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What is the difference between a job description and a job posting?

Question: What is the difference between a job description and a job posting? Can I just share the job description when advertising for a role?

Answer from Brody, PHR, SHRM-CP: While the job description and the job posting are similar, in that they both outline the duties of the role and the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) needed to perform those duties, each has a different purpose.

The job description is an internal document outlining the purpose of the role within the organization, the essential functions, and the necessary KSAs. It is often used to set the salary range, complete performance reviews, and if needed, create a performance improvement plan or consider accommodations. A job description will usually have more details about the day-to-day requirements of the position than a job posting, and it doesn’t need to include enticing language about the benefits the company offers or the company’s culture.

The job posting is what you use to attract candidates to the job and your organization. It’s, at least in part, a marketing tool designed to attract talent by not only discussing the duties of the job, but also the benefits you offer (both big and small) and the culture of your organization. While a job posting will usually include a fair bit of information about the job itself—so candidates have a clear picture of what they’re applying for—it probably won’t be as extensive as in the job description. The job posting will also have information on how to apply for the position and perhaps information about your screening and selection process.

While these two types of documents convey much of the same information, they’ll be more effective if you write each of them to achieve their respective purpose.

This Q&A does not constitute legal advice and does not address state or local law.

Brody has over 16 years experience in HR Compliance & Customer Service, supporting client companies within the small and medium size markets. He has a focus on identifying opportunities for growth and evolution within his client companies and strives to make his clients better HR practitioners in a collaborative manner. His past personal involvement with a small non-profit start up has created a special sense of devotion to supporting businesses that share a values based social responsibility. Brody holds dual HR certifications from the HR Certification Institute as well as the Society for Human Resource Management.

Legal Disclaimer: OTP is not engaged in the practice of law. The content in this post should not be construed as legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions concerning your situation or the information you have obtained, you should consult with a licensed attorney. OTP cannot be held legally accountable for actions related to its receipt.


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