Somewhere between four and 100 words you should never use in your job posting

Bearded man in an office

It can be a struggle to make a real impact with your job posting and cut through the cacophony to appeal to the real talent. And there are things employers and hiring managers do that make the situation worse for themselves. One of these is using the wrong words.

Here are four words – that also have a whole bunch of related spin off words – that you should never use in your job posting.

Multitasker: It feels like almost every job posting now contains the word “multitasker,” so at best it’s a meaningless buzzword. Nobody is going to read yours and say “Hmmm, I’m not a multitasker so I won’t apply for this.” And that means it’s just taking up space and actually adds no value. At worst it suggests that you’re cramming too much into the position and the job is really three jobs expected to be done by one person for way too little money, which is pretty common these days, but not exactly a selling point.

Go-getter: What does this even mean? See also: “self-starter,” “results-oriented,” “team-player,” and every other cliché employers are cramming into postings these days – I’m sure you can come up with your own. If you want someone who is enthusiastic and motivated to see their hard work benefit an organization, say so. If you want someone who is comfortable managing a team or working as part of a group, say so. But keep in mind that almost nobody is looking to add a lazy misanthrope to their team, so it’s usually unnecessary to state otherwise. These clichés are used so often nobody even pays attention to them, which means that like “multitasker,” they add absolutely zero value.

Must: A recent study found evidence that showing what you can offer, rather than just listing what you need, attracts more and better applicants. Researchers manipulated language in job postings to say things like “You will have the opportunity to…” rather than “You will be required to…” (or, put another way, you “must”) and found that those worded in the former manner received not only more applications, but also three times the number of high quality applicants. And when listing qualifications, “The successful candidate will have…” sounds less didactic and school-marmy, and more professional, than “must have.”

Ninja: Or “Rock Star,” or “Guru,” or any other ridiculous unrelated tag you’re attaching to your job description. Guru is supposed to have a spiritual connection and is so overused it’s embarrassing for everyone. And you don’t want an IT “Rock Star” unless you want a programmer who can also wail off Eddie Van Halen’s Eruption solo at corporate events (which wouldn’t be bad, but probably shouldn’t be a job requirement). And a marketing “Ninja” would be someone who can create an email campaign, then stealthily creep into your competition’s offices and slaughter them all before they know what hit them – and I HOPE YOU DON’T WANT THAT. You are not looking for a covert feudal agent from Japan. Just ask for what you’re actually looking for. Also, don’t give the job some weird title like “Customer Happiness Manager,” when you mean “Customer Service Manager.” Your job won’t show up in related searches.

Now go forth and rewrite your job postings.


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