Woman writing a job advert

The importance of writing honest job adverts

It’s time to seriously rethink job adverts — for both business benefit and candidate clarity.

If we take a look at the latest job postings on LinkedIn or job boards, every role — for almost every company — appears to be practically identical. We know that the same job title can vary wildly from business to business, especially when it comes to responsibilities and expectations. So why are there so many identikit job adverts? And why should businesses care?

We’re throwing money at an avoidable situation

Companies spend a great deal of time, money, and effort on talent attraction.

The cost of attracting qualified candidates is growing, especially in economies reaching full-employment. With skills gaps in the global market widening, finding competent people for technical professions is becoming increasingly complex. The speed of change in the talent market is breathtaking.

Though recruiters could utilise increasing amounts of money to help solve the problem, either through paid posts or increased job board spend, there is a simpler way to attract the right candidates to a business. Improving job ads.

Generic job ads are bad for a business’ bottom line

According to a Glassdoor study undertaken in 2013, 61% of new recruits say the realities of their jobs are different from expectations set during the recruitment process. This isn’t due to over-expectations from job seekers. Instead, it’s down to poor communication.

The cost of replacing someone in a permanent role is, on average, six to nine months’ salary. For executive positions such as CEO, this can rise to over two years’ salary.[1] If we set the wrong expectations in job ads from the outset, chances are that recruited talent will start to wonder why they accepted the job in the first place. Potentially, it can lead to talented people considering their position within the business.

No one wants to do a job they aren’t comfortable with. No business wants to waste money on avoidable expenses. When it comes to recruiting and retaining people, writing clear and effective job adverts is one of the key drivers of success.

We need to radically rethink the traditional, generic approach to job adverts. Here’s how to make sure job ads are not just honest, but actually attract the best candidates to a business.

Moving away from generic templates

Many human resources (HR) professionals see writing job adverts as a trivial task, amongst the least important of their duties and responsibilities. This often leads to the use of generic templates sourced online or edited slightly from previous attempts to recruit talent.

A step change needs to occur if businesses want to attract the best candidates. Creating a job advert should be approached as though it were a blank canvas rather than a quick copy-and-paste exercise.

Writing job adverts is indeed an art form. Every role is different, requiring different skills and different personal and cultural characteristics. But when it comes to job ads, this is rarely clear from the outset.

When a job seeker stumbles across a job ad, they should know fundamentally what the role is, what the requirements and expectations are, and what the team and company objectives are.

An important aspect that also gets overlooked is accurately representing a company’s culture. Every job description should explicitly state what the working environment is like, what the company’s ethos and values are, and what the business truly believes in.

Without these, how can a candidate know that their values align? 

Staffing industry professionals understand that cultural values and having a job with purpose are increasingly important to potential candidates, but especially to millennials — who now make up more than half the workforce.

Failing to express what makes a business’ culture unique in a job advert could be the difference between a high-value, highly-skilled person applying for a role and the best talent choosing a more recognisable company that better expresses its cultural values.

At Impellam, we believe that it’s important for our candidates and clients to trust us as a business, as this leads to high candidate and client retention. Honest job adverts are one way to build trust.

Not every role is perfect

It’s easy to get caught up in hyperbole.

How often do we see job adverts that lay bare the pros and cons of exactly what a job involves? Being an administrative assistant or office manager, for example — both have their pros and cons. But the majority of job adverts make both professions appear flawless.

These type of job ads are essentially fictitious, and they undermine trust. For maximum effectiveness and to build trust with a candidate, job ads should not only list the exciting parts of the role but also the mundane aspects. Even the best jobs have their drawbacks.

It’s time to start being candid with candidates. After all, honesty builds trust. When a candidate trusts a brand, they are more inclined to apply for roles and be more likely to stay for the long-term if recruited. And we already understand the financial and secondary costs of poor people retention. 

Make job adverts unique and inspiring. Most importantly, make them honest.



[1] $317,125 or AU$455,325

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