A little story about good and bad job advertisements

One of the best job advertisements in the world came from British polar explorer and adventurer Ernest Shackleton, when looking for a team for his next Antarctic expedition:

Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success.

Although personally I have no desire for small wages, bitter cold, danger and darkness, these three lines appeal to me. They create more emotions in me than any image or video could. I'll try to explain why.

Men wanted…

No pups, cowards, philistines or couch potatoes. Who wants to be that? Not me!

Small wages, bitter cold, danger…

So, now bad luck to all you greedy wimps, cowards and philistines!

…return doubtful

Wow! Now it gets serious. This is really just for professionals. That’s exactly my sort of thing!

Honor and recognition in case of success

Finally it gets to the point! Life is about more than just money – it’s about being a hero! To be admired by others, because then they will all finally see that I can do the things they only dream of!

Where do I sign?

Unfortunately – or fortunately – the heroic age of Antarctic Exploration is long gone. Today Shackleton would definitely write his advertisement very differently, maybe like this:



Shackleton AG is in the fast lane and wants to bring another creative, talented and dedicated colleague into our successful team. We are looking for just such a person right now.

Antarctic polar explorer

Your tasks:

As a polar explorer, you must be able to design sophisticated solutions on the ground and as part of a team on the ENDURANCE, a ship optimized for the polar mission, as well as use the latest technologies and tools. You will get to know the different parts of the Antarctic and experience its fascinating interaction between humans, machines and animals. You will take responsibility for our project from initial concept to actualization.

Your profile:

  • Attended a school and can read and write.
  • Work experience as a craftsman desirable.
  • Enjoy interdisciplinary cooperation with other skills.
  • Very good analytical skills and enthusiasm for hostile environments.

We can offer:

  • A highly motivated team, likeable colleagues, flat hierarchies, direct communication and quick decision-making.
  • The benefit of our know-how as an established expedition service provider, to allow you to learn a lot about the Antarctic.
  • The opportunity to try out new ideas and advance them on a dynamically growing ice field.
  • A lively working atmosphere.
  • Attractive igloos conveniently located on the main route to the South Pole.
  • Free choice of sled and kayak technology.
  • Powerful dogs of your choice: Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Yakutian Laika, as well as dogs from non-official breed societies.

Have we piqued your interest?

Then send us your documents, stating your name and address and your earliest possible starting date, if possible by mail. The team at Shackleton AG is looking forward to your application!

So, which advertisement do you like better?

Shackleton's Endurance Expedition took place between 1914 and 1917, and it would have been great to be there. In fact all its participants survived, albeit under the most adverse circumstances. Still, the story of the advertisement in the London Times is probably just a myth. That doesn’t matter, because it perfectly illustrates what distinguishes a good advert from a bad one.

A good job advert stands out from the sea of uniformity and appeals to me directly. Emotions are more important than pure information.

The format plays an important role. Information can be conveyed quickly and easily through text. Emotions are created through pictures or, even better, through videos. It is also important not to distort reality. That’s what most people do and that’s why you need to be honest.

If you have nothing to offer as a company, that’s your bad luck.

Creating a good job advertisement is not easy. Have a look at ours and decide for yourself whether we do a good job.

Take a look at our job advertisements!

About Jens Wagener

Jens Wagener is chairman of the itemis Management Board-