The terms “job description” and “job posting” are often used interchangeably, but they differ. There is some overlap since both describe a specific role within a company and a bit about the company itself. But a job description and a job posting are intended for two distinct audiences, each containing specific types of information.
What is a job posting?
A job posting is an external document written for job seekers. Its purpose is to announce an open position and inform prospective applicants of essential details about the job, the company, where and when the selected candidate will work, and the qualifications for consideration.
- High-level description
A job posting describes the role at a high level and focuses on the duties and responsibilities that are most important, and that will occupy most of the employee’s time. Not every aspect of the job needs to be included; for instance, a peripheral task that the employee will be doing just one or two hours a week may be omitted.
- Job appeal
The growing trend is to include sought-after options like hybrid or remote work, flexible scheduling, and unlimited Paid Time Off (PTO) as well as the salary range — more and more states require this by law, and it is an emerging best practice regardless. The job posting can paint a picture of the organization’s culture and opportunities for career growth: it is as much about selling the position to desirable candidates as it is about explaining the role.
Job postings also outline the qualifications sought in an applicant, including education and experience requirements; requisite training and certifications; and desired knowledge, skills, and abilities.
What is a job description?
While a job posting is for public consumption, a job description is an internal document. It is intended for employees, managers, compensation professionals, and other HR roles. A job description details the role in much greater detail than a job posting and includes all essential job duties and any other significant responsibilities that may be required.
- Promotion and compensation
Job descriptions aid managers and employees in understanding the job specifics and allow managers to hold employees accountable for those responsibilities. If an employee functions outside the job description’s scope, that merits examination. An overachiever may be a good candidate for promotion or a merit increase. If an employee is underachieving, the job description gives the manager something specific to highlight when reviewing performance with the employee.
- Performance expectations
A job description should be presented to employees for their signature during onboarding. This provides evidence that the role has been thoroughly explained. It is a vital piece of documentation for the company in case of future conflicts or confusion. But the job description remains essential beyond the training period and throughout the employee’s tenure to ensure that both employee and employer share an understanding of the job’s parameters.
If done right, a well-crafted job posting will get you the best candidate for hire, and a well-crafted and regularly updated job description will ensure that the employee, once on board, has the knowledge and tools to succeed.