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

Kat Kibben View All →

Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

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