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How do job descriptions differ from job adverts?

How do job descriptions differ from job adverts?

There can often be confusion between the two terms, but each has it's own place in the hiring process. A good job description emphasises what an employee has to achieve on a day-to-day basis and how success will be measured. A good job advertisement emphasises why a qualified individual should apply for the job.

Think of it as you would a product. You wouldn't design a magazine advert that was just a list of technical specifications. You would pick out the key features and benefits that you believe would make people want to buy it.

The transaction purpose of a job advert isn't to make someone buy, it's to make them apply. That could mean finding out more information, filling out an online application, sending in a CV, or picking up the phone. The key is that the candidate takes action.

Most job adverts will list a job description’s requirements, tasks, skills, etc as well as boilerplate about the company. Good ads pick out the key elements from a job description to inspire the right people to throw their hats into the ring, weaving the employer brand message throughout the necessary information.

Knowing what information is key information
Take a look at your job description and the sizable list of tasks and attributes you have laid out. Now cross out everything except the three or four key duties and a couple of necessary skills that you want your candidate to possess. Now you have something manageable to can work from and can inject a bit of enthusiasm

Candidates aren't going to be attracted by you telling them that they are going to be:

  • evaluating skill set and current sales procedures
  • writing new innovative training programmes
  • providing classroom based training

Instead, try explaining that they will be:

  • increasing the efficiency of our sales teams
  • adding your own innovation to training procedures
  • helping us achieve our ambitious growth plans

The difference here is that the job description describes the activities of the job, the job advert describes the outcome.

Explaining why your job is a good job
Refer to the heart of your employer brand, your goals and your mission statement. Make it easy for the candidate to answer the question "Why do you want to work for us?" when it comes to the job interview stage. For example, if 'pride' is a key message, tell readers why this particular job inspires pride, for example “Our technicians are the face of our business, and their pride in a job well done is key to our success.”

Including testimonials from current employees on why your company is a great company to work for can also make the reader take notice, as long as they are genuine quotes and not ones constructed by your marketing department.

You also want to stress aspects such as job security, employee benefits, social activities and all the other aspects that mark you out from your competitors. Your job description covers what you expect the employee to do for you – the job advert needs to cover everything that you can do for them.

Including a call to action
If you want their CVs, 'Apply Now' is an adequate statement. If you’re really treating applicants like customers, think about them being online, reading your ad, two clicks away from your competitors’ job listings. What can you promise (and deliver) that’s different? An advert for a product might state that delivery is in five working days, so how about promising a five day response time to your applicants? If doesn't have to be a positive response, but applicants like to know that their application will at least be noticed.

You can also send applicants to your company website to find out more. Make sure you have a hiring portal on your site where you can back up the benefits you have stated. If you send them to the corporate home page you won’t control the employment-branding message. You want to capture their interest in working for your company before sending them on to look at the rest of your site.

Take a good look at your current recruitment processes and start using your job adverts to attract candidates like you would customers. You will soon be discovering candidates who will be able to complete the tasks laid out in your job description.