Difference Between a Job Description and Job Posting

I hate hearing recruiters complain about candidate behavior when they don’t even know the difference between a job description and a job posting. They act like people are supposed to just know how hiring works or what they’re supposed to do when they’re missing the basics.

In fairness, I understand why they do it.Most of the time, the candidates blame you – the recruiter who really wants to fill the job. There’s this inherent imbalance in the entire equation that starts with education, or a lack thereof. It’s so rare that people are taught to look for a job, let alone how to negotiate on their own behalf.

It leads to a series of misunderstandings that make it really hard for anyone to get what they need – whether you’re looking to hire or you’re on the other side, looking for a gig.

Don’t Post Job Descriptions. Use Job Postings

One of the foundations for this fundamental misunderstanding is the content recruiters post online to attract candidates in the first place, aka the job posting. But that’s mostly because managers don’t know the difference between a job description and a job posting. They don’t realize they’re actually posting a job description that doesn’t belong on the internet at all.

So what’s the difference? How do you know if you’re making this common mistake in marketing your roles?

What Is The Difference? Defining Job Descriptions, Job Postings, and Job Ads

  • A job description is a legal document. It should outline the basic skills required for the role, daily responsibilities, etc. Think of this as the piece of paper you’ll refer back to if a manager says: “This person is not meeting the expectations of the role.” This document needs to capture those expectations so you have something to prove that this is a performance issue if they were to take you to court. I suggest that teams present this file to candidates after the first phone screen and before the first conversation with the manager, but it never needs to go online.
  • A job posting is what we specialize in here at Three Ears Media. A job posting is a marketing version of the job description that helps candidates understand any deal breaker information and ultimately answer two key questions: Do I want to do this job? Can I do this job?
  • A job ad is the content you use to market the role. It doesn’t need to be some all new document. Instead, if you do a great job on the post, you can repurpose sentences straight from that content to market your role on social media and other digital spaces you think these candidates are in. 

Marketing Your Roles With Job Postings Is Key

Now, I don’t care if you call it something different, but ultimately you need 3 pieces of content for a role and most of all, you need content that makes sense to candidates to get the right person to apply.

If you want to learn how to write a job post that succeeds in effectively marketing your roles, take our course.

Job Postings recruiting Recruitment Marketing Advice

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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