Job Advert vs Job Description – Cutting through the confusion

Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2022

Job Advert vs Job Description – What's the difference?

When you are recruiting for the first time there’s always a great deal of confusion around the different formats and functions of job adverts and job descriptions – and many assume that they are one and the same thing.

However, they are actually both very different, and both are vital tools to have in your recruitment kit bag.

When it comes to promoting jobs and handling recruitment, there is always a need for speed, so even for seasoned recruiters there is sometimes the temptation to copy and paste to try and quickly serve both functions, but it really is important to distinguish between the two to get the best recrutiment results!

Getting your head around Job Adverts and Job Descriptions

A great analogy when distinguishing between job adverts and job descriptions and beginning to put together these documents for your recruitment project is to think of a box of cereal. The detail on the front is your job advert and the information on the rear is your job description.

Job Adverts

On the front of the cereal box there will be a focus on brand value and image “Britain’s best loved…”, “the UK’s brand leader” and such like. For your job advert you need to ensure that you are selling your company – highlighting brand values and USPs: why would the prospective employee want to work for your organisation? How do you stand out above your competitors?

On the front of the cereal box there is always a demonstration of a tempting end goal, usually labelled as the ‘serving suggestion’ – using information about your brand and its ethos in your job advert is a great way of conveying the end goal for potential employees, ie: one where they will be doing a worthwhile and rewarding job at a great company.

The wording on the front of the cereal box will be punchy and enticing to grab the attention of potential purchasers, and in the same way, your job advert should also use concise language, written in the first person. Job adverts are not the place for lengthy paragraphs – include all the important job highlights but in short sentences with a layout that is easy on the eye. You are aiming to catch attention over and above what other firms may be advertising.

You will always find weight, measure and price information facing you on the shelf in the supermarket, allowing you to make an informed and decision about what you purchase, and the same is true of jobs adverts – make sure the job highlights you include in your advert detail salary, location and any job critical qualifications.

In previous blogs we have talked at length about the importance of using keywords when you are recruiting, as both online job boards and social media pages and groups have search functions. Keyword searches are usually the starting point for potential employees – searching using keywords helps to cut through the noise and to find opportunities that are the most suitable for them.

Make sure that your job advert includes the keywords that new recruits will be using in their searches, to ensure they see your position – if you need some steer on this take a look at similar roles being advertised at present or get in touch with us for some guidance.

Breakfast brands spend a significant amount of time and effort focusing on how their particular cereal sits on the shelf in comparison to rival options. By thinking about the points above and considering how you can entice advert viewers to put in an application will really help your position stand out against the competition.

Job Descriptions

Thinking about the difference between the front and the rear of the cereal box is a good starting point in our comparison of job adverts and job descriptions here. The rear is where you find detailed information, enabling the consumer to drill down to further facts about topics highlighted on the front of the box, allowing them to double check that the product is right for them and meets their needs and preferences. Job descriptions are in the same way, and by definition, far wordier documents, detailing information about the job itself – including requirements around qualification and certification, preference for experience in certain areas or of a certain duration etc.

They are also the place to locate comprehensive information about the roles and responsibilities the new employee will have, as well as the reporting structure. You will find that for this reason, the job description word count available to you on job boards will be significantly higher than the characters allowed for a job advert.

Thinking back to the cereal box though, when it comes to writing your job description, there are some important factors to consider:

  • The rear of the box contains a great deal of information, but it is laid out in clear and manageable sections
  • Make sure that your job description is divided into distinct segments to reduce confusion and any information overload – remember that by the end of the document, the candidate should be clear on the what, why, where, with and how.

In the same way as the job advert, the best job descriptions use engaging language. Job descriptions are usually written in the third person, so balance this and prevent your document being dry by using plenty of adjectives and verbs.

Job descriptions, particularly at larger firms, can often follow a template that is used each time there is a vacancy, but before posting, stand back and ensure that this particular job description conveys the essence of the job role and the company culture so that potential employees can really get a feel for what it is like to work for you.

Continuing to think about how job descriptions are created, these are often written from an internal company point of view so they can be used for both in-house and external candidates, so it is vital that you avoid the use of company jargon, anacronyms or
talk about work, projects or teams that only a candidate already at your firm will understand.

In summary, to get the best hiring results, look at every job advert and job description with fresh eyes, using the combination of the two to offer the potential employee a full circle of important information which then encourages a confident application.

Remember that a job description should describe what the candidate will do for you; a job advert should focus on what you can do for them.

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