What’s The Difference Between a Job Description, Posting and Ad?

I’m not going to lead you on with some story here. We’re not doing heartstrings. Screw it. 

I don’t give even one little care about what you call it.*

A job description.

A job posting.

A job ad. 

*Disclaimer: I know there’s a difference. The detailed definitions of each can be found at the bottom of this page after my opening rant. 

It’s insanely frustrating to see people spend more time arguing with a stranger about an “ad vs. description” on LinkedIn than writing better job posts. We’ve spent more time talking about the difference in definitions between these three terms than why it all even matters.

Instead, 180 comments later, we’ve gotten nowhere, and none of the content is any better for it. 

Stop that shit.

Just make it useful. Make it better than some laundry list. Most job postings look like the company is shopping for a laptop, not a human, and I cannot stand it anymore. People deserve more. They deserve to dream a little. 

Your best-case scenario wish list, isn’t it. 

So as I was creating this content for our new online job post writing course, I thought I’d share the wealth

Defining a job description, posting, and ad

It’s simple, really. 

  • A Job Description is a legal document and list. It is paperwork. Something you sign. Use all the bullets and boring language you want. This belongs in a filing cabinet, not on a job board. 
  • A Job Posting is a 250 – 500-word marketing version of the Job Description list. It helps a candidate to answer the question, “can I do this job?” When they read a job posting, that’s what matters most. The rest of the content is negotiable. They can get the micro details later if you want to interview them.  
  • A Job Ad is how you pique interest. It’s the content you will use to get someone to visit your job posting. It’s the templated “now hiring” one-liner. A recruitment marketing video. Whatever. It’s your prop to get people to read the job posting. 

That’s it. Now, can we focus on writing better job posts in the first place? 

Job Postings

Katrina Kibben View All →

Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.

Katrina has written for Monster.com, HR.com, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.

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