Stop writing these 5 phrases in your job ad
What message are your job ads really sending to candidates? Some common expressions and buzz terms may be misinterpreted as red flags, so it pays to mind your language.

Job ads that paint a clear picture are likely to attract more candidates – especially in the current market where candidates may be more discerning about their next opportunity.

Here are five common phrases you may want to avoid or at least think twice about.

  1. ‘No two days are the same’
    After the past two years of uncertainty, candidates like to know what they can expect from a role, so it’s best to avoid this buzz phrase in your job ads.

    “’No two days are the same’ may be interpreted that each day is hectic with new issues and problems to counteract,” says Kevin Alexander, Director (Operations Asia Pacific) at Serco.

    If you want to highlight the variety candidates can expect from a role, Alexander suggests choosing a different phrase.

    “You can reframe this as ‘an exciting and rewarding opportunity’,” he says. “Rephrasing key information to be more general and positive is often the best way forward in your job ads.”
  2. ‘Work hard, play hard’
    Catherine Kennedy, Managing Director New South Wales of recruitment firm people2people, says this expression is still commonly used, particularly in job ads for sales roles.

    “It sounds like an expression from Wall Street in the 1980s and doesn’t speak to today’s values of work-life balance,” she says.

    “When candidates read ‘play hard’ they may think that they are expected to stay late on Friday nights drinking and socialising with colleagues, when in fact a lot of people want to go to work, do a good job and then spend time with their family and friends.”

    To communicate a social culture, Kennedy recommends highlighting specific social opportunities in job ads.

    “For example, you may want to include that you have a social club,” she says. “This tells candidates that they have options and choices about the social aspects of work.”
  3. ‘Wear many hats’
    Another popular cliché in job ads, ‘wear many hats’ may suggest a vague job description.

    “Candidates may think that they’ll be expected to pick up the dry cleaning as well as fulfill the requirements of their job,” says Kennedy. “It can suggest that a business is under-resourced and that candidates are expected to do a bit of everything.”

    If you want to highlight the variety that candidates will experience in their role, Kennedy suggests listing a range of responsibilities.

    “You could write that you are looking for people who are proactive, but be specific about the core responsibilities of the role.”
  4. ‘High-performance culture’
    You may think that this phrase suggests a culture of success, but Kennedy says it’s open to misinterpretation.

    “Some will be attracted to the idea of working with a successful team, but others might read this phrase and think that they’d have to work around the clock to meet the demands of the job,” she says. It’s important to carefully consider the image you’re projecting with this phrase.

    Instead of ‘high-performance culture’, Kennedy recommends being specific. “Things like ‘we provide the support you need to meet your goals’ or ‘you’ll be empowered to achieve your best’ will appeal to a wider audience.”
  5. ‘Highly committed person’
    This phrase may suggest that employee retention is a problem in your business. Alexander says candidates may also equate ‘committed’ with ‘overworked’.

    “This phrase could be interpreted as requiring employees to go above and beyond on an ongoing basis,” he says.

    Alexander recommends rephrasing the expression to highlight an opportunity for candidates. “It would be much clearer to say that you are seeking an individual who is looking to grow with the business’,” he says.

Job ads are vital steps in the recruitment process. Candidates are more likely to click the apply button on those that paint a clear picture of a role and a workplace culture. So, avoid cliches and buzz phrases and let candidates know exactly what’s in it for them.

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