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Job Advertising vs Job Description – What’s the Difference?

When we’re working with clients, we will send out two drafts – a job ad and a job description – but what’s the difference between these documents?

The terms “job ad” and “job description” are often used interchangeably, but they are very different documents with very different purposes. 

To explain the difference in terms of fishing, your job ad is the lure or the bait, but your description is the hook. This analogy isn’t perfect, but it roughly demonstrates why you need both. 

Hiring great agricultural staff means attracting great agricultural staff 

Job ads (or what we call ad copy) are your first-line means of attraction. A job ad introduces your role to the prospective applicant, describing your organisation and the key requirements of a role; conveying why someone should want to work with you.

It’s a sales tool. A well-crafted job ad is essential in finding the right person for your role. 

‘Superstar’ isn’t a job

Job ads that depict the role and your business are likely to attract more candidates. 

This starts at the position title. The title you put on your position affects who sees it and is very likely to affect who applies. 

Clear language and avoiding cliches (like ‘ninja’ or ‘superstar’) will help increase your position’s visibility. We also see a lot of titles that are very organisation specific which automatically limits applicants – meaning you could be missing out on some of the best people for your enterprise!

Clear, concise and magnetic

The language you use in the body of your ad is also critical. Some common expressions can raise red flags in applicants, restricting your talent pool. For instance, potential applicants often equate terms like “committed” or “high-performing” with “overworked”. Instead of “this job isn’t boring”, the phrase “no two days are the same” is often interpreted as “new issues arise daily”. 

Our top tip on job advertisements comes from SEEK, who recommends ads be 300 – 750 words with a good balance of paragraphs and bullet points. If you’re recruiting a Farm Manager for a merino sheep enterprise, then an applicant is probably aware of the basics of the role you don’t need to go into the full responsibilities. They’re most interested in your company, culture and what sets you apart from other employers (your EVP).

See 5 ways to improve your job advertisements here.

An effective HR document

A job or position description, however, is an internal HR document. The position description is a full-length and comprehensive document that outlines important aspects of a position within the business. This includes reporting relationships, key task requirements, and expectations relating to behaviour and attitude.

Job Descriptions form a sound basis for recruitment, performance reviews, training and development. They provide clarity for staff and management, which in turn creates greater efficiency (and ultimately, profit).

The nuts and bolts of a position

As a formal HR document, certain areas should be addressed in your position description. Best practice for position descriptions is to include:

  • a summary outlining the prime function of the role
  • details of reporting requirements
  • key functions, responsibilities and accountabilities
  • Key Performance Indicators that clearly show how you’ll determine and measure the employee’s performance
  • essential and desirable skills, experience and qualifications
  • expectations relating to policies and procedures compliance 

Understanding the difference between job ads and descriptions is vital to successful recruitment. Job ads ultimately lure applicants in. They need to be concise and tailored to the prospective employee. Job Descriptions, on the other hand, are formal documents that should inform the position you’re recruiting for.

References: SEEK, Datapeople, MyBusiness

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