This study examines how motivational signals in job advertisements relate to public employers’ recruitment success, testing hypotheses derived from signalling theory and person – environment fit theory. We combine job advertisements collected via web crawling with matched survey data on the recruitment process (1,863 recruiters), capturing Germany’s public sector job market. Using quantitative text analysis, we identify motivational signals in the job advertisements and analyse to what extent they relate to indicators of recruitment success. Results show that prosocial signals positively relate to a higher quality of applications and a more qualified selected candidate. By contrast, extrinsic and intrinsic motivational signals did not exhibit statistically significant effects.