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Job descriptions vs. job postings: What's the difference?

Jul 06, 2020


Job descriptions and job postings are two separate documents. A job description is an internal private guide to be utilized when searching for the ideal fit. Job postings are public advertisements of the job designed to attract a wide range of candidate applications.  

Staffing and HR professionals at all levels are often confused by the differences between a job description and a job posting. And while they're often used interchangeably by both recruiters and hiring teams, the most significant differentiator is that they are, in fact, two very separate documents required in the hiring process

Job descriptions vs job postings - what's the difference?

Both the job description and job posting should accurately reflect the duties and responsibilities of the position or project. When a job description and job posting is written well, it will paint a realistic picture of the position or project and will answer the question, "What will the person in this role do on a day-to-day basis?"

While a job description and a job posting may share similarities, there are also a few other differences.

Job descriptions

Organizations seeking to engage a traditional employee or contingent worker must first develop an internal job description detailing the requirements of the job. Talent acquisition teams will use this internal document as a guide to create the best job posting to attract top talent.

A job description sets the foundation for the hiring process, developing and retaining workers while also setting the tone for work performance expectations. When hiring full-time employees, it also helps to maintain an equal compensation system.

A job description is important because this is an organization's first step in marketing their company and position to a future hire.

What should job descriptions include?

A job description is an internal document that clearly details the essential duties and responsibilities, qualifications and skills required for a project or position. A great job description will list the core must haves and nice to have skills, desired industry experience and level of education. A job description should include the job title and outline important company details, such as corporate culture, mission, working conditions and any benefits provided. The job description should be as detailed as possible.

What are job descriptions used for?

A job description is an internal document that is created when an organization identifies the need to bring talent into its workforce for a position or project. Once completed, and approved by key stakeholders involved in the hiring process, the job description is then shared with the organization's hiring team or staffing agency partner to create engaging, external job postings that will attract the most qualified talent. A job description is required in order to create an external job posting.

Takeaway: The job description is the foundation of talent acquisition

The job description sets the framework and requirements for who an organization is hiring, where hiring teams should be looking to hire, the interview process and how employers should be aligning compensation with the position.  All of these steps are products of a well-defined job description and the responsibilities included within it -- so when the selection process is complete, the right person has been hired for the position or project. The job description is the first real step in talent acquisition - without a job description, there can be no job posting.

What is a job posting?

Once an organization has identified the need to bring talent into its workforce and the internal job description has been created and approved, talent acquisition teams will use that job description to create an external job posting to market the position or project and attract top talent.

What should job postings include?

Job postings need to include the job title as well as convey the requirements of the position or project in order to sell the company/position while setting the correct worker expectations.

As the job market starts to eventually return to a new sense of normalcy, candidates will want to know how companies treated their workforce during the coronavirus pandemic. Organizations must balance the decisions made today to address immediate concerns during the pandemic with the long-term impact on their employer brand - and these decisions will have impacts that will span many years.

Along with managing employer branding and listing the must haves and nice to have skills, industry experience and desired level of education in job postings, job postings should also describe day-to-day responsibilities, start date, the length of the job and indicate how their work will impact the company.

You may want to consider including a video in your job posting as well. Digi-Me finds that video job ads are 53x more likely to appear on the first page of Google searches and can improve a candidate’s understanding of a job by as much as 300 per cent!

CareerBuilder also finds job postings with video have a 34 per cent greater application rate than postings without videos.

What are job postings used for?

A job posting is used to advertise your organization's opportunity to the job market. The recruitment landscape - and the world itself - is constantly changing. The coronavirus pandemic has presented an unprecedented situation, and for the jobs that are still available in markets that have experienced disruptions rather than destruction, it's going to remain competitive for job seekers.

An effective job posting will find the balance between providing enough details about the role and company, while being kept to a minimum. Indeed reports that job postings kept between 700 and 2,000 characters receive up to 30 per cent more applications!

And unless your organization is a household name, chances are that when a job seeker clicks on your job posting, it’s their first time engaging with your brand. In addition to advertising the skills and duties and responsibilities required of the job, a job posting is also used to highlight an organization's employer brand.

Takeaway: Chances are, a job posting is a job seeker's first time engaging with your brand

Job postings are an equally important factor in effective recruitment, and unless your organization is a household name like Coca-Cola or Google , chances are that when a job seeker clicks on your job posting, it’s their first time engaging with your brand.

For this reason, it's critical to craft a compelling job posting that will attract top talent by selling both company and the position or project.

Job descriptions and job postings are both critical components to bringing qualified talent quickly and cost effectively into your workforce.

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