We’ve had some people ask about the difference between job descriptions, job postings and job ads. It’s a valid question since these terms are often used interchangeably.

Here’s some clarity based on the many years my team and I have spent automating our job description software.

What is a Job Description?

The phrase “job description: is the most common term for anything related to a job page.

Note: Some of this article is excerpted from the free Job Descriptions Guide by Ongig I recently wrote. 

The reason that “job descriptions” is used as an umbrella term is that the JD is where it all begins. Typically, the job description writing process is a collaboration between hiring managers, recruiters and the compensation team. It might look like this:

  • A hiring manager describes the position they need filled (duties, skills and other requirements, etc.). It may also include success metrics. Some call this the position description.
  • A recruiter or other HR person works with the hiring manager to complete the job description (e.g. handling standard sections that the hiring manager doesn’t have to worry about (Benefits, EEO/Diversity Statement).
  • The Compensation team nails salary/bonus info
  • This job description becomes the “system of record” for the job that needs to be filled

The “job description” is the foundation for 2 audiences:

  • Internal — HR planning, compensation planning, training efforts, and performance management.
  • External — It’s the trigger for external-facing job ads (typically called “job postings” or “job ads).

The best job descriptions include text that is:

  • Gender-neutral
  • Readable
  • Positive sentiment
  • Simple opposed to complex words

And now on to the external-facing job posting…

What is a Job Posting?

“Job Posting” is the most common phrase for the job page that a company uses externally to attract a candidate.

A job posting tends to live in 2 main areas:

Some employers take most or all of the content from their job description and use that for their job posting.

Their internal and external job description/posting are sometimes identical.

Other employers withhold certain job description info from their job postings such as:

  • Salary
  • Reporting structure
  • Internal goals/success metrics.

The best job postings include a combination of:

  • Video
  • Images
  • Maps/Location Content
  • Recommended Jobs
  • Employee Testimonial
  • Glassdoor & Linkedin Widgets

An Example of a Job Description vs Job Posting

job description vs job posting

What is a Job Ad?

A “job ad” (or job advert as they say in the U.K.) is often synonymous with “job posting” but can also be different.

The term “ad” implies that it’s a job page that you are paying someone to get advertised (e.g. when you pay a job board to get extra promotion of your job).

Understandably, those folks would not use the term “job ad” to describe a job page on an internal company career site.

Others use the term “job ad” to describe a job page that has extra engagement. Katrina Kibben of Three Ears Media, for example, defined job ad (in 7 Things I Learned Writing Job Postings in 60 Days) as:

“What you use on Facebook or social media, for example, that promote the job. These are strategic images, sponsored posts, etc.”

I see where Katrina is coming from.

The “ad” in “job ad” suggests the job page is paid for one way or the other (the employer either paid a job board or invested in strategic images or video or leveraging copywriters, etc.).

The best job ads are:

  • Optimized for social sharing (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter)
    • Have an engaging thumbnail image
    • A snippet of the job description (focused on company or position)
    • Link to the job posting
job ad

For some tips on writing job descriptions (or job postings), check out How to Write a Job Description — Best Practices & Examples.

Why I Wrote This

I love anything related to the almighty job description. Check out Ongig’s Candidate Experience and Text Analyzer software if you want to attract top talent and remove all bias from your job descriptions.

by in Job Descriptions