Decoding Job Postings: What Your Job Postings Say About Your Business

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, a seismic shift has occurred in the job market, as employees around the world have raised their voices, clamoring for more than just a paycheck. This resounding chorus of dissatisfaction has given rise to two striking phenomena: “The Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting.” The once silent discontent has reached a crescendo, demanding change and pushing companies to reevaluate their approach to talent acquisition and retention.

Interestingly, amidst this evolving landscape, a new trend has emerged. Young professionals, often dubbed the “millennial” and “Gen Z” generations, are redefining what they prioritize in their professional lives. No longer solely motivated by the allure of high salaries and prestigious titles, they seek something more profound—a sense of control over their time, autonomy in their work, and a greater alignment between their personal values and their employer’s mission.

As hiring professionals, it is our responsibility to navigate these uncharted waters with finesse, understanding the profound impact that job postings can have on attracting top talent. Job descriptions have transcended their traditional role as mere informational tools; they have become powerful glimpses into an organization’s culture, values, and work environment. In this era of transparency and heightened employee expectations, job seekers meticulously scrutinize each word, sentence, and phrase, searching for clues that can either compel them to apply or send them running in the opposite direction.

To thrive in this new era of talent acquisition, we must recognize the pitfalls that lie in crafting job descriptions and avoid inadvertently repelling the very candidates we hope to attract. It is not enough to merely state the requirements and responsibilities of a position; we must understand the underlying messages and impressions that our words convey. Every phrase carries weight, every choice of vocabulary shapes perceptions, and every omission can speak volumes.

In this blog, we will delve into the phrases and expressions that have become red flags for job seekers, capable of sending potential applicants fleeing from our doors. We will explore the pitfalls of outdated terminology, the unintentional messages they convey, and the need for a more nuanced approach to capturing the attention and interest of the talent we seek. Together, we will unravel the mysteries of effective job postings that resonate with candidates and align with the evolving expectations of a new generation of professionals.

Phrases Can Scare Away Job Applicants

In today’s competitive job market, attracting and retaining top talent is a paramount concern for companies across industries. Job seekers are no longer content with simply securing a paycheck; they crave meaningful work experiences that align with their values and offer a healthy work-life balance. Job descriptions play a crucial role in shaping the perception of our organizations while capturing the attention and interest of potential candidates.

However, crafting job postings that strike the right balance between enticing and informative is no easy task. Job seekers have become more discerning than ever before, meticulously examining every word and phrase in search of red flags that signal potential pitfalls in the work environment. It is imperative that we navigate this challenge with finesse, understanding the impact that certain phrases can have on deterring highly qualified applicants.

A recent survey conducted by payroll processor Paychex Inc. delved into the preferences of U.S. adults who actively sought new job opportunities within the past year. The survey sought to identify phrases that had the potential to dissuade job seekers from applying. One common red flag in this survey is the use of phrases that hint at potential overwork. In a world where burnout is a growing concern, job seekers are increasingly cautious about organizations that may demand excessive time and energy. While it is important to create an exciting and vibrant work environment, it is equally vital to assure candidates that their well-being and work-life balance will be respected.

Notably, the findings revealed several phrases that topped the list of turn-offs for prospective candidates. These phrases included “Like a family,” “Self-starter,” “Willing to wear many hats,” “Must handle stress well,” and “Fast-paced.” The survey shed light on the evolving expectations of job seekers and emphasized the importance of carefully selecting language that resonates positively with prospective candidates.

Let us embark on this journey of discovery, exploring what not to say in job descriptions, and learning how to create engaging and compelling narratives that entice the best and brightest to join our ranks. Together, we can build organizations that cultivate meaningful work experiences and foster the growth and success of both employees and the company as a whole.

1. “Like a family”

In recent years, the phrase “like a family” has become increasingly prevalent in job postings, with its usage quadrupling according to data from While the intention behind this phrase may be to convey a sense of camaraderie and support within the organization, its implications can be far more nuanced and potentially off-putting to job seekers. In this blog, we will explore the hidden dangers associated with using the “like a family” analogy in job descriptions, shedding light on how it can be misinterpreted and inadvertently deter top talent from applying.

At first glance, describing a company as “like a family” may seem endearing and inviting. However, upon closer examination, this phrase can be read as a code for potential workplace issues that job seekers are keen to avoid. Some individuals argue that likening a workplace to a family can imply a tolerance for verbal abuse or a lack of clear boundaries within the organization. Job seekers may be wary of environments where the lines between personal and professional life become blurred, potentially infringing upon their personal well-being and work-life balance.

Additionally, job postings that boast about perks such as free meals and on-site entertainment alongside the “like a family” phrase can inadvertently signal that employees are expected to go above and beyond their regular working hours. This can create an atmosphere where employees feel compelled to stay late, sacrificing their personal time for the sake of the “family.” Such implications can dissuade candidates from seeking a healthy work-life integration and may push them to pursue opportunities where their personal lives are respected.

While families can be sources of love, support, and unity, they can also be riddled with dysfunctionality and blurred boundaries. This parallel can raise concerns among job seekers, especially those who value clear roles, expectations, and a healthy separation between their personal and professional lives. The “like a family” analogy may inadvertently imply a lack of structure, undefined responsibilities, and the potential for a challenging work environment.

Instead, consider highlighting aspects of your company culture that foster collaboration, support, and inclusivity without suggesting an all-encompassing family dynamic. Emphasize the importance of a healthy work-life balance, well-defined boundaries, and professional growth opportunities to demonstrate that your organization values the well-being and individuality of its employees.

2. “Self-starter”

In today’s dynamic job market, the term “self-starter” has become a common buzzword in job postings, seemingly praising individuals who take initiative and require minimal direction. While the intention behind highlighting a candidate’s self-starting abilities may be to attract proactive and motivated individuals, it can inadvertently send the message that the organization lacks proper guidance and support systems. Job seekers might interpret this as an indication that they will be left to figure things out on their own without the necessary resources and guidance to succeed.

Moreover, the term “self-starter” may unintentionally exclude individuals who thrive in collaborative environments or those who prefer a structured and well-defined role. By solely emphasizing the need for self-motivation, you might inadvertently discourage potential candidates who excel in team settings or require clear direction and feedback to perform at their best.

To create more inclusive job postings, it is important to strike a balance between acknowledging the value of self-motivation and highlighting the organization’s commitment to support and mentorship. Instead of solely focusing on self-starting abilities, employers can emphasize qualities such as initiative, proactivity, and the ability to work independently within a collaborative and supportive framework. By emphasizing the availability of resources, mentorship programs, and opportunities for professional development can help candidates understand that while self-motivation is valued, they will also receive the necessary guidance and support to thrive within the organization.

3. “Willing to wear many hats”

The phrase “willing to wear many hats” has become a popular descriptor, often used to convey the expectation of versatility and adaptability in potential candidates. On the surface, “willing to wear many hats” may appear as a positive attribute, suggesting that candidates should be open to taking on diverse tasks and responsibilities within the organization. It implies a level of flexibility and a willingness to step outside one’s defined role. However, it is essential to examine the potential consequences of relying heavily on this phrase in job descriptions.

By emphasizing the need for candidates to wear many hats, there is a risk of creating unrealistic expectations and work overload. Job seekers may interpret this phrase as an indication that the organization lacks clear role definitions and may require employees to constantly juggle multiple responsibilities without proper support or resources. This can lead to burnout and a lack of work-life balance, deterring qualified candidates who prioritize structure and clarity in their professional lives.

Additionally, the phrase “willing to wear many hats” can unintentionally undervalue specialized skills and expertise. Candidates with deep knowledge and proficiency in a particular area may feel that their unique contributions are not adequately recognized or valued within an organization that heavily emphasizes generalist capabilities. This can result in talented individuals seeking opportunities elsewhere, where their specific expertise is valued and utilized to its fullest extent. Instead of solely focusing on the need to wear many hats, it is crucial to emphasize the value of both versatility and specialization within the organization. This can be achieved by clearly defining roles and responsibilities while also highlighting opportunities for growth, collaboration, and the utilization of specialized skills.

4. “Fast-paced” and “Must handle stress well”

In the realm of job postings, two phrases that often make an appearance are “fast-paced” and “must handle stress well.” While these phrases may be intended to portray an exciting and challenging work environment, it is crucial for hiring professionals to consider the deeper implications and potential drawbacks associated with their usage.

The phrase “fast-paced” can be interpreted as an indication of an energetic and dynamic workplace, where tasks and projects move swiftly. However, it is important to recognize that a relentless emphasis on speed can create a high-pressure environment that may lead to burnout and decreased employee well-being. Job seekers who prioritize work-life balance and a more measured pace may perceive a “fast-paced” environment as one that sacrifices their personal lives and mental well-being.

Similarly, the phrase “must handle stress well” implies that the job entails significant levels of pressure and demands resilience in the face of challenges. While resilience is undoubtedly a valuable quality, emphasizing stress handling as a prerequisite for a role can discourage candidates who prefer a supportive and balanced work environment. It may attract individuals who thrive under constant pressure, but it could also deter highly skilled candidates who seek a healthier work-life integration and prefer environments that prioritize employee well-being.

To create more appealing and inclusive job postings it is essential to provide a comprehensive overview of the work environment by acknowledging both the challenges and the support systems in place. Highlighting opportunities for growth, mentoring, and resources that enable employees to effectively manage their workload can demonstrate that the organization values the well-being and professional development of its team members. Emphasizing a supportive and collaborative work culture, where stress is managed through open communication and teamwork, can attract candidates who thrive in environments that prioritize both productivity and employee well-being. Instead of focusing on the pace and stress levels of the role, it is better to highlight the organization’s commitment to work-life balance, flexibility, and employee support programs. By promoting a more holistic view of the work environment, you can attract diverse candidates who value both professional growth and personal well-being.


Navigating these challenges requires a thoughtful and deliberate approach to job postings. As hiring professionals, we must carefully consider the language they use and the messages they convey. It is crucial to be honest and transparent about the demands of the role while simultaneously assuring candidates of the organization’s commitment to work-life balance, employee well-being, and a supportive work culture.

By striking the right balance, we can craft job descriptions that not only attract top talent but also serve as authentic reflections of our organizations through two distinct characteristics – honesty and transparency. Honesty is the foundation of effective job postings. Clearly articulating the demands and expectations of a role helps set realistic expectations for candidates, reducing the risk of mismatched hires. However, honesty should not overshadow the need to highlight the organization’s commitment to work-life balance, employee well-being, and a supportive work culture. On the other hand, transparency is key in assuring candidates that while the role may come with its challenges, the organization is dedicated to creating an environment where employees can thrive. By emphasizing initiatives such as flexible work arrangements, professional development opportunities, and employee support programs, we demonstrate our commitment to fostering a healthy work-life integration.

By weaving honesty and transparency into our job postings, we can create a compelling narrative that attracts not only qualified candidates but also individuals who align with our organizational values and aspirations. This approach builds trust from the very beginning, setting the stage for meaningful connections between candidates and our organizations. Furthermore, job seekers today are more discerning than ever. They actively seek out companies that prioritize work-life balance, mental well-being, and a supportive work culture. By openly addressing these aspects in our job descriptions, we not only attract talent but also differentiate ourselves as an employer of choice in a competitive market.

Ultimately, our goal is not just to fill positions but to attract individuals who will thrive and contribute to the growth and success of our organization. A thoughtful and deliberate approach to job postings is an ongoing process. It requires us to continuously evaluate our language, consider the potential impact of phrases that can deter candidates, and adapt our approach to meet the evolving needs and expectations of job seekers. Through this process, we have an opportunity to reshape the way we communicate our organization’s values, goals, and culture. By placing honesty and transparency at the forefront of our job postings, we create a solid foundation for building relationships with potential candidates. We inspire trust, set clear expectations, and invite individuals who are genuinely excited about the opportunities and challenges our organization offers. Together, let us seize the power of words and create job descriptions that resonate, inspire, and ignite the imaginations of talented individuals who will shape the future of our organization. Check out our services today to see how we can help.

Summer Safety Update

As we all know, the weather in Minnesota can be highly unpredictable, with the summertime being no exception. In the industrial space, one of the main concerns this time of year is employee heat-related safety. Heat stress is a genuine concern for workers and can cause severe illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke if not prevented. Due to the nature of this concern, you can download heat stress safety documents below to help inform employees of the potential risks associated with working in extreme temperatures.