3 Phrases to Avoid Using in Your Job Descriptions

Alex Cherici
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A job description may be the first impression a candidate has of your company, just as the cover letter is your first impression of a candidate. And just as you won’t give a chance to a candidate whose cover letter is bland; job seekers will probably overlook a job description having the same unappealing characteristics.

Compelled by the urgency to hire people, companies often don’t invest enough time and effort in drafting good job descriptions—they just want to get them out fast in hopes that many applicants will respond. But hasty, hence generic and ineffective, job descriptions may attract a lot of equally generic, i.e., non-qualified, candidates. Making your job description clear and appealing to the right pool of applicants is a deciding factor for securing talent.

There are many types of words and phrases that could negatively affect a job ad. Here are three you should avoid…

• “Ninja” This supposedly catchy job title has become increasingly popular and many companies use it to entice young audiences. Its overuse, however, earned it a spot among the most hated buzzwords of 2022 for it is uninformative and inaccurate. Think: historically, ninjas were mercenaries renowned for their deceptive and irregular warfare skills. So, unless you’re looking for a crafty person who uses deceitful and unorthodox means to reach an end, why don’t you simply say “skilled” or “proficient”? Further, “ninja”, along with the almost equally hated “rockstar” and “guru”, should be avoided also because it’s easily perceived as gender biased, due to its stereotypical masculine association.

• “Multi-tasker” Certain requirements appear in virtually all job descriptions: multi-tasker is perhaps the most recurrent. If it ever meant something exceptional besides the multi-tasking ability most adults have and use to manage work, family, and personal life, it no longer does. It’s just become vague job-ad jargon that obscures what skills are actually required for the job. Similarly overused and uninformative words are “detail-oriented”, “self-motivated”, and “fast-paced”. Job seekers are aware that practically every job requires multi-tasking, attention to detail, motivation, and efficiency. So, by including these skills in your job description, you’re only stating the obvious. Instead, precisely describe facts that allow candidates to get deeper insights of the job. 

• “World-class” It’s assumed that any company seeks to hire the best talent on the market. So, using an excessive quantity of superlatives, above all “world-class” (but also exaggerations like “perfect”, “impeccable”, “unrivaled”), only contributes to redundancy. This word choice also projects an unrealistic goal that could discourage applicants who think their skills are not so exceptional. Go easy on superlatives in your job description. Using one or two to emphasize skills you deem crucial for the position is ok, but embellishing each bullet-point with one doesn’t add anything substantial to your description and makes it less effective.

When you’re drafting your job description, take a look at other ads available online: you’ll see that many look strikingly similar, despite not being for the same position. Make sure that yours is not just another copy: make it clear, simple, and specific, and it’ll stand out from the crowd

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