Job Ad vs Job Description

Did you know that a Job Advertisement and a Job Description are NOT the same thing? Although they’re similar, there are some very important differences between the two. Which is not surprising as they perform very different functions!

Here we explain the differences between these two important HR documents.

Job Advertisements

First and foremost, the function of a job advertisement is to attract the best candidates. This is likely to be the very first touch-point with your company so it’s important to make a great impression. This is especially true for passive candidates – those candidates who are already employed but might be looking for a better opportunity (often the best candidates!)

Of course, as well as attracting candidates, the job ad needs to inform potential candidates about the position, including the skills and other attributes needed for the role. It should also include information about the company and what the working environment is like.

Job Advertisements should use short, exciting language to present the position in the best light possible. Remember, this is an advertisement! Put on your “marketing hat” and try to do everything possible to encourage the best candidates to apply. Your job advertisement should NOT be an exhaustive list of job duties and functions for the role – that belongs in your Job Description.

In a Job Advertisement, your Job Title might be slightly different to the official job title. You might add more descriptors. For example;

  • Instead of “Office Manager” it could be “Full-time Office Manager, Houston”
  • Or instead of “Customer Service Representative”, it could be “Dynamic and Friendly Customer Service Representative”

Also remember that a Job Advertisement should include keywords that potential candidates will be searching for on public job boards. Think like a candidate and include the key programs they might know, or ways they might be describing a job they’re looking for. For example “Adobe”, “Ruby”, “warehouse”, “stocker”, “driver”, “telephone” etc.

When writing your Job Advertisements here’s what you should include;

  • Job Title
  • Company Information
  • Job Summary / Position Overview
  • Job Responsibilities and Duties
  • Job Requirements / Selection Criteria
  • Job Location
  • Benefits and Compensation Information
  • Reporting Information

Job Ad Example

Putting it altogether, here’s an example of what a job advertisement might look like…

Job Ad Example

Job Descriptions

On the other hand, a Job Description (or Position Description) is a summary of everything that a role requires in terms of essential responsibilities, activities, duties, qualifications and skills that may be needed to successfully complete the job.

The Job Description is a much more detailed document that is a reference for the manager and employee and can often be used in performance reviews. When recruiting, you should consider sharing the Job Description with candidates – perhaps before their first interview – so that they have complete transparency and can gain a very clear understanding of the role.

When writing your Job / Position Descriptions, here’s what you should include;

  • Job Title
  • Job Summary or Overview of the Role
  • Job Location
  • Responsibilities & Qualifications
  • Daily Duties
  • Skills Needed to Perform the Job
  • Knowledge Needed for the Role
  • Soft Skills
  • Hard Skills
  • Certifications, Diplomas, Degrees necessary for this Job
  • Organizational Structure: “Reports To”
  • Supervisory Responsibility (will this job have any direct reports?)
  • Salary Range or Compensation Structure
  • Company Benefits: Healthcare, Paid Time Off / Holiday, Other Perks of the Job
  • Company Bio

You might also consider adding in this information for an all-encompassing job description:

  • Job Classification (e.g. Full-Time, Part-Time)
  • Date of Job Description – keep track of the last time you’ve updated your Job Descriptions!
  • Work Environment – describe the environment where this Job will be working
  • Physical Demands / Lifting Requirements
  • Expected Hours of Work
  • Travel Required
  • Disclaimer – Consider adding a statement that indicates that this Job Description is not meant to cover all activities and responsibilities and that the Job Description is subject to change
  • Signature Lines for Employee / Supervisor to Sign

Free Download: Job Description Checklist

To make it easy to ensure that each of your job descriptions include all the vital elements, we’ve prepared here a checklist. Print out the PDF or download the Word version to edit this to suit the needs of your organization.

Job Description Checklist

Job Description Checklist

A one-page checklist to create position descriptions that are contain all the necessary information.

Download PDF | Word Document

Hopefully that clarifies the differences between a Job Ad and a Job Description. Although it’s tempting to use one document for efficiency, this really means that you probably don’t have a very good job ad OR job description! Using these guidelines, it shouldn’t take much time to create documents that are specific to their purpose. You should find this will help you attract better quality candidates as well.

Job Ads Vs Job Descriptions – What’s the difference, anyway?

Category: Recruiting