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A Job Vacancy Ad Doesn't Need to Look Like a Wish List

A Job Vacancy Ad Doesn't Need to Look Like a Wish List

Get more information about business degrees at American Public University.

By Dr. Marie Gould Harper
Program Director, Management at American Public University

I have seen articles supporting the notion that we have entered a period with increased job opportunities and changing jobs can be advantageous. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 222,000 in June 2017.

However, it is necessary to review what types of jobs are now available and if they offer better pay. In its July 7, 2017, report to Congress, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors noted that “despite the broad-based strength in measures of employment, wage growth has been only modest, possibly held down by the weak pace of productivity growth in recent years.

Similarly, private sector hiring has increased. Small businesses added 48,000 employees, mid-size businesses added 74,000 workers and large businesses added 115,000 people. Nearly all the job gains came from the service sector, which produced 204,000 jobs.

Why Are Job Vacancy Ads Not Attracting Enough Qualified Candidates?

For many employers, their chief concern is that there are not enough qualified candidates for available positions. Could it be that companies are not presenting their advertised vacancies correctly?

Some of the most sought-after candidates go through the hiring process in the same way recruiters screen candidates for available jobs. Recruiters will immediately nix resumes that do not meet the qualifications for the vacancy.

Job candidates look at job ads in the same way. If they read a job advertisement and can’t figure out what the company seeks, they will move on to the next job listing.

What Are the Pet Peeves of Job Applicants?

Some job advertisements share certain common features that put off good candidates, such as:

Job description versus job advertisement. According to Georgia-based employee development blogger Linda Brenner, “Using a job description in place of a job ad is perhaps one of the biggest gaffes that take place in recruiting.” If I see a job description listed as a job advertisement, I automatically assume that the company has a novice HR recruiter. The job description is typically reserved for internal business purposes, while the advertisement plays up the desirable aspects of the position as well as what’s expected.

However, I am sure some companies will defend the use of the entire job description as giving the candidates all of the information they need. But if a candidate listed every task and responsibility on his or her resume (and some do), wouldn’t that be the same mistake?

Brenner suggests this mistake occurs when recruiters are busy and in a hurry to place the ad. They may also be told by the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) or by the legal department that the entire job description must be posted.

Forbes contributor and career coach Nancy Collamer suggests that these “mismatch” ads are created for several reasons:

  • Employers who are inexperienced in the hiring process. Collamer notes, “At many places, particularly smaller ones, the hiring is handed off to people with little or no experience writing job descriptions.”
  • Employers who are willing to wait for the “perfect” candidate. According to Collamer, these employers “won’t compromise for second best. So they create an exaggerated wish list and cross their fingers.”
  • Employers who post ads but do not intend to hire an outsider. Collamer says the ad is actually a phantom posting because “sometimes — especially when there’s a qualified candidate on staff, waiting in the wings — managers intentionally write job descriptions in a way that discourages outsiders from applying so the insider will be a shoo-in. Not nice, but it happens.”

Fictitious job advertisements. Writer Max Nisen, who covers management for the worldwide online business news outlet Quartz News, says, “Hiring managers get overexcited and list too many things, even though only a few parts of the description are truly core.”

Many candidates read only the requirements section, so the other parts tend to get overlooked in the initial assessment and the candidate’s determining of whether or not to submit a resume. According to Scott Purcell, a Silicon Valley-based technology recruiter at Jobspring Partners, “A lot of times when companies write job descriptions, they include everything that they dream of having.”

Wish list versus real requirements. Leaders in specific fields can tell when the HR department is in touch with what is needed for a position.

I see this problem in the technology industry. Many technical candidates can spot when a department doesn’t know what it needs to effectively get the job done. I have several former colleagues (including my husband) who have read job advertisements and attempted to explain to recruiters that they will not fill the position because the ad does not accurately reflect the skill set needed for the work they want performed.

What Are the Possible Consequences of the Wrong Type of Job Advertisement?

If a job vacancy ad is not a good reflection of the job, the company could lose quality candidates. For example, as noted above, potential candidates nix job openings because they cannot figure out what the position requires or they believed they do not have the minimum qualifications for the job.

But if the advertisement has a little bit of everything, the recruiter could be swamped by an influx of resumes. Many candidates might see bits and pieces of the advertisement that apply to them and mistakenly think they are adequately qualified for the job.

How Can You Write a Good Advertisement?

There are several ways to write a good ad that targets the quality candidates your organization wants to hire:

  • Create an announcement specifically targeted to the audience that you seek.
  • Take the most critical functions of the job and add company promos, highlighting why your organization is a good place to work.
  • Make sure the proper buzzwords are in the job vacancy ad. Those buzzwords should be suited to the position or career field. For example, the buzzwords for a learning manager could be instructional design, teaching and online.

When a company doesn’t understand what it needs in a potential employee, the HR recruiters should wait to post a job rather than guess at the requirements. That extra time will actually save time and money for the company, the recruiter and the potential job applicants.

Get more information about business degrees at American Public University.

About the Author

Dr. Marie Gould Harper is the Program Director of Management at American Public University. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Wellesley College, a master’s degree in instructional systems from Pennsylvania State University and a doctorate in business from Capella University. She is a progressive coach, facilitator, writer, strategist and human resources/organizational development professional with more than 30 years of leadership, project management, and administrative experience. Dr. Gould Harper has worked in both corporate and academic environments.

Dr. Gould Harper is an innovative thinker and strong leader, manifesting people skills, a methodical approach to problems, organizational vision and ability to inspire followers. She is committed to continuous improvement in organizational effectiveness and human capital development, customer service and the development of future leaders.