Workforce Visibility

Your Job Description, Job Ad... Who Cares?

Job Description, Job Ad or Job Posting…in the world of HR and recruitment, all three names are thrown around interchangeably, but do you really know the difference between each or when to utilize each one? Too often job descriptions, or whatever you call it, are overlooked, underappreciated and treated like utilitarian tools that just need to be pushed out as quickly as possible so the job can get posted. I believe this is due to the fact that recruitment teams view the tools as synonyms, when in fact they are not.

Let’s take a look at what we are really writing, when we craft a Job Description or Job Ad. Let’s define the names of the different tools we use when posting a job. When we take control of understanding the names and role and importance of each, we have the ability to positively shape the recruitment experience for both the hiring manager and the candidate.


Job Tool Definition

Job Description– HR, finance and leadership love a good job description because it creates a nice little package around what the person will do, the experience they need and the team they will perform this role for. The description allows finance to create a salary range that helps them manage and forecast costs. The job description also helps leadership to know what they are investing in by setting clear expectations on what an employee does on the team.

Job Descriptions are an extremely important tool, I vote we keep them.

Job Ad– like the tin says[1], a Job Ad, is an advertisement to attract candidates to come work for us. It is a story telling tool that is designed to be posted to job boards, social media, to be emailed to candidate lists, sent to friends, and given to your neighbors. It is a realization that we need to put effort into attracting candidates and not just assume they will want to apply because we have a job opening.

Job Ads matter because for many candidates it is their first exposure to a potential position and potential employer. The job ad has the ability to set the tone for the entire candidate and recruiting experience. 

Job Ads are also extremely important tools, again I vote we keep them.

Job Postings– as far as I can tell from my time in the recruiting industry, and trust me I have been in this industry for a while, this is a blending of a Job Description and Job Ad. I have used this term interchangeably when I found people may be confused by the term Job Ad, since the term Job Ad is not as prevalent in some regions.

However, we need to be precise and hold ourselves accountable for using the right tools if we are going to attract the people we need.

Job Posting is not a precise term, I say we ditch it and forget it.


Job Description vs. Job Ad

I believe having clear language that defines the role of a Job Description and Job Ad is important. We need to recognize that each name represents a different tool, that is to be used at different points in the recruiting conversation. Some people might argue I am creating a mountain out of a mole hill. But I argue we have created a mole hill out of a small mountain by not addressing the difference.

Imagine if a contractor working on your kitchen remodel did not worry about the difference between a finishing hammer and a sledge hammer. The end result would not live up to your expectations.

In today’s job market, heck in any job market, we need to realize that Job Ads play an essential role in attracting the right candidates. Many times, the Job Ad sets the tone for the rest of the recruiting conversation as it is the first interaction a candidate will have with your employer brand, as well as your organization’s overall brand.

If you are a recruiter, you will know that when a candidate has read a bad Job Ad you have to do a lot of work to undo the damage to get them interested. On the other hand, if the candidate has read a good one, the conversation takes on a much different tone.

I believe many of the bad Job Ads we see in the market today are there because we as an industry have used Job Description and Job Ad as synonyms. Let me repeat myself again, they are not. Job Descriptions clarify the roles and responsibility an employee has, Job Ads attract talent to consider becoming an employee.

Again, you may say I am making way too big of a deal about this but imagine if Apple tried to sell their iPhones using the user guide instead of advertisements? You would be reading this on your Blackberry. The Job Description is the user guide let's not use it as an advertisement.

While each tool has value, as a story teller I am partial to Job Ads. Call me simple but I love to get lost in a good tale and I would argue that most candidates agree. Yes, Job Ads can be good reads. They can engage, they can get the candidate excited, and dare I say, they can entertain. 

So how do we create a Job Ad that entertains? How do we begin writing Job Ads that get candidates excited about the opportunity and motivated to take the next step?

For three simple steps on how to write a Job Ad that will blow every candidates' socks off you will have to wait until my next blog post... “The important role of good story telling in writing Job Ads”.

At Ignite Digital Studios, we care about these differences because we use our story telling experience to help clients around the world attract great people. We use solid storytelling and digital tools to create compelling Job Ads and Job Ad Tools Kits to help clients and recruiting teams connect with the people they need.

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    Written by Jeff Nelson
    Jeff Nelson is Chief Story Teller at Allegis Global Solutions’ Ignite Digital Studios. He is a serial creator, be it with words, pixels, graphite, or wood he loves creating art that tells a story; stories that transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. Jeff dedicates himself to finding unique ways to tell stories through design, video and words. His career has spanned from account management, to strategic direct marketing and now creative development. He is a firm believer in the power of stories, good design and analytics. He likes to help people and companies find their purpose and achieve them. Jeff began his marketing career in California in account management working with amazing non-profit clients like World Vision helping them connect donors with children. He went on to work with some global brands such as Toshiba before taking his marketing experience and moving into creative development. When he opened Variable Force, a video production company, where he worked with start-ups to global brands like Merck. In 2012 Jeff joined Allegis Global Solutions to kick start our employer branding offering.