When people are looking for a new job, the first way they find potential roles is usually through a job advert. People scan job boards to find potential jobs, searching for the right opportunities. They are looking for the right role, the right salary and the right culture that compels them to apply. It’s up to the employers to use their sales skills to appeal to candidates and engage them. As this is the case, why do so many job adverts contain meaningless words?
Here’s some examples:
“excellent verbal and written communications skills”
“Individual who can work alone and is also a team player”
What do those types of words actually mean? How are employers hoping to engage candidates with those words? Is it just the case that employers are copying and pasting from previous job adverts to create new adverts, which then fail to connect with job seekers, as they are repeated in so many job adverts?
Looking at the words
How many job postings require “excellent verbal and written communications skills”?
Pretty much all of them right? But how many people read that and then think that rules them out of applying for a job? If the job requires “excellent verbal and written communications skills”, they might be concerned their communications skills are not good enough due to a disability? Or they are put off by feeling like they don’t have the right level of communication skills?
You are going to potentially lose people from the following disability categories; hearing loss, stuttering, neurodiverse conditions, and anxiety. These groups represent about 12% of the overall population. So 1 in every 8 potential candidates may think twice about applying.
Communications comes in a wide variety of forms, for both the person communicating and the person receiving the communication. It is far more valuable for a business to say clearly what communication skills they are looking for. For example, you might be looking for someone who can write presentations, or someone who can write blogs. If what you’re looking for is someone who can communicate clearly by email, then say that, so people know.
That’s just one example, there are so many generic words like that used in job adverts without any thought and care about what employers are really looking for in candidates.
Words about benefits
There’s more. How many times have you seen a job advert stating ‘competitive salary’ with no further detail. What does that mean? How can someone assess whether to spend time applying for a job if they don’t know what the job will pay them. Not adding a salary cuts down the number of people who will apply for a job. We think it should be mandatory to state a salary on job adverts. That’s why we launched our #SayThePay campaign. You can sign our petition here.
‘Enhanced maternity benefits’ is another one. What does that mean? Maternity benefits which comply with the law are pretty weak in the UK, so if you have enhanced maternity benefits, how do people find out what they are? They probably don’t want to ask about this in a first interview, but it’s pretty important information.
When employers describe benefits for potential employees, how much thought is given to what candidates really want to know, and how best to describe it to them?
Words about roles, skills and tasks
We also see many job adverts which confuse what the role is about, what the skills are, that are required and what the tasks are, that are required of the role. Confusion around these things puts people off applying for jobs, as they don’t know if they are the right candidate for the role. Job adverts should take the time to explain what the role is about, and how it fits with the organisation’s purpose. Then talk about the tasks that the role will be fulfilling, and the skills you are looking for to do that. It requires breaking those things down into simple words and explanations to engage candidates.
Some of the worst job adverts I have seen use vague words, jargon, acronyms and complicated text. Adverts like that will put people off applying. Some state a long list of tasks the role involves, a huge list of skills, and then very little about the benefits for the employee.