HR Industry, Rants and Raves

Death to the Rock Star

silhouette photo of man holding guitar

Ninja. Guru. Jedi. The list goes on. Any single one of these words can be enough to make a job seeker recoil when skimming through the Want Ads:

“Seeking a Rock Star ready to absolutely #crushit….”

Translation:Hey! We’re trying really hard to look fun before you realize this place is going to eat your soul!—also when Jan leaves in a few months we’re not going to backfill, but hey! You’re a Rock Star! You’ll figure it out!”

I can only assume that companies believe they’re being hip or edgy when peppering their job postings with these empty-calorie buzzwords, but in reality the final result ends up looking more like a half-assed recruiting mad-lib.  These companies appear to not only be fixated on looking trendy—they’re apparently not even very good at it: according to a 2017 Workopolis survey, candidates are more likely to view and apply to postings with standard titles versus those with a more “creative” flair.

Not only is this phraseology painfully lame, it also has the potential to create an unconscious bias that deters minority, female, and older applicants from applying. This is especially damning for the Business and STEM sectors, which already struggle with attracting diverse talent.

Ok, so we killed the Rock Star…what now?

  • Nobody can apply to your jobs if they can’t actually find them. Use industry standard titles in your ads
  • Use gender, age, and other neutral language in postings to avoid creating an unconscious bias against underrepresented groups
  •  Focus on messaging that makes the responsibilities of the role clear—not by throwing out phrases that anyone with a hipster thesaurus can coin
  • Still not sure if you’re sounding like a square? Have somebody in a similar position take a once-over of your ad to gauge its appeal

What are some of the worst job ad faux paus you’ve come across? Share in the comments below!



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