Recruit, not Spook!

Phoebe Johnson

Words of witchcraft and frightening phrases that could be costing you talented candidates!

Think about it, what would steer you away from applying to a job role? Some things that come to mind might be low pay, a long commute, no benefits or bonuses... But, employers, we’re talking to you! Have you ever thought about how your job description might sound to  potential candidates? It might seem like your job post outlines a clear list of requirements, but when reading between the lines you might discover that your job description is riddled with red flags which could potentially leave possible applicants spooked by superficial language and false promises. Getting yourself into a job when you don’t know what to expect? That’s scarier than any haunted house. 

Demon-strate your company culture

Your job description does not only function to serve job seekers. It’s a chance for you, as the employer, to convey what sort of environment the candidate is going to be entering. You should think of your job description as a miniature screenshot of what life would be like at your company for prospective employees. You should consider the fact that your job description is actually someone's first introduction to who you are, and an insight to your company culture, so make it Count (Dracula)… If you word it right, you’ll attract better, more suitable candidates that will integrate smoothly into your team. So putting in the effort now, at this initial advertising stage, is sure to pay off down the line.

It’s in the subtlety of expression

Don’t fall victim to the pitfalls of archaic, overused language that you might think means one thing, but actually means another! So, what are those devilish words and phrases to avoid?

Keep your job descriptions targeted and specific. If the job is multi-skill, you don’t need to say that. Just lists the skills that you need. According to one jobseeker survey by payroll processor Paychex, the expressions most out of favour include: 
Work hard, play hard
Must handle stress well
Willing to wear many hats
Applicants should be humble
Overly ‘clever’ job titles

Work hard play hard

“fast-paced environment” (read, no work-life balance) 

As quiet quitting or anti-hustle culture gains traction in a tight labour market, tastes are changing when it comes to evaluating job descriptions. The phrase work hard, play hard might seem like a winner, but we quickly learnt that this translates as ‘work hard, that’s it’, the ‘play hard’ very rarely follows. 

Must handle stress well


Seriously, who handles stress well? Not even a carefully brewed potion could take all of someone’s stress away! And why would you announce that your company has a stressful work environment to a potential new employee? Most applicants now are looking for a workplace that understands the complexities of everyone's mental health - especially considering what we’ve been through collectively over the last 3 years! 

 “We’re like a family”

No, you’re not. Even if you might feel like one (we sometimes do) if your company culture is a little more relaxed, and you socialise a lot with your colleague, you’re still not like a family. It’s important to keep the distinction between a team and a family. Team is a much better alternative word, that highlights unity, strength, comradery and productivity, and it will help you and your employees to help keep clear boundaries. Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that ‘family’ does not have positive connotations for everyone!

Willing to wear many hats/Spin many plates


Wearing pointed hats and spinning plates, do they look like a ringmaster!? ‘Willing to wear many hats’ in short, means you’re probably going to expect the applicant to take on a LOT of responsibilities outside of their job role. That doesn’t really sound fair, does it? If you have responsibilities that fall into multiple job roles, maybe you should be hiring for that role as well, or including them in the description and hoiking up the salary. Fairs fair. 

Applicants should be humble


Don’t even get us started on this one. Nothing makes our blood boil (toil and trouble) like the word ‘humble’. Imagine working your socks off, achieving incredible things beyond your wildest dreams and then being asked to be humble. No, thanks. 

Looking for Rockstars, Dynamo’s and…Ninjas? 


Initially, you might think that these quirky job titles make your company sound unique and fun, but in reality it just looks like you don’t really know what you’re hiring for. When your job is dedicated to strategy and you’ve built your career on knowledge and experience, it’s incredibly patronising to have this reduced to some kind of ‘sorcery’ by a company trying to up their edge. Keep the job title clear so an applicant knows exactly what they’re getting themselves into off the bat.


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