The 7 biggest mistakes in job advertisements
In our “Personnel” segment, we see problems and challenges every day. Both with clients and with other regional companies, these occur and are often repeated. This usually leads to the waste of important resources, such as time and money. Sometimes it even leads to the loss of employees and applicants. However, these unnecessary mistakes can usually be easily avoided as soon as they are recognised and stopped.
For this purpose, we are launching our new series “7 Tips and Tricks for Your Company’s Success” this month. Here we provide information at regular intervals about possible faulty processes in the market and how they can be avoided. In the first issue, we talk about the 7 biggest mistakes in job advertisements. In addition, please also take note of our contributions on our YouTube channel and in the social media networks XING, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.
1. Wrong job title
The job title is the first point of contact of every interested party with an advertisement. If the wrong choice is made, applicants may not feel addressed or the ad may not even be displayed in search portals. Common mistakes include internal/unusual job titles or outdated or unclear job titles. Various online tools, e.g. Google Trends or searches, can help here. These identify the right search terms and incorporate them into the job title.
You should also ask yourself what the person you are looking for (m/f/d) would like to read. For example, modern job titles are used all the time, which the applicants you are looking for are often not familiar with.
It may also be that the reader is left in the dark about management responsibility. For example, “Marketing Manager (m/f/d)” is often sought and no managerial functions are described in the rest of the job description. What is usually being sought is an employee for the marketing department.
If you want a managerial function, you should write “Marketing Manager” or if you are simply looking for an employee, you should write “Marketing Employee” or even more specifically, for example, “Online Marketing Employee” if the focus is specifically on online activities. Just to briefly touch on solutions in this example.
2. Wrong job description
The description of the future workplace is insufficient in many job advertisements. Two extremes can often be observed here: Job descriptions that are too short but also far too detailed. As a rule, it is advisable to describe only the most important tasks precisely. Irregular and unimportant tasks can be safely omitted from the job advertisement. When writing a suitable job description, some skill and experience is therefore required to find the golden mean.
Wishes should also be marked as such here. Often you will find a wish list that not even the best candidate is able to fulfil completely. Thus, additional wishes should be described as “desirable” or “advantageous” and only mandatory requirements should be formulated as demands. Without which the applicant cannot be accepted. Too often we see that applicants are put off by requirements that are set too high or – but rather rarely – that descriptions that are too superficial make the job seem uninteresting to the applicant. It should also be noted that the human fit is more important than the professional fit. Some technical topics can also be learned quickly through internal training. Thus, these topics are not mandatory requirements, but should be marked as “would be nice” or “advantageous”.
To further describe the example under 1. If one is looking for a “Head of Marketing”, the job description should then also include the team size and statements on professional and/or disciplinary leadership. A manager may also look for budget responsibility and other important conditions. A “marketing employee”, on the other hand, will look for the necessary software tools and also the specific technical topics that he or she is to work on. For example, the social media to be used.
3. Incorrect training profile
The next mistake often creeps in when describing the necessary training of the desired candidate. Here, training is often required that does not exist in this form or combination on the current market or which is very rare. For example, if a degree is required, but the salary budget only allows for vocational training with further commercial training. In these cases it is difficult. Or if the job description calls for in-depth technical knowledge, but an industrial clerk is required as training. In these cases, the pool of applicants is severely limited. This means that there are very few people on the market who can fulfil these criteria.
4. Wrong channels
Many entrepreneurs today still believe that a newspaper ad is enough to find the right employees. This was also sufficient 15 years ago. Today, however, it is usually not possible to find qualified candidates there, or at least not enough. Applications today are almost exclusively digital. Currently, the channels that lead to success change within a few months! Due to the wide range of job portals on the Internet, it is advisable to use as many of them as possible. This will ensure that you receive a sufficient number of applications. Good recruitment agencies have flat rates here or can serve a large number (e.g. up to 50) of channels in parallel. In addition, depending on the target group, special campaigns may be necessary to reach the right candidates. Examples of this are social media campaigns or a card campaign in the car park of a fast food restaurant.
In our experience, a suitable search concept must be developed and the necessary channels defined in accordance with the vacancy being sought. For the sake of completeness, it should be mentioned that a direct approach (headhunting) by the companies themselves is prohibited by the UWG (Unfair Competition Act). However, this is permitted for personnel service providers and is a common means of obtaining specialists today. The complete successful “toolbox” for the search is not actually disclosed by any company or personnel professional.
5. No advantages/benefits listed
Most attractive applicants are in permanent employment and have no pressure to change jobs. Thus, convincing reasons must be provided why the potential new employer can be more interesting than the previous one.
Many entrepreneurs sell themselves short on this point because many advantages are taken for granted and are therefore not mentioned. A comparison within and also outside the sector usually helps to establish that there are significantly more advantages than originally assumed. In addition, certain standards have become established that an employer seeking employment should not fall short of. One example is holiday entitlement. Here 30 days p.a. have become established. If a searching company only offers 25, he or she is already at a decisive disadvantage.
6. No adaptation for mobile display
As already mentioned above, applications nowadays are made digitally. In fact, they are even carried out on mobile devices, which are often used by interested parties in the evening on the couch. In our experience, if the website was last updated some time ago, it can often happen that the content is no longer displayed correctly on smartphones and tablets. As a result, the number of applications drops significantly. This is because potential interested parties are immediately deterred and apply for alternative offers.
Also, the content and the appearance should generally be kept up to date. Every employee wants to be proud of his or her company. He or she expects the company to present itself professionally and advantageously on the digital platform that is so important today. It is also interesting that various companies do not even list the positions they are looking for on their homepage or do not keep the searches up to date.
7. Legally correct tendering
When advertising a job offer, the General Equal Treatment Act and other regulations must always be observed. If there are – often unintentional – violations, e.g. the unfounded exclusion of certain genders, age or marginalised groups, this can lead to a warning and severe penalties. Furthermore, the company is deprived of the opportunity to find an ideally suited applicant who may not meet the ideal in this one category.
Mistakes in job advertisements – Conclusion
The above list is by no means exhaustive, as it is a very complex subject area with numerous facets. Have you already implemented the above suggestions and still cannot find the right applicants? Then it is important to identify and eliminate the right problem areas. We would therefore be happy to invite you to a free initial consultation. There we will get to know your requirements and help you find the right applicant. Only the reverse view shows how important this can be. Ask yourself the question, “What turnover and revenue am I losing because I can’t find the candidate I’m looking for in a timely manner?”
Just recently an architect (m/f/d) said to us that he could not realise a 10 million euro project because he could not hire the architect he needed. When he considers the lost revenue, the cost of competently finding an architect (m/f/d) is considered ridiculously low. But if you don’t search or don’t give the issue of personnel the necessary priority, you can’t find either.