Even experienced managers and supervisors can find themselves confused by the differences between a job description and a job ad. The two are distinct entities… with each playing its own unique role in the recruitment process.
Internal vs. External Distinction
An easy way to understand the primary difference between job ads and descriptions is that a job ad is an external document, whereas a job description is an internal corporate document.
The function of a job ad is to attract candidates, whereas a job description is used to screen candidates for potential hiring. A job description serves as a basis for review of applicant qualifications and interview questions. It should also be used to benchmark employee performance at review time.
Job Description: Basic Elements
Let’s take a quick look at the basic elements of a job description. Begin with a summary statement, which outlines a job’s purpose and goals in three or four sentences. Following that, add the job title, the job's classification as exempt or non-exempt, job location, and supervisory and reporting responsibilities.
Next, identify specific responsibilities the position is tasked with…but no more than ten. Describe tasks in a logical manner; use action verbs such as “develop,” “organize” or “coordinate,” and include the overall purpose or benefit of each task. For example: “Updating marketing database to assure all client information is current.”
Now move on to identify the skills and expertise necessary to perform each task listed in the job description, including any special training or certifications. Also, describe relevant past experience and educational requirements. Outline work conditions, including hours, travel, and any unusual environmental circumstances. Finally, document compensation, including pay range; benefits; bonuses; and other incentives.
Dynamic Document with Multiple Uses
Done correctly, a job description is a dynamic document that will be kept and referred to over time—especially during performance reviews. Job descriptions should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure they are accurate and up to date.
Job description builders, like the one available at HR360.com, can do a lot of the work for you by generating custom job descriptions in minutes.
Job Ad: Make the Title Talk
Now let's look at job ads--the mechanism by which you attract candidates, tell them how to apply, and market your business as a great place to work.
When writing your job ad, draw on the job description to draft a job title that will make your posting stand out, and build critical information into that title. For example, instead of saying “JAVA developer,” say “Senior JAVA Developer for High-Growth Company in New York City.”
Next, sell your company brand… your image, market position, values, and culture. A company's brand also includes its size and location, expertise within a particular industry or service area, and awards and recognition.
The Nitty Gritty
Now move on to describe the job itself and qualities you’re seeking in applicants. Referring again to your job description, include an overview of responsibilities of the position, as well as the job's requirements, such as skills and experience, education, or special certifications. Detail whether the position is full- or part-time, where it is located, and salary information. It is acceptable to use a phrase such as “salary commensurate with experience” instead of quoting actual figures.
Next, provide clear, precise directions on how to apply. Outline specific steps such as emailing a resume or linking to your website’s recruitment portal. Be explicit as to what the candidate should include, such as a resume, portfolio, or a completed application form. An applicant’s ability to follow instructions is your first screening tool; feel free to add a very specific instruction in your directions to test attention to detail.
Keep it Legal
Make sure your ad complies with non-discrimination laws that apply. Finally, proofread your ad carefully before posting it.
Job descriptions and job ads serve different, but related, functions, and both merit your full effort and attention. To learn more about recruitment, hiring, and employee management, and to access our custom job description builder, visit us online at HR360.com.