Hiring & Recruiting

Job Postings Are Not Job Descriptions

Somewhere along the line, the terms “job description” and “job posting” became interchangeable, and the result has been confusion on the part of talent acquisition professionals, as well as ineffective recruitment advertising.

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And it’s not merely semantics. There are—or should be—major differences between job descriptions and job ads.

Traditional Job Descriptions

A job description is an internal document used by human resources and department heads for a number of purposes.

The format of a job description allows for listing job requirements, tasks, and expectations in an organized way, and in detail. The document becomes a blueprint for the job and serves as a manager’s guide for onboarding, reviewing job performance, developing training plans, and strategic planning.

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The document also provides insight into workflow and tasks, and, when looked at with other department job descriptions, identifies areas requiring improvement.

And yes, job descriptions can and should be referenced when creating job postings.

Job Postings aka Job Ads

A job posting, on the other hand, is a job ad; it is advertising.

The purpose of advertising is to promote or sell a product, service or idea. In this case, the idea is “work with us.”

With this in mind, you want to 1) attract job seekers’ attention; and 2) sell the company and the job.

Not all employers do this well, and some don’t do it all.

Too Much Information, Not Enough Information

Recruitment advertising is less likely to succeed if an employer takes a job description, an HR and management internal document, and posts it online. It may save time, but it’s a poor substitute for a professional job ad.

You can immediately recognize these “job description” postings. First of all, they are way too long. They include every possible duty associated with the position, often as bullet items, and a job seeker has to keep scrolling down to read the posting.

If this weren’t off-putting enough, these postings totally ignore the WIIFM (what’s in it for me). What will a job seeker gain by performing this seemingly endless list of tasks? He or she won’t have a clue after reading the ad.

Meanwhile, these same postings share nothing about the hiring organization or its culture. What’s it like to work for XYZ company? Who knows. Is there a benefits package? This too remains a mystery.

Despite the length of these job ads, important information is typically missing. At the same time, the information that has been shared does nothing to excite a job seeker or encourage him or her to apply.

Professional Approach Pays Off

Instead of hastily posting job descriptions, take the time to carefully your craft job ads or hire professionals who specialize in recruitment advertising. The effort will result in better job ads that will help you attract the candidates you seek.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.