Redline: Keywords To Ban From Job Ads

There are certain words that make people cringe. While I could dive into a whole list or tell you a story about a time I was particularly uncomfortable after a vocabulary choice, I want you to keep reading so I’ll skip the ick fest. We all have a word.

I’m sorry I made you think of it.

But when it comes to job descriptions, there’s a particular set of words that make candidates and recruiting pros alike wince. They’re cliches, abused buzzwords and usually – simply untrue. They’re the ultimate indicator of if people are just calling it in or they really care from the candidate experience POV.

The fundamental problem with these words is that they generically describe the job and day-in-the-life experience, ignoring the personal motivations and inspiration of the right candidates. They force these buzzwords into job titles and descriptions just to cram in more words instead of connecting with a human. Worse? Most of the time they use these phrases simply because someone forgot to proofread the job description they’re recycling from several years ago.

While there’s a lot of science behind how a great job description is crafted (happy to help if you need job description support), the vocabulary that stings is the same. So, I polled some friends and here’s what they came up with.

The words that should be banned from job ads, as voted on in the Employer Brand Forum are…

Words that should be banned from job ads and descriptions.

Based on the popularity of this post, we created a second image to include all of the words we couldn’t fit into the first one.

Banned From Job Ads

Job Postings recruiting Workplace Trends

Katrina Kibben View All →

Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.

Katrina has written for,, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.

2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Let’s just ban all the words. Maybe we can just mind-meld with candidates! OK, but seriously, what’s replaces “join our team”? Work for us sucks, we’re hiring sucks, what else? #notfeelingcreativeonMonday

    • What about “Work with us” or “let’s create together” – it would depend on the role just how I would tailor it.

      You have to admit, join our team is just lame.

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