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Are you overselling your job roles?

Are you overselling your job roles Content

Have you ever received something that left you a little… disappointed? Well, that’s how job candidates are feeling.

A 2022 survey by The Muse showed that nearly three-quarters of the respondents had started jobs only to find that the role wasn’t what they thought. And with 28% of new employees leaving a job in the first 90 days, this is definitely something we should be worried about.

I get it – it’s never been more tempting to oversell a role. A shortage of applicants, huge competition for roles and increasing demands from a new generation of employees are all taking their toll on companies desperate to fill vacancies.

But if you’re guilty of making a job sound more attractive than it is to secure the best talent, stop. By overselling job roles you’re just swapping a recruitment problem for a longer-term retention problem.

It’s time to think more like a marketer about your job ads. And a good place to start is that old marketing chestnut, the four Ps.

Need a refresher? The four Ps of marketing are:

  • Product
  • Pay
  • Place
  • Promotion

So how can we use these to write better job ads and attract better candidates without misleading them? Let’s look at the four Ps one at a time:


Product is the ‘what’ of marketing, which, in terms of job ads, is the role you’re recruiting for.

Overselling what the role is, the level of responsibility and opportunities for career progression is a sure-fire way to do lasting damage to the relationship between you and your employees.

Think closely about the role you’re advertising. Is it really what you need in your company? Is it one role, or two? How does it fit with your organisation’s goals and mission? What’s the career progression pathway?

Having real conversations within the business before you hire is vital if you want to avoid costly mistakes. To avoid overselling the role you need to be honest about what it entails, too. Don’t be afraid to highlight some of the challenges in the job ad – you might turn some people off but you’ll also filter candidates who won’t stay the distance.

TIP: Interview existing employees about their role – the challenges, day-to-day responsibilities and the opportunities – to get a clearer picture about what you’re offering.


Let’s face it, ‘Competitive salary’ means nothing these days. Before fobbing your candidates off with no salary information, think carefully about how this makes them feel. Why is this employer being cagey about the salary? Is it really that bad?

Be open and transparent about salary in your job ads. And if the salary will vary according to experience, say so – but you still need to include a ballpark figure.

TIP: Do market research on industry standards to find out what pay grade you should be offering.


Even with hybrid working, location is crucial for most candidates. So let people know where the role is based – and be honest about how often they’re expected to be there. Overselling flexible working is something more and more employers are guilty of.

TIP: Build in a commute calculator to your careers site to help the candidate work out their travel times and envisage themselves in the role.


How you sell your job ad is as important as what it says. The most important thing to remember is that search engines will be trawling your copy. So research your job titles and choose the most recognised terms for the industry (oh, and definitely avoid ‘funky’ words like ‘ninja’).

TIP: Avoid overselling by using word-of-mouth marketing – aka an employee referral scheme.

Above all, remember that good recruiters follow up. Schedule in one-to-ones regularly to check that your newest employees feel that their role is what they imagined. Then course correct or have a real conversation if things have gone off track.

After all, a listened-to employee is a happy one.

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