Words and Phrases to Avoid in Job Descriptions

As a startup, you have many competing priorities, and resources are usually scarce to address all challenges in the best possible way. To succeed, you need to focus on product development, sales and other things that may be insignificant but require your attention for the smooth running of the business.

If you run a services business, the priority will always shift between business development and excellent service delivery. And, after some time, hiring talent becomes the top priority to meet demand and scale up the business.

While hiring new people, organizations usually have a sense of urgency. Therefore, many times, writing a compelling job description takes a back seat in the quest to find a large pool of candidates quickly. However, a generic job description attracts a lot of irrelevant candidates. Therefore, it is important to spend some time to write a specific job description instead of copying it from the Internet or using template descriptions provided by job portals.

Sometimes, recruiters use terms that are hardly related to the job and usually don’t serve a purpose. In fact, a few words are discriminatory, and gender biased and must be avoided.

Here are four categories of words that you should avoid:

Avoid Unwelcoming Words

To make the job advertisements exciting, recruiters use words such as “rock star,” “guru,” “ninja,” “dominant,” etc. These words look good in blogs to describe great personalities or captivate an audience. However, using these words in job descriptions sends wrong signals. It can turn off some candidates, especially women.

The company may not intend to hire a male candidate by putting terms like rock star or guru in the job description. It may, however, make women think twice before applying for the position. Use alternative words that convey the same message but in a neutral manner. For example, using skilled for ninja, virtuoso for rock star, and visionary for guru will enhance the ad’s appeal.

Avoid Jargon

When a candidate says that they are “result-driven” and have “conceptualized” and “implemented” several “successful” marketing campaigns,” you know that it means nothing for you. The same goes for candidates.

When they see an ad that says, “We are looking for result-driven professionals who can conceptualize and implement performance-based marketing campaigns,” all candidates consider themselves suitable for the position. You may get responses from the people who have never run a marketing campaign. So, avoid jargon or buzzwords in job advertisements. It serves no purpose and wastes precious ad space that could have been used to filter out irrelevant candidates.

Avoid Clichés

Clichés have almost become meaningless words. In the era of the Internet, when a candidate has to go through hundreds of advertisements on a portal to find the relevant job posting or a recruiter has to go through countless resumes to find a suitable candidate, clichés are a major turn off for everyone.

They not only irritate readers but also stop them from reading relevant details in job postings. Job seekers are aware that every job requires multi-tasking, detail-oriented and self-motivated individuals to get things done. So, by writing these words, you are indicating the obvious. Instead of these words, use words that precisely describe facts by which a candidate can get deep insights of the job. It will also make your job posting stand out from the crowd.

Asking Confidential Information

This is more of information than mere words. Many job advertisements ask interested candidates to send a message with some information that includes experience, skills, current salary, etc.

While experience and expertise are relevant to the job, asking for a current salary, expected salary or other confidential information might alienate some candidates. These details can be discussed after the first round of shortlisting or at the time of the interview. Avoid asking any sensitive questions in the very first email if you are looking for true high performers.


Several companies have long ignored the attention required on job descriptions. Have a quick look on ads of any job portal, and you will find job listings for different positions or from multiple organizations look quite similar. Qualified candidates avoid such listings as they don’t want to waste their time on something that is very generic.

At the same time, entry-level candidates or desperate job seekers tend to apply everything they see on the portal. Thus, you may end up receiving lots of irrelevant applications. A small amount of time at the beginning can save a lot of hassle and time at a later stage of hiring. So, writing objective job descriptions must be on your priority list when you decide to hire new talent for your organization.

Anthony Bergs is a project manager at Writers Per Hour. He always keeps an eye on the marketing sector to implement the best innovations into the strategies that he builds. He’s always open for new connections and partnerships. Feel free to contact him on G+ and FB.

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