What Do Your Job Listings Reveal About Your Company? Part 3: Red Flag Words & Catfishing

When employers write job listings, they often forget to read them from the perspective of a potential candidate. Highly skilled applicants review job listings closely, reading “between the lines” to interpret the language. Here are some red flag terms to look out for. 

Don’t Catfish Your Candidates

As many as 20% of new hires leave a job within the first 45 days, and it can cost up to €15000 to replace them. Most companies can’t afford to spend thousands of Euros a month on rehiring lost staff, so it’s important to hire the right people for the job. The primary cause of new employees leaving shortly after they are hired is that they feel that the job was a “bait-and-switch”. The work they are doing is not the job they applied for, and isn’t the job described during the interview process. 

This process is so common that people have begun to call it “catfishing”. Like any catfishing, negative feelings about the job function are magnified by feelings of deception and betrayal. Inaccurate and misleading job listings are simply the best way to ensure that you won’t hire the right candidates, and they won’t stay with the company. 

Common Red Flag Terms to Avoid when Writing Job Listings

There are some common red flag terms and phrases that highly skilled candidates interpret and avoid when considering a new position. If you want to attract the best people, here are some things to avoid:

  • Slashy job titles. Slashy job titles like “office administrator/translator” or “web designer/developer” are a huge red flag. It indicates that the employer wants to hire one person to do two jobs, and also that they intend to pay a single salary (the salary associated with the most junior job title) for highly skilled work. 
  • Vague job function. A vague or open-ended description of the work, along with phrases like “must wear many hats” or “other duties as assigned” often indicates a chaotic work environment, lack of a clear organizational structure or, worse, that the company is deliberately concealing how much work will be assigned and expected.
  • No work/life balance. Companies that include terms like “must be able to work in high pressure environments” or “willing to work evenings and weekends” are indicating that they don’t respect work-life balance. This is an especially big red flag when it’s paired with a lot of worksite perks, like a gym, cafe, entertainment activities, and childcare. This employer probably expects people to spend long hours on site.
  • Excessive requirements. Many employers write job postings as a “wishlist” for the perfect employee. They would have an exceptional education, mastery of a huge range of skills, and years of experience in an equivalent role. However, such wishlists aren’t realistic, and are often phrased as requirements, excluding a lot of talented candidates. Excessive requirements also indicate that an employer isn’t willing to nurture talent or give employees room to grow.   
  • Over-emphasis on flexibility. While a desire for flexibility is natural, over-emphasis is a red flag. A job listing that includes a number of words like “flexible”, “nimble”, “agile”, “adaptable”, “able to change direction” etc. is often indicative of a chaotic workplace, with lack of clear vision and direction from management. 
  • Cliches. A lot of cliches and buzzwords show up in job listings without having any real meaning attached to them. Terms like “team player”, “work hard/play hard”, “digital native (an ageist term)”, “rock star”, “synergize” and the like are, at best, simply copied from other job listings or, at worst, indicative of a poor company culture. When a company uses cliches and buzzwords so extensively in the organization that it leaks into their job postings, it signals that the workplace may be driven by cliquishness and in-group thinking, rather than focusing on function and outcome. 

How to Improve Your Job Listings

While we have written a whole series on things to avoid in job listings, writing better job postings actually isn’t that difficult. Make sure that your job listings include:

  • Your company culture, mission, and vision
  • A clear description of the job duties and responsibilities
  • A realistic list of requirements and qualifications
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Career growth potential

Highly skilled candidates know what to look for and what to avoid in a job posting. Read your listings from their perspective and make sure you are sending the right message. For more guidance on how to improve your job listings and attract the right people, contact grapefrute today. 

Have you missed the previous part of „What Do Your Job Listings Reveal About Your Company?“ You can find them here: part 1 & part 2.