15 Common Mistakes Found In Job Descriptions

By Joel Syder - Nov. 5, 2018
Improve Your Company Branding With Zippia

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Joel Syder – business analyst and writer for Academic Brits. His opinions are his own.

When scrolling through job advertisements it’s often easy to get a feeling that they are all the same. This happens because job descriptions are generic and usually bland.

Top talent aren’t attracted by this. They are looking for something exceptional and worthy of their skills to grab their attention. Unfortunately, most job descriptions look like they were written in a template. To attract the best candidates, you need to avoid these common mistakes.

1. Setting a confusing job title

With more and more young people entering the job market – especially in the most popular industries – companies have started using confusing but trendy-looking titles.

You have probably seen them everywhere. ‘Data Ninja’, ‘Growth Hacker’, ‘Rockstar Copywriter’ and so on are some of the most common job titles today.

In addition to being meaningless, they are also confusing to the candidates. Use regular titles that describe their future position.

2. Using gender-biased language

Certain words can come off as too masculine or too feminine. In either case, it’s not good. You might scare away excellent candidates this way.

Instead of making this mistake, focus on using a neutral language. Avoid words like strong, competition, dominant, fight etc. – these lead women to think that they are not well-suited for the job when they actually might be more qualified than any male contender.

You can also scare away men from traditionally female-oriented occupations with words like nurturing, caring and so on.

3. Using third person language

Using third person language is common in job advertisements yet it’s a huge mistake. It puts distance between your company and the potential candidates. It doesn’t feel personal or friendly but rather cold and too formal.

It’s best to stick to first and second person with plenty of ‘you’ and ‘we’ in both the job description and the job advertisement.

4. The job description is too long

Even though job descriptions should be detailed and specific, job descriptions shouldn’t be too long.

You don’t have much time to impress your candidates. Create a compelling job description with enough information but keep it concise. No Fluff is necessary, just facts and important data.

Candidates want to see if the job is worthy of their attention and you need to help them find the necessary information as quickly as possible.

5. The job description is too short

Job descriptions can be too short as well. This simply means that you didn’t include enough detail. The best candidates don’t appreciate a lack of information. One or two sentences is not enough to encompass everything that they need to know.

Even a paragraph is not enough.

Instead of making your job description too short by cutting out the details, try to make it concise.

“Being concise and being too brief is not the same. Concise means not adding unnecessary detail but being too brief can cost you a lot of left out information”, – says Alex Park, a recruiter at Writemyx.

6. Including negative words

Writing a job ad or a job description is, in essence, copywriting. Copywriting comes with certain rules. One of them is not to use negative words. These words are not just those that come across as negative at first, but also those words which have an underlying meaning – one’s that can ben interpreted as you telling your candidates what to do.

Some examples are ‘must’, ‘never’, ‘always’, ‘strict’, ‘can’t’ and so on.

Instead, try words that don’t feel absolute or like you are giving orders.

7. Being vague

Another thing you can’t afford to do in job descriptions or job advertisements is being vague. You don’t have much space and you have to use that space wisely. Say everything that needs to be said about the position without leaving important details out.

Candidates are drawn to detailed job descriptions. They want to see exactly what they are applying to – they don’t want to guess.

8. Posting the ad in the wrong place

A high quality job advertisement will do nothing for you if you post it on the wrong platform. Research your audience and see where the best candidates gather to seek employment. Don’t post on a site where you can mostly find writers if you are looking for a web designer.

9. Not making it readable or accurate

You don’t have much time to engage potential candidates. If your ad or job description isn’t readable, they will bounce quickly. Format it so it has a lot of bullet points, short paragraphs and plenty of white space. Avoid making spelling and grammar mistakes as well – these only deteriorate your public image. You can use tools like Originwritings or 1Day2write to avoid such a situation.

10. Too much jargon

You may think that using jargon is acceptable since you are trying to attract professionals. However, every professional is a bit insecure and big technical words and abbreviations can scare them, make them feel incompetent.

Use regular, simple words instead, for a better response.

11. Not mentioning your company by name

It may seem like a good idea to craft a job description which solely focuses on the candidates but you should also add some information about your company. Include benefits about at your company and describe how you value your employees.

12. No salary information

While this is not always required, most candidates do expect to see at least a wage range in your job description / advertisement. This gives them a bit more insight into what kind of a company you are and helps them figure out if you are a good match for their desired salary.

If your candidates can’t see a salary, they would probably rather apply for other jobs which are more transparent about remuneration. Even though this may not be important for you, it’s extremely important to your candidates.

13. No unique voice

Just like your branding should be consistent across various media platforms, so should your job advertisements. The candidates will probably read the job description to see if it matches their skill but also to find out more about you.

Use your brand voice to communicate your employer brand. Present a happy, driven community and your values. Introduce them to your world.

14. Missing details

If you notice high turnover around a single position, re-read your job description to see if accurate information is included. Maybe you left out an important detail about the job or a responsibility that candidates don’t know about or the description is misleading in a way you may not have realised.

This can seriously change the perception of the job that the candidates have and cause all the wrong candidates to apply.

15. Having unrealistic expectations

You can’t necessarily expect to get a candidate with 15 years’ experience in web development but a young energy and a great design sense. This can scare away the right candidates. Instead of doing this, prioritize your requirements and highlight only the most important responsibilities related to the job.


Joel Syder

Related posts