Buzzwords in Job Postings: Finding the Perfect Balance

The other day I was watching Brian Collins – the Chief Creative Officer of COLLINS – speak for an Adobe Max Conference Session on Branding and Creativity. I went on LinkedIn to see more of Collins’ work, and I was immediately hit with flashbacks from when I was looking for a job and reading through hundreds of job postings on the platform. *Shivers*

In the digital age, it has become much easier for job seekers to go through more job postings in a shorter amount of time. In fact, LinkedIn is found to be the most-used channel for recruitment efforts. People often focus on how competitive it is to get a job, but, forgets that it is also equally competitive for employers to hire a good employee. How can HR managers help their company gain an advantage from the first step of recruiting – posting the job ad?

Buzzword Overload

Collins pointed out two interesting things that have been happening in the business world: over usage of buzzwords and the hyper-fixation on minimalism. These two traits can also be found in job postings. Companies these days, in trying to sound modern, tend to try to throw in as many buzzwords as possible into their job postings. Some examples include:

  • Guru
  • Team Player
  • Communication Skills
  • Multi-tasker
  • Ninja
  • Flexible Hours
  • Detail-oriented
  • Interpersonal skills

… and the list goes on.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with these keywords in itself or what they could be conveying. However, these words are so overused in job postings, they have often lost meaning to job seekers. In a block of text, it’s easy to only recognize the buzzwords, but this does not mean the job seeker is registering what the block of text is really talking about.

What is Your Company Really About?

Unless the job seeker already thought about working specifically for your company, using the same buzzwords as every other posting will unlikely help your posting leave a lasting impression. So how can recruiters relay their message clearly while avoiding clichés?

  • Avoid funky words that do not serve any purpose other than to sound “fun”.
  • Instead of vague phrases, tailor the points to your job specifically.
  • Compare the buzzwords you’ve used and get rid of the repetitive ones.
  • Gauge what kind of person you really need for the position and what characteristics are thus essential – instead of throwing in all keywords that sound good.

You might feel inclined to include certain phrases because it seems like a “must-have” in job postings, but remember that the purpose of this job posting is to find someone who is fit for the position you’ve listed specifically, not to check off a list of “good words to put into a job posting”. Your job posting is an opportunity for you to let job seekers know what kind of company you are, what kind of culture you have, and what type of person you are looking for.

Adequate Minimalism

Collins discussed that in UI/UX and graphic design, he disagrees with the trend to always opt for extremely minimalistic designs. However, for job postings, it is not a terrible idea to try to keep it minimalistic for a few reasons.

  • If your job posting is too long, nobody is going to read through the whole thing.
  • Complicated job postings might intimidate potential applicants.
  • Many applicants, especially women, do not apply for a job unless they feel 100% qualified.

In our blog post about problems with traditional job ads, we wrote more in-depth about the last point. To recap, avoid extremely long job postings and be clear about your expectations. Highlight what skills would be useful for the role, rather than labeling them as required. Remember, training is always possible. Don’t risk losing out on a good candidate because of scary long job postings!

It is understandable that with a heavy workload, recruiters don’t want to spend as much time agonizing over job postings. However, using too many buzzwords in a job ad could actually make your job posting less effective. A little extra sincerity put into writing your job posting to reflect your company’s character can go a long way to attract more talent for your team!