10 Phrases you use in your job description that are putting job hunters off

Young job hunter reading a job description and making notes on jargon phrases with pen and paper

The words and phrases you use in your job description are make or break

Job hunting is all about making a good impression. Applicants these days don’t just apply for every job they see – they assess job descriptions with care before they hit the apply button.

Well, the good ones do. I’m sure lots of people still only read the job title and hit apply, but those aren’t the candidates you want.

So the words and phrases that you use in your job description are intrinsically linked to your success.

Use the right words, attract your ideal candidate. Use jargon and confusing language and you’ll put them off before they hit the apply button.

The words and phrases you use in your job description are powerful

Sloppy language can:

  • Convey the wrong message about your company and the role
  • Discourage perfect candidates from applying
  • Make a bad first impression
  • Confuse or even annoy candidates

But great language can:

  • Convey professionalism and enthusiasm
  • Encourage and excite job hunters
  • Help candidates understand the role and their suitability
  • Make a great first impression

Jargon-dense job descriptions are especially off putting for junior job hunters. This is because they’re more likely to be unfamiliar with the buzzwords you use every day.

In fact, research has shown that 66% of young job hunters find jargon-laden adverts hard to understand. When they don’t understand a job advert, they’re far less likely to apply for it.

You can’t afford to put off 66% of your prospective applicants.

Of all industries, IT and tech are the most likely to use jargon in job adverts. This is unsurprising as the industry tends to deal with complex technologies, but it really shouldn’t be the case!

Job hunter and recruiter reviewing application

10 Phrases to avoid in your job description and what to replace them with

Research has found 38% of job adverts contain jargon.

Jargon terms aren’t limited to industry-specific fodder, they’re also fairly meaningless words used to convey a soft-skill or idea. For example, ‘dynamic’.

People often use these words instead of drilling into specifics.

We’re all guilty of using at least one of these!

1 – Team player

The most common jargon used across all industries is ‘team player’.

A team player is someone that works willingly and well within team. It’s the opposite of individualism, which is obviously where you work better on your own.

Instead of saying that you’re looking for a team player, you could describe exactly what you need. For example:

“We’re looking for a collaborative person that can work well with a team, contributing ideas and helping colleagues when they can.”

2 – Dynamic

If you use ‘dynamic’ in your job advert, it might be best to step back and consider what you really mean.

‘Dynamic’ is often used in place of words like ambitious, energetic and enthusiastic. If you use this word you might be looking for a high-energy employee that can adapt well to change.

So consider spelling this out! For example:

“We’re looking for an ambitious and adaptable hire that can bring a lot of energy to the team. You’ll be brimming with ideas and enthusiasm.”

3 – Self-starter

When I was hunting for a job a year or so ago, I had to Google what ‘self-starter’ meant. And in the process of Googling it, I lost the job I was interested in and moved on.

Self-starters are full of ideas and proactivity. They don’t stick to the status quo, they ask how things can improve and then try to make that happen.

Instead of saying ‘self-starter’, you could say:

“We’re looking for someone that is always thinking creatively. We want you to come up with ideas and put plans into action.”

4 – Empower

If your new hire will be helping other team members, you might want to use the word ’empower’. But is this easy to understand?

Empowering is all about giving someone else the ability to do something.

So instead of using ’empower’, you could use:

“Gather and organise the vital data that lets the sales team make decisions, set targets and bring in leads.”

5 – Proactive

When you put a word like ‘proactive’ in the must-haves of your job advert, you don’t communicate much.

Anyone can say that they’re proactive, but when you’d describe the specifics you’ll have much more success.

Proactivity is all about forethought, planning and action. So you could say:

“We’re looking for an organised candidate that can plan ahead. You’ll need the enthusiasm to make plans happen and get things done ahead of time.”

Young business owner checking the phrases in her job description for jargon.

6 – Leverage

‘Leverage’ is one of those words that’s used all over business, but what does it really mean?

When you leverage something, you use it. It’s that simple.

But when you write ‘leverage’ you create unnecessary ambiguity. So consider saying:

“Use your excellent organisation skills to manage the company meeting calendars.”

7 – Window of opportunity

‘Window of opportunity’ is a lyrical way to explain that candidates can only apply to your role for a limited time. So why explain it this way?

Instead say something like:

“We’re closing applications on 10/06, so apply now to have a shot at your dream job!”

8 – Proven track record

Are you looking for someone with solid experience already under their belt?

Why don’t you just come out and say it then! We see people ask for a ‘proven track record’ all the time, especially when it comes to sales. But it can be a little confusing for juniors.

The idea of a proven record of experience could be intimidating for anyone unsure of the true meaning of the phrase, so instead word it like:

“We’re looking for a sales professional with experience bringing in new leads and closing deals. You’ll be an expert relationship-builder and great at listening to clients.”

9 – Core competency

What does ‘core competency’ mean? In a job description it’s used to describe the basic knowledge and skills a candidate needs to have to do well.

But it’s a wordy and hard to read way of explaining it! Instead of wording it like this, consider writing:

“We’re looking for applicants with basic understanding of and skills in…”

10 – Take it to the next level

Now this one might be a little controversial. Personally, I don’t think this phrase is tricky to understand but it could cause some confusion for candidates with difficultly comprehending the written word.

So instead of using ‘take it to the next level’, you could say:

“We’re looking for a candidate to work on and improve our hiring process.”

It’s vital that we use the simplest language and phrases when writing a job description. If we make a mistake, we could put off perfectly qualified applicants and create a lot of confusion. Clear writing is always best.

If you need any extra help crafting a great job description and advertising your vacancy, find out how DigitalGrads can help you here!

About post author

Hi, I'm Daisy. I'm using my passion for writing to work with DigitalGrads on their content and social media campaigns.
Posted in Hiring Graduates