• Shayne Leslie

The gap between a good job ad and a poor one

How many of you are ready to have a look around for a new challenge this year?

There is a significant problem with many job ads, however. The writers of these epic tomes seem to detail the position under three headings, About the Role, Key Responsibilities and Essential Criteria/Ideal Candidate, yet criteria across the headings don't quite match.

By the time we’ve made it to the end of the ad, as candidates we’re genuinely confused. Guess what happens. We give up.

The ads don't specify:

  • How will candidate’s responses be assessed?

  • What are today’s priorities and associated skills being sought?

  • What are the challenges and specific skills being sought to problem solve?

  • What kind of leadership does the position require?

Candidates don’t want to waste their time. You don’t want to waste your time.

Let's look at a real live seek ad for a F&B Manager in the South-West of Sydney.

About the Role

When I summarise the key points, I find the following:

  • Focus and vision to manage the day-to-day operations

  • Accountable for the development, implementation and evaluation of service standards, developing revenue growth, staff development and presentation of all food and beverage areas.

  • Culinary and/or hospitality operations background

  • New ways to improve and challenge the current processes and systems to make a difference.

The opening sentence, point 1 is already confusing. It is talking about management but messes with leadership. Focus, for example, is looking at your computer screen and concentrating on the task at hand. Vision is looking out the window. They are two completely different skill sets and mind sets. Focus belongs in operations. Vision belongs to strategy and leadership, and is better suited to point 4. Already, we are confused.

2 refers to the reporting hierarchy and 3 relates to general background. We are left with a mish-mash of management, leadership, reporting frameworks and a confusion of basic theoretical terms. And that’s just paragraph 1. Yet we know nothing of the organisation...

Key Responsibilities

I’ve summarise the Key Responsibilities from nearly 200 words to 50.

  • Effective management

  • Strategic goals

  • Consistently grow revenue

  • Procedures for consistency and delivery

  • Innovative marketing strategies

  • Control, analyse and report

  • Accountability for financial management

  • Lead, coach and performance manage

  • Development of team

  • Oversee purchasing

  • Quality control program

  • Safe and hygienic

The Ideal Candidate

When we look at the ‘Ideal Candidate’ we end up with a different bunch of words!

  • Club or Hotel experience

  • Business, communication, change management and customer service skills

  • High level of customer experience

  • Concept ideas, menus and products

  • Strong finance

  • Substantial negotiation skills

  • Results driven

  • Strong leadership and motivation skills

  • Work under pressure and solve problems

  • Communication skills

  • Performance management

  • Solid report writing, computer and literacy skills

  • WH&S, RSA, RCG and Food Safety

  • Flexible hours

So where should I begin?

I would ring the HR person to discuss and see if I am going to be a good fit, but there is no number to call. How rude. I am expected to guess. It may be an indication of the workplace culture and attitude to staff.

I could spend the time to group the whole lot of criteria to better formulate my response, which I have done below under the heading 'Criteria Summarised'. For jobs I really want to go for, this is the amount of effort I put in (note, some criteria are mentioned more than once in the job ad – does this make them more important? I don’t know!).

What I would like to know from this list is what is super important so I can position information on my application letter for maximum impact. I know the reviewer is only going to give my resume and letter a cursory glance at first so I have about 4 seconds.

The way the criteria is set out should help me understand this. But it doesn’t. My 2 big questions are:

  • What skills are required from day 1 (the immediate pain points) versus what skills will the organisation help me develop?

  • Do they need a leader to go and mess things up, or a steady team player, or someone who is going to keep a detailed eye on numbers?

Criteria Summarised in the Integrated Recruitment way!


  • Vision; make a difference

  • Communication / Communication skills

  • Change management

  • Substantial negotiation skills

  • Results driven

  • Strong leadership and motivation skills

  • Work under pressure

  • Solve problems


  • Focus to manage the day-to-day operations

  • Culinary or hospitality operations background / Club or Hotel experience

  • Effective management to meet strategic goals

  • Revenue growth / Consistently grow revenue

  • Control, analyse and report

  • Business skills


  • Accountability for financial management

  • Strong finance


  • Procedures for consistency and delivery

  • Oversee purchasing

  • Quality control program

  • Safe and hygienic / WH&S, RSA, RCG and Food Safety

  • Flexible hours


  • Service standards / customer service skills

  • Innovative marketing strategies

  • Concept ideas, menus and products

Workforce Development

  • Staff development and presentation

  • Lead, coach and performance manage / Performance management

  • Development of team

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