Stop Using ‘Exciting,’ ‘Growth,’ and ‘Motivated’ in Job Ads

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Apr 7, 2021

Why would a great candidate want to work at your company? I’m not talking about someone with no other prospects and who’s willing to work anywhere as long as there’s a steady paycheck. 

Rather, why would a high performer who’s currently employed elsewhere want to work for you? Is it because your company offers an exciting opportunity, with professional growth and a culture filled with highly motivated employees?

If that sounds like a pitch from one of your company’s job ads, I’ve got bad news: That messaging is not going to attract great candidates.

Any job ad that uses the words “exciting,” “growth,” and “motivated” will sound like an insincere imitation of every other company currently placing job ads.

For example, I recently did a quick search on ZipRecruiter for job ads using the phrase “professional growth” and found more than 107,000 job ads. I ran the same search on Indeed and found more than 110,000 jobs. 

The phrase “highly motivated” returned about 119,000 jobs, while searching for the word “exciting” delivered 300,000-plus jobs, and “exciting opportunity” returned more than 49,000.

Now, perhaps your company really does offer professional growth and an exciting opportunity. But how could we expect any candidate to discern that when literally hundreds of thousands of other employers are using the same exact language in their recruiting pitches? It’s hard to imagine a competent marketing department deciding that they’re going to use the same verbiage as their competitors without otherwise differentiating their product.

What makes this so troubling is that your organization has distinguishing characteristics that differentiate your workplace; they just need to be clearly defined.

A Generic Problem

In the study “Why New Hires Fail,” we discovered that only 20% of companies have thoroughly defined the attitudes and characteristics that separate their culture from other organizations. 

Far too many organizations think that they should hire for the same types of people that work at Google or Apple or wherever. The problem with that approach is twofold. First, Google and Apple, while both successful organizations, have very different cultures. And second, your organization is (presumably) not Google or Apple.

There are thousands of incredibly successful organizations out there, and the attitudinal characteristics that distinguish their high performers differ wildly.

Not only do we need to define those characteristics, we must also ensure they’re accurately represented in our recruiting messages. In the study mentioned above, we learned that only 9% of HR executives think their recruiting process very frequently represents their corporate brand. Meanwhile, 25% say that their recruiting process rarely or very rarely represents their corporate brand.

Searching for Distinction

Fortunately, this is an eminently fixable problem. First, go through your job ads and delete any instances of the words “exciting,” “growth,” and “motivated.” It’s probable that you’ll find at least a few phrases, like “this is an exciting new project,” “we are looking for a highly motivated individual,” or “this is a career opportunity with great potential for growth.”

Second, go on all the major job sites, search for your competitors’ ads, paste the copy into a document, and then highlight the most commonly used phrases. Those highlights represent another compilation of words and phrases that you should eliminate from your job ads. 

In other words, you can’t expect to attract better candidates than your competitors when your job ads sound just like theirs.  

The purpose of your ad is to attract people to the unique aspects of your organization; you really do not want to sound like every other company in your industry. This is especially important if you’re trying to attract great candidates. 

Oftentimes, those candidates are likely to have jobs currently, and they’re not going to apply somewhere else that sounds generic. An employed high performer will only leave when there’s a unique opportunity that fulfills a need not being met at their current job. It’s the task of your job ad to vividly describe that unique opportunity. And the fastest way to get started is simply to strip away all the verbiage that makes your company sound like a copy of every other company.

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