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Recruitment ad misses mark

A VU communications expert says a highly ridiculed public-service recruitment ad should be criticised more for missing opportunities to find suitable university graduates than for its wooden acting.

The $4,000 video, produced to attract new university graduates to the Department of Finance, was pulled last week from the department’s YouTube channel after it was widely mocked on social media platforms and given an unflattering review in a senate committee hearing.

Sally Webster, a VU lecturer in marketing and communications, and a former federal government senior public affairs manager, says the ad missed the mark in encouraging graduates to apply because it was neither compelling nor realistic.

“Graduates want to know what opportunities they will have, and how will they be supported in their career path and planning,” she says.

“While the ad touches on this, it doesn’t have any personal stories for a target audience to connect to, nor does it realistically explain the benefits of a public service career. It misses the opportunity to entice the best and the brightest.”

Sally says it is unsurprising the Finance Department’s approach to recruitment advertising caused such negative public reaction. The ad uses real-life department staff using clichéd language to depict their typical day on the job, giving unrealistic portrayals of their roles.

She points out that government advertising must connect with its target audience for it to be viewed by the public as a good use of taxpayers’ money, an opinion she raised several years ago with a Parliamentary inquiry into government advertising.

She said Defence Force Recruiting provided an example of a good graduate recruitment campaign when it embedded computer code within a job application for coding specialists.

“They got great committed applicants who proved they knew what to do and had the skillset they were after,” she said.

Sally said Together Creative, the agency that created the Department of Finance ads, could have better engaged with applicants by asking them to complete activities that highlighted key skills the role required, or asking applicants to upload short descriptions of themselves to the Department’s Facebook page as part of a recruitment application.  

Sally Webster is available for comment on 0419 503 331 or sally.webster@vu.edu.au

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