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Job description vs job ad – do you know the difference?


18 May 2023

If your organisation has a position to fill it can be quite confusing on what’s needed. Do I need a job description? Do I need to write a separate job advertisement? The answer is: you need both.  There is a common misconception that these documents are similar however a job description and a job ad serve different purposes and contain different information. Understanding the difference between them can be useful for both employers and job seekers.

What is a Job Description?

A job description is a detailed document outlining the responsibilities, behaviours, skills and knowledge required for a specific role. The purpose of a job description is to provide a clear understanding of what the job entails and what skills, behaviours and qualifications are necessary for the position. It is important for a job description to be accurate and comprehensive to ensure employees have a good understanding of the job and what is expected of them.

A typical job description may include the following:

  • Job title
  • Reporting structure
  • Status of the role (permanent/casual/contract)
  • Hours for the position
  • A brief job summary
  • Key transparent and measurable responsibilities and duties
  • Required qualifications, skills, and experience
  • Values and behaviours

A job description is the first thing to be created when the need for a new position is identified in your business. It can then be used to develop job postings, screen candidates and conduct interviews, set out performance measures for probation and beyond, and assist in managing job performance expectations. It is a detailed document outlining the qualifications, responsibilities, and expectations of the job.

What is a Job Advertisement?

A job advertisement is a marketing tool used by organisations to attract candidates to apply for an open position. Unlike a job description, a job advertisement is meant to be more concise and attention-grabbing. The purpose of a job advertisement is to create interest in the job opening and entice qualified candidates to apply.  It is meant to be more visually appealing and attention-grabbing than a job description, with a focus on selling the benefits and perks of the job and organisation.

A typical job advertisement may include the following:

  • Catchy job title
  • Brief job summary highlighting key responsibilities and duties
  • Required qualifications, skills, and experience
  • Information about the organisation and its culture
  • Instructions on how to apply
  • Deadline for applications

If you need any further information on this topic or would like one of our consultants to review your current documents reach out to us on 1300 474 672, or send us an email.


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