Buzzwords and Jargon: The Demise of Job Descriptions

By Adam Robinson,
June 25, 2013

Self-starter. Heavy lifting. Extensive experience.

Let’s face it, these terms are not helping you attract the right candidates. Why? For one, job seekers see them over and over again. By the time they come across the fourth posting offering a “competitive salary,” the phrase has lost it’s appeal and is teetering between annoying and irritating. More over, the use of buzzwords and jargon tends to make the company look lazy. Yes, it’s the hiring manager using these terms, but it’s a poor reflection on the company if they won’t put forth the effort to be creative.

Earlier this year The Onion published an article regarding the inclusion of such clichŽ phrases in job descriptions. Mocking job requirements like “dynamic self-starter” and “high-energy A player,” the article features a job-seeker questioning whether he is is dynamic enough to be considered for the position. The end result: He decides not to apply. If only all job-seekers were like this fictional one.

Think about it this way: If you were looking for a new job, would you opt not to apply because you didn’t see yourself as a “blue sky thinker?” Probably not. Chances are you would wonder what a “blue sky thinker” is, and proceed to apply anyway hoping the company actually does offer a competitive salary. 

Writing a good job description takes time. But it’s the investment of time that pays off when a strong flow of qualified candidates comes through after seeing the job description. Rather than looking to other job descriptions for inspiration and inevitably falling into the trap of buzzwords and jargon, take a few minutes to reflect on the attributes of your current employees. What comes to mind? Creative, dedicated? By looking at what makes your current team successful, verbalizing key characteristics within the job description becomes much easier. Plus you’re much less likely to include phrases like “industry penetration” and “sales ninja.” 

So what’s the take away? Stop using buzzwords and jargon in your job description if you want to attract qualified candidates. 

When it does come time to interview, make sure you’re making the best hiring decision by using validated interview scorecards. 

About the Author

Adam co-founded Hireology with the mission to help growing companies make better hiring decisions through data and better technology. Adam is passionate about entrepreneurship, donating time to a number of organizations that support the entrepreneurial cause. Adam completed his undergraduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

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