The Difference Between a Job Description and a Job Posting

A job description is internal, and a job posting is external. It's okay to use the terms interchangeably, but not the documents.

A job description and a job posting are the same thing, right? Not necessarily. Depending on where you live and work, people may use the terms interchangeably (e.g., in the United States), or they may not (e.g., the United Kingdom).

What’s a job description and what’s a job posting?

Technically speaking, a job description is an internal document used by human resources teams, hiring managers, and employees as an overview of a role. A job posting or job ad is, technically speaking, an external document used by hiring teams in recruiting efforts.

It’s not terribly important whether you use job description or job posting. What is important, however, is that you have two separate documents, one for internal use and one for external use. Here are some important distinctions between a job description and a job posting (technically speaking).

A job description for internal use

How do you know what everyone is doing at your organization and how it relates to what everyone else is doing? How do you know who’s in charge? What about how much you should pay everyone? And what about ensuring that you’re in compliance with company guidelines and employment law?

Many companies use a job description as an internal reference and compliance document. It’s a complete description of a position, including its roles and responsibilities, its place on the org chart, and potential skillsets required for the position. 

A job description can clarify expectations for both the organization and the person in the position. It helps in setting salaries, conducting performance reviews, defining advancement possibilities, complying with internal and external rules, and writing a job post to advertise a role. Organizations should keep files of their complete job descriptions. But only for internal use.

A job posting for external use

How do you tell the outside world about an open job and your organization? How do you describe the role without copying and pasting the internal job description, thus creating information overload for job seekers?

A job post or job ad can introduce your organization and describe an open role. It just does it in a shorter, more digestible form that’s better at selling the role to potential candidates than the full-length version. It may help to think of it as the recruitment marketing version of the job description. The content is a little different, as is the process by which you write the document. Also, there’s software on the market that can help with job post writing.

A job post includes the basic roles and responsibilities as well as the minimum requirements needed for the position. It also provides an overview of your compensation, benefits, and perks packages. And it (hopefully) conveys your approach to company culture, work-life balance, and diversity and inclusion. 

Job description versus job posting

A job description is the internal document you use to keep your house in order. A job posting is the external version of that document which you use to recruit talent. 

Whether or not you use the two terms interchangeably, it’s important to know the difference so you don’t use the two documents interchangeably. Because, in the end, a good job description (i.e., an exhaustive internal document) doesn’t make a good job post (i.e., a succinct marketing document).

Charlie S.

Charlie S.

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