Four Common Mistakes You’re Probably Making In Your Job Listings

Being too vague, too trite, or too sloppy could cost you your next great hire.

Four Common Mistakes You’re Probably Making In Your Job Listings
[Photo: Flickr user Meg Stewart]

When it comes to finding talented new employees, a job listing is the first impression candidates have of your company. Are you piquing their interest or sending them scrolling by your ad?


“Each step along the (hiring) journey should be authentic, reinforce the employer’s culture, and provide transparency into how employees are valued at an organization.” says Stacie Mallory, vice president of recruiting for Randstad Professionals, a staffing firm.  “Because online communication is one of the first touch points job seekers have with an organization, it is important to engage effectively from start to finish.”

Organizations that invest in a strong candidate experience improve their quality of hires by 70%, according to the career website Glassdoor. And that starts with a killer job listing. Unfortunately, experts say a lot of hiring managers make mistakes. Avoid these four common errors and boost your hiring success:

Having Sloppy Grammar

Poorly written job postings can be devastating to your recruiting efforts, says Ian Siegel, founder and CEO of the job marketplace ZipRecruiter.

“Misspellings and improper grammar are all too common errors hiring managers make when writing job postings,” he says. “If you are a job seeker, seeing misspelled words or poor grammar in a job posting is a potential warning sign that the hiring company is unprofessional and lacking in attention to detail. Those are terrible attributes in a workplace, and a real deterrent to applications from highly qualified candidates.”

Make sure your job posting is clearly written and error-free. Giving the ad to another staff member to proofread will help you catch mistakes that you might miss.

Being Vague About Compensation

Few employers include details on compensation, and that’s a big mistake, says Steven Rothberg, founder and president of College Recruiter, a job site for recent graduates. “Perhaps the employers think that it is 1972 and salary data is difficult to come by, or the employers want to maintain their negotiating leverage,” he says. “It’s really just another way of saying that they want to pay the employees less than they deserve.”


Not including an hourly rate or salary wastes people’s time, adds Robert Basso, president of Advantage Payroll Services and author of The Everyday Entrepreneur. “It results with too many applicants falling outside a business’s hiring range,” he says. “It wastes a company’s time with job applicant review. And the person applying for the job ends up wasting his or her time vying for a position that winds up not be the right fit.”

Prevent the problem from occurring by including hiring ranges. “This will keep both the company and the job candidate on the same page, increasing the odds that the company and the job candidate are more likely to be a match,” Basso says.

Using Fuzzy Wording

“Self starter.” “Team player.” “Three years of experience.” These types of descriptions are common in job listings, but do potential candidates know what they actually mean? Anything open to interpretation is a barrier to getting the right person, says Rex Conner, author of What if Common Sense Was Common Practice in Business?

“Three years of experience doing what?” he asks. “This kind of communication is problematic, because it can be interpreted differently by different people. Fuzzy communication has a debilitating impact on business, causing people to lose jobs.”

Conner suggests focusing on performance-based skills, replacing subjective descriptions with a list of observable performances.

“Instead of saying ‘team player,’ list the skills you observe when someone is being a team player,” says Conner. “For example, ‘Shows up to meeting on time. Volunteers for projects. Reviews team member work. Ability to work an odd schedule.’ Give your definition of what a team player needs to do.”


Listing Duties Instead Of Prerequisites

It’s tempting to include all of the employee’s responsibilities in the job ad to give the candidate an idea of what they’ll be doing, but you could be overwhelming or excluding people, says Conner. Start by making a list of all of their tasks. If you’re hiring a virtual assistant, for example, you might say, “Create reports using Excel. Perform online research. Upload content to the website. Schedule meetings. Moderate blog comments.”

Then divide them into two groups: those that are prerequisites, and those that will be learned during their training period. “Take out any skills they’ll be trained to do from your job listing,” says Conner. “You don’t need that for recruiting purposes.”

Listing too many requirements may give the impression that the opportunity is beyond someone’s qualifications, adds Mallory. “Limit the content to the three to four most essential duties and qualifications that summarize the role and desired experience,” she says.