10 clichés that taint your job ads

Sure, you’ve written job ads.

They’re pretty much templated. Just gather up the job duties, the skills required, the qualifications you prefer, a brief description of your company and what you’re looking for.

Then reach for the bag of clichés. Why not? It wouldn’t be a job ad without them. After all, you’ve got a position to fill and this is how it’s done. It’s what you do.

The job market today, however, is a job-seeker’s playground. Which means you may have to rethink how you craft your ad. Jobs now are plentiful. The unemployment rate is low and many job-seekers can be choosy. If the job you’re dangling out there is what they’re looking for, the words you pack around the ad could be the repellent. They’ll go somewhere else.

Here is a list of words and phrases that all too often are stuffed into the job ad for no other reason then, well, it wouldn’t be a job ad without them. Maybe it’s time to retire these terms, in the name of making the job sound a little more desirable and a little less trite:

  1. Hit the ground running: Sounds like you’re looking for someone from the 82nd Airborne. Unless you’re in the business of conducting parachute assault operations, you should probably skip this cliché. It leaves the job-seeker thinking that not only is there no training for the job, but you’re going to forgo any orientation period as well.
  2. Fast-paced environment: If you’re not the Washington Capitals looking to beef up its roster, then leave this phony description of your workplace out. Seriously, how fast are the employees moving around those cubicles? This throw-away term is often tossed in solely to keep the abject lazy from applying. But it smacks of a place that overworks its employees sheerly out of inefficiency born out of time-management oversights. Potential applicants will picture a place in an unnecessary dither.
  3. Seeking a self-starter: Really? You mean you were hoping to land a new employee you don’t have to kick in the pants at 9:05 each morning? Workers don’t come to work, plop in a chair, stare off into the middle distance and wait for you to say, “Ok, start.” Including “self-starter” as a desired trait is the lowest bar. Scrap it.
  4. We’re looking for a dynamic individual: Oh, you are, huh? With or without the cape? Apparently when you ask for a dynamic person you really don’t know what you want, because that broad term covers just about every virtuous attribute you can find in a person outside of Krypton. The funny thing is, everyone sees themselves as a dynamo. The vagueness works both ways.
  5. Ninja, Sherpa, guru, rock star, wizard, Jedi, etc.: I don’t know about you, but I always wanted to be a payroll ninja. Whatever that is. It seems that trotting out these derring-do titles is a surefire way of landing only the best. Why settle for an experienced copy writer, when you can have copy writing guru instead? You can envision a hesitant job-seeker, thinking to herself, almost philosophically: “I’m good at sales, but am I a sales Jedi?” Put these tired terms to rest.
  6. We work hard, and play hard: Here’s what I see: Lumberjacks in thick trees, chopping, sawing and sweating by day, then when daylight fades … whoa! They’re laughing, joking and growing boisterous around a campfire, while draining bottles of Tin Cup Whisky. In the corporate world, it’s a little more subdued, but it’s a culture statement when you get right down to it: “We’re cliquey and we head out to Happy Hour after work.” Be mindful that this concept does not appeal to everyone.
  7. Detail-oriented: So, you don’t want people to make mistakes because your company deals in a lot of details? Well, what employer doesn’t have details? Hey, people are people and they’re going to make mistakes in details as well as big picture stuff. This line is telling folks to keep their work under a microscope, because, we got you under one, too. There’s no need to advertise for this kind of quality, because practically no one will think that they’re anything but mindful of the minutiae.
  8. Must be a team player: Wanted: Toll-collector in a busy highway toll booth. Must be a team player. Wait. What? You mean I’ll have co-workers in the booth? Generally, people realize they’ll need to work in harmony with others when they’re going for a job where other people work. This cheap phrase will hardly keep an introvert from applying.
  9. Balance/juggle/multitask: Ouch!/Ouch!/and Ouch! You’re pretty clear on this one. “We’re going pile on the work (early and often), so be prepared to handle anything we toss your way, whether the job description covered it or not.” Sounds like there’s burnout ahead. Job applicants realize they’ll have a couple of things going on at the same time now and then, so there’s really no need to add this. These are just hollow warning words.
  10. Competitive salary: Translation: We researched the industry average pay for this job, factored in the cost of living in the region and … if you want a hefty salary, you’ve come to the wrong place.