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

Kat Kibben View All →

Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster,, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

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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