Are your job ads bad for your brand image?

22.09.23 | By Kimberley Killender | opinion

Are your job ads bad for your brand image?

Do people want to be a 'Lightning Fast SEO Ninja', or do they just want a clear job description?

In a world where we scroll through dozens of job listings faster than we swipe on dating apps, the first impression a potential hire gets is often from a job title. For years, businesses have experimented with snazzy, attention-grabbing titles to lure in job hunters, but if you think your "Marketing Magician" or "Customer Service Gladiator" titles are hooking top talent, it's time to wake up and smell the flat white. 

There was a time when an edgy title could make a company stand out. In the mid-2010s, tech startups were throwing around bean bags, installing slides, and touting work-life “blend” like it was some magical formula for productivity. Sure, free food and "chill vibes" are cool, but not when they're bait to squeeze 60-hour weeks out of you.

Gen Z and their disillusioned Millennial counterparts now make up almost 70% of the workforce. They have spent their formative years navigating the complexities of a digital landscape, fake news, and volatile job markets, and have cultivated a sixth sense for spotting BS from a mile away. For these groups, over-dramatic, over-enthusiastic titles and job descriptions are red flags, not beacons of opportunity.

Your potential workforce is walking into the professional arena with a laser focus on meaningful work, equitable pay, and job security. A flashy title often signals the opposite: a facade for lower pay, high demands, and a potentially toxic culture. If the job involves search engine optimisation, "SEO Specialist" will do just fine, thank you very much. A title should clarify what a job entails, not obscure it.

Today's Gen Z talent are allergic to job titles like "Design Unicorn" or "Marketing Guru". Even Millennials, once enamoured with the 'hustle,' are also now disillusioned with these flashy but empty titles. What was once cool and edgy is now passé, like their beloved skinny jeans and side parts. Both generations are now favouring substance over style, ditching the allure of tricked-out job posts for more transparent, realistic roles.

It's not just the titles either—it’s also the way the roles are described. Using phrases like “rockstar needed to take us to new viral heights” or stating you want someone who "lives and breathes coding" subtly suggests that you’re looking for employees willing to trade their personal lives for the promise of endless snacks and maybe, just maybe, a ping pong table.

Here's our quick and dirty list of words to cut from your job posting vocabulary: 

  • Rockstar 

  • Guru

  • Ninja

  • Wizard

  • Magician

  • Unicorn

  • Game-changer

  • Jedi

  • Warrior

  • Whisperer

  • (Insert any other cringy, generic term)

  • Work hard, play hard 

  • Lives and breathes XYZ

  • Wears many hats

  • Ready to roll up your sleeves

  • Always plugged in

  • Ready to hit the ground running

Clarity and transparency are your new best friends when it comes to job postings. Instead of "Sales Rockstar" how about "B2B Sales Associate"? Instead of asking for a "Grandmaster of TikTok Shenanigans" why not just look for a "TikTok Content Creator"? Stay clear and to the point, and tell the applicant exactly what’s expected. This kind of straightforward communication speaks volumes about your company culture, and sets the right expectations, attracting those who would genuinely fit the role and thrive with your team.

Before posting your next job ad, consider the message you're sending. Are you genuinely showcasing your company's culture and needs, or are you trying too hard and causing top talent to cringe and click away? Because today’s eye-roll could leave your bean bags empty, and your brand without the talent it needs to succeed.

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