- Posted by Linda Brenner
Using a job description in place of a job advertisement is perhaps one of the biggest gaffes that takes place in recruiting. Although the two are similar, when it comes to recruiting, there is a world of difference between them. Understanding these nuances can improve the speed and quality of hiring. So, the big question is, what’s the difference?
Monster explains the difference by comparing the job ad to a typical product advertisement – it highlights the best features of the product, rather than listing all of its technical facets. Although these are relevant and important to the person who ultimately purchases the product, they can detract from the goal of engaging the buyer in the first place. The ultimate objective of the job posting is to first engage the reader and then to inspire him/her to express interest. The job ad’s main function, therefore, is to provide a compelling glimpse of the job and the company culture; the technical details will come later – and only for those to whom it’s relevant.
What are Job Descriptions?
Job descriptions are internal company documents used to outline the responsibilities of a role, requirements related to knowledge, skills and abilities, standards of performance, and aspects of the job necessary to ensure equitable compensation and legal compliance. Typically, they are factual and immersed in industry-heavy language and intended for internal use – not for candidate consumption.
In reality though, job descriptions are often inaccurate, outdated and under-utilized – which is probably the most compelling reason not to use them for advertising open roles. Why is this the case? First, it’s nearly impossible for organizations to keep all job descriptions updated at all times. In fact, it could be argued that it’s barely worth the effort, given the pace at which companies, leaders, strategies and roles change. Often, job descriptions are years old and only barely related to the current role. In fact, 61% of new hires believe their job has different responsibilities than their original expectations.
Given all that, then . . .
Why Do Companies Use Job Descriptions as Job Postings?
In my experience, there are two reasons for this practice:
- Poor recruiting processes: When recruiters are under the gun and/or overworked, they’ll often do whatever it takes to get reqs up and positions filled. I would do (and admittedly, have done) the same thing. Also, when the process requires hiring managers to create their own job posting as part of the requisition creation, a job description cut-and-paste job is almost always the outcome. Last, when hiring managers won’t make the time to discuss the job with the recruiter, the job description might very well be the best information that a recruiter has on hand.
- The assumption of requirement: In many of our recruiting audit engagements with companies that tend to use job descriptions as job postings, we hear recruiters say that they are required to post the job description. Recruiters have told us that this rule is from “Legal” or “the HR leader” or the “compliance team.” In my experience, when we peel back the onion, it’s never been the case that this perceived requirement is in fact true. More often than not, it’s folklore passed down from recruiters or HR generalists, from generation to generation.
Best Practices for Job Postings
Effective job postings cull the most important responsibilities, competencies and qualifications from the job description and surround this information by a compelling description of the company and the department. Effective job postings are also peppered with SEO keywords to ensure the posting appears during relevant candidate searches. Job requirements are crucial in a job ad, and candidates recognize this need as well; 77.3% of candidates say job ads would be more effective with additional information from the job description.
The most important and differentiating benefits are then featured to distinguish the job from similar roles at other companies. Last, the job posting should features aspects of the company itself that are different and compelling to the target candidates. Most applicant tracking systems make this employment branding aspect of the task easy by allowing the flexible use of header and closer templates for different divisions, departments and role types within a company. Recruiters, then, don’t have to make it up each time.
Beyond all this, though, the best job ads appeal to your targeted candidate. They are written with them in mind. Similar to advertising campaigns for consumer products, the most compelling and memorable ads win.
The Ideal State: Great Job Postings Created from Accurate Job Descriptions
Together, job descriptions and job postings help increase quality of hire by providing engaging and accurate information. In this way, the right candidates opt in and the wrong candidates self-select out.
In the end, after all, the winner is not the company that satisfies nebulous legal requirements – rather, it’s the company that garners the best talent for the role.
Want to improve your company’s job descriptions so you can write more compelling job postings? Check out Skillsify’s unique Job Description Builder app.