SmartRecruiters Blog

6 Job Description Clichés To Avoid At All Costs

The average job description is a breeding ground for meaningless corporate babble, but it’s mostly these six overused, vacuous phrases that steer candidates away rather than hold their interest.

To excel at anything requires a finely honed BS meter, and few things fail the smell test like overused corporate jargon in the workplace. Seeing the same phrases in your company job descriptions is equally groan-inducing for candidates. Writing job descriptions can feel like a time suck for recruiters who are pressured to quickly fill multiple positions, and this often results in job postings riddled with office lingo that end up discouraging qualified candidates from applying. More words do not equal more meaning, and a word salad can hinder the process, taking three times longer to fill the open position.

You want accurate and engaging job descriptions to attract high-quality talent, improve your organization’s time to hire, and drive more candidate traffic to your company. Job seekers read a lot of job descriptions—natch—and can see through hollow jargon, so before you put anything out there, take a break, read it again, get a second pair of eyes, and purge your JD’s of the following howlers. You’ll only look better in the end.

1. “The fast-paced environment”
This all-too-common phrase in the startup world tries to mask the reality that a new hire will start his or her first day weeks behind schedule with no one available to train them. A common excuse for this is a lack of “bandwidth”–another word to avoid unless you’re hiring at an internet provider–means that no one has the time or motivation to invest in training a new employee. If your organization needs to hire someone who can get up to speed quickly, outline what the candidate is expected to learn and accomplish within the first few months of the role.

2. “Excellent interpersonal/communication skills”
A recruiter should be able to tell from a quick glance at a candidate’s resume and cover letter whether or not he or she is organized and articulate. Instead, listing these “soft skills” suggest a new hire shouldn’t be abrasive or disagreeable with other employees. Instead, give practical examples of how public speaking, presentations, or collaborative projects are major functions of the role, and how candidates can succeed in these areas.

3. “Self-motivation”, “self-starting”, “proactive”
Translation: We want someone to predict the future, to know exactly what management wants, when they want it, and without them asking for it. Rather than these descriptors, use the job description to define expectations for the role, establish clear metrics for success, and goals that demand high-level job performance.

4. “Amazing, fun company culture”
Beyond the meaningless superlatives that do nothing to describe the company’s function or culture, phrases like this show that company leadership has only just discovered the concept of employer branding. Some companies will praise their office perks as a way to distract from underwhelming salaries. Employees are a company’s greatest brand advocates, so find ways to highlight the workplace culture through testimonials and other positive messages, rather than throwaway BS no one can define.

5. “Competitive salaries”
While salaries can be negotiated with respect to a candidate’s prior work experience, this term mostly means a company will ask for your expectations and cull the CVs asking more than they can pay. Financial compensation is one of the top concerns for prospective candidates, and with job aggregators like Glassdoor advertising estimated salary ranges in candidates’ search feeds, companies are much more likely to attract and convert candidates with an accurate salary range.

6. Hashtags. Stop it with the hashtags—you’re a grown-up
Job descriptions can feel dry, but it’s far better to err on the side of formality than feign cool, and using hashtags to convey a sense of playfulness. This doesn’t impress serious candidates. Even if you’ve been dying to trend #spreadsheets4lyfe, odds are candidates will take you less seriously if your job description reads like an Instagram caption. Make a strong statement with your company brand— it speaks louder than even the choicest of trendy hashtags. #tryharder

Scott Wardell