels, work with a Gen-Z led agency. At 42group, we’re great with words but work with a social provider with that core strength and proficiency.)

Common HR copywriting pitfalls (and how to avoid them)

HR copywriting (and HR copywriters) often make common mistakes that we can spot. In many cases, we’re called in to fix them. (We get paid for this, so it may seem silly to include these here, but we’ve started now, so there’s no going back…)

  • Overly formal or informal language – Finding the right balance in tone can be tricky. Overly formal language may seem impersonal and unapproachable, while overly informal language may undermine your credibility to candidates and customers. Only you’ll know what works best for your business or brand, but we recommend testing, learning and refining content to find what works and identify (quickly, if possible) what doesn’t.
  • Being boring – HR isn’t known for levity, but that doesn’t mean you can get away with being boring. In fact, the more boring your copy and content the less likely it is to be read – and that can be a problem. We’re not talking about making light of difficult subjects, but writing in a positive and active way demonstrates confidence and candour – which your audience will want to read.
  • Problematic policies – Vague language can lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations of company policies, which can cause serious problems. Specifically, when creating policies, be precise and clear in your wording to ensure that all employees have a consistent understanding of what is expected and what isn’t. 
  • Ignoring DE&I – It’s 2024. Can you really ignore DE&I? Some organisations still do – and it’s a *big* problem. It’s essential to ensure that all HR communications are inclusive and considerate of diverse backgrounds. Avoid language or examples that could be exclusive or insensitive to anyone at any time. There are no ifs and buts here, just do it. 

Copywriting isn’t easy in HR. If you need some extra help organisations like the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) offer a wealth of information on HR practices and laws in the UK. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) provides guidelines and examples for various HR matters, including legal compliance.

You should also engage with other HR experts through social platforms like LinkedIn and through ongoing professional development. Never stop learning and improving!

Helping you write better HR copy

We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide and that the tips here will help you write better HR copy. At 42group, we’ve worked with organisations of all sizes and in a variety of sectors, helping them to communicate clearly with their audience. These tips are based on our knowledge, but they should be applied sensitively according to your situation. 

HR copywriting should be driven by your audience at all times, so start there and end there. If you’re struggling, we’re a click away…

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