03/15/2023 Getwork

Job descriptions in a candidate-short market

10 red flags to avoid when writing job adverts

It’s a challenging recruitment market, and employers are struggling to attract the right talent. To be as competitive as possible, creating the right Employer Value Proposition, ensuring a fantastic recruitment process, and gaining excellent online reviews are all vitally important. For many employers though, the job advert is overlooked. 

A 2022 survey from Paychex, asked 805 Americans, who had looked for a job in the last 12 months, what elements of a job ad put them off the most.

Survey Source: Paychex
Survey Source: Paychex

These are the top ten red flags that employers should try to avoid in job adverts. 

🚩 65% No specified salary range 

Compensation is a hot topic, in fact, 20 states in the US currently have pay transparency laws in place. 

In California, employers with 15 or more employees are required to disclose salary bands in every job ad and a similar law is coming into effect in the State of New York from September 2023.   

With 65% of applicants saying that no salary range is a major turn-off, and with more and more salary transparency laws coming into place across the US, now is the time to advertise salaries. 

🚩 60% Low base salary 

A low base salary can be a huge red flag for applicants. It shows that you as an organization are not valuing their skills and experience fairly.

Where possible, do some competitor research to attain a fair market value for the role you’re hiring for. 

🚩 50% Experience requirement too high for the position 

If you’re advertising for a managerial role in all but name, make sure that this is reflected in the salary and the job title. 

There’s nothing worse than a graduate-level role that requires multiple years of experience. It’s been estimated that 30% of graduate-level roles advertised require at least a year of experience, which doesn’t make any sense. 

If you only have the budget for a less senior role, reflect this in the job description and ensure that this follows through into the position itself. Only hire for what you can afford. 

🚩 49% “Pay commensurate on experience”

This is when the salary that an employer pays is based on the value they put on the experience of the applicant, rather than the value of this role. 

This means that an applicant must negotiate their salary and convince the employer of their worth. 

An approach such as this can make pay equality nearly impossible. 

🚩 48% Spelling and grammar mistakes 

Spelling and grammar mistakes show that little time, effort, or care has gone into the job ad. 

By spending the time to ensure that mistakes are not made, you show potential employees that you’re a professional place to work. 

🚩 43% Long list of job qualifications 

No one can do everything, nor should they be expected to. 

When your organization needs a lot of skills, then you should definitely be looking to hire more than one person. 

Keep job descriptions realistic to find the right people.

🚩 36% No mention of paid time off 

Most employees are willing to make less money to have more paid time off and in fact, 60% of employees will reject a job offer without it. 

Our neighbors across the pond in the UK have laws in place to offer full-time workers 28 days of paid holiday per year as a minimum. 

If you offer paid time off and you’re not mentioning it in job adverts, it’s time to change that. 

🚩 36% No mention of paid sick leave 

There may not be a federal law in place regarding sick leave, but most respectable companies offer this as a standard. 

With the pandemic highlighting to employees the vital importance of being able to stay home when they’re sick, make sure that you have a policy in place. 

🚩 33% Mention occasional work on the weekends 

We get it, sometimes you need your employees to be flexible, which could mean occasionally working outside of office hours. 

However, when the specifics aren’t made clear, this can mean great applicants do not apply. 

Try to describe exactly what this looks like, and any ways that you reward this. For example “The successful applicant will be expected to work one day over a weekend every month to cover our social media channels. This can either be taken as a day off during the normal working week or saved as paid time off.” 

🚩 33% Too many interview rounds 

Don’t exhaust applicants with interview exhaustion. Most applicants consider more than two rounds of interviews excessive so try and stick to just two rounds. 

Applicants are probably taking time out of their working day in order to attend interviews, so try to save their time. 

So what should employers be adding to job ads? 

Want to really make your job ads stand out? Paychex also asked participants for their top 10 green flags. 

64% Flexible hours

58% Remote work culture

57% Clearly explained responsibilities 

57% Clearly defined benefits 

54% Clearly defined compensation range 

45% Paid sick leave 

40% Hybrid work format 

34% Job role and company values align 

33% Learning and skill-building opportunities

24% Educational benefits. 

There are a lot of lessons from red flags, that appear as green flags also. Salaries, benefits, and clarity are all really important, whichever way you look at them.  

What we don’t necessarily cover with the red flags is flexibility in terms of hours and location. These continue to be really important to jobseekers who are increasingly looking for work-life balance in the workplace.