Writing a good Job Ad: Mistakes to avoid

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The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend. – Henri Bergson

Any HR individual today knows that you have to have an Employer Branding strategy in place if you want to be successful and competitive on the market as a company. It’s a mandatory practice nowadays and the details which encompass the ideal of being perceived as a great employer surprise some of us on a daily basis. One of the early and small (and yet very important) steps is the Job Ad you have for your open vacancy. Here’s a first example in which Sally is working in a senior developer role for an IT company and has an extensive experience in the field. She led many projects and feels like she could step up on the managing position. Looking at the job board, she finds a manager position in her niche. The Job Ad isn’t too generic but has some contradicting info in the expectations part:

At least 5 years of experience working in a similar environment/field

That’s not a problem for Sally since she has more than 8 years of experience in that particular field. However, here comes the problem. After the initial info in the Job Ad, she’s asked a series of screening questions, one of which is:

How many years of experience as a manager do you have?

A trained eye knows that a good ATS will pick this up quite easily and filter the candidates who wrote more than 0. This is good for the company in the sense that they will have the most qualified candidates. However, this puts a shade to their Candidate Experience right from the start. You give them a glimmer of hope in which you’re not looking for managing experience, only to shatter it in the next paragraph.

Another example of a bad Job Ad is when a title for the position and its job description don’t match. Many companies try to sugarcoat their position by masking the title name, only to make it a better sales-pitch and a more attractive career choice. I will not discuss the ethics here but clearly, this has a huge impact on the candidate when they find out on the job interview that the job responsibilities aren’t quite what they initially seemed.

job ad
If only there was an option for it…

How to correct this and what effect does it have?

The right way to remedy this is being truthful to the candidates. In many ways, this does paint a picture of the company’s profile, culture and the way they operate. It’s a double edged-sword because understanding the business; you realize why some companies go down that route, especially because of the warring state of talents on the market. What those companies don’t realize is that they create a smudge on their brand and cement the potential relationship with a good candidate without even making contact with them.

Another irony is that Recruiters in those companies create unnecessary workload in which they have to screen all the candidates if their ATS isn’t matching the right keywords. It’s understandable as well because quantity can sometimes be more hopeful than quality in those types of situations. However, like in many instances, there is a hidden cost in all of that, which is time. If you need a particular profile within a specific time frame, you will target the specific candidates. There’s also a hidden cost of excessive workload, burnout and motivation with other employees so time to hire in the end is the most important metric which you ignore if you write a Job Ad in the way that it targets general experience within a specific field.

Creating misunderstanding.

The benefits in writing good Job Ads are many and they heavily outweigh the repercussions a company might have otherwise. We can list them below:

  • Candidates with specific expertise in the niche that’s required
  • A concise information in the Job Ad gives aura of professionalism (builds reputation)
  • Not cluttering your ATS with CVs which don’t match the skills you need
  • The right way to start good Candidate Experience
  • Not putting the company ethics in question
  • Not burning bridges with candidates who got rejected, making space for possible future relationships

There are probably many more as opposed to potential repercussions such as candidates getting that bad first impression or writing a negative review online.


Job Ads should be filled with concise, rich content that screams of quality culture that the company is trying to portray. The idea is that the Job Ad tells a story about the company it represents so that candidates can get an idea of a culture they would be potentially walking into even before they get into an interview. If that’s not on point, you’re opening yourself up to a bad first impression and we all know how hard that is to change.

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