Finding the right candidate starts with crafting the right job descriptions. A concise and effective job description can set you apart from the competition and attract the best candidates. A good job description seems like a simple task, but a lot goes into writing one.

Meaningless Words to Cut from the Position Description

You don’t want to see resumes filled with terms like ‘strategic thinker,’ ‘self-motivated,’ or ‘hard worker.’ Make sure your job postings use active voice and strong language as well.

Don’t waste any more time with the following words:

1. Go-getter or self-starter

If you don’t want to hire an employee that needs to have someone hold his or her hand every step of the way, find a better way to describe that. But really, if it’s not an entry-level position, it should be a given that the candidate would be dependable, motivated, or reliable.

2. Professional

Maybe you’re including this term because…actually, I can’t think of a job that wouldn’t require an employee to be professional. Regardless of the position or the company, employees should be professional.

3. Multi-tasker

This term is over-used, under-defined, and even reported to reduce productivity. Most people think they can multi-task, but not all candidates can actually juggle multiple tasks, prioritize them and not get overwhelmed.

4. Minimum Years Experience

Yes. Experience is important, but especially in technical fields, more years on the job does not necessarily mean a candidate actually has the requisite knowledge to do the work. Instead of looking for specific years of experience, ask for proven abilities in certain skills.

5. Team Player

It’s just safe to assume that we work in teams and everyone in the hierarchy needs to be a team player.

Avoid Discrimination in Your Position Description

In addition to the annoying position description words, there are a few that may actually be deemed discriminatory. The right candidate may or may not look like the last employee who filled the position, so it is important to ensure that your job description removes any implied or direct discrimination.

Leaving out the physical demands that aren’t essential to the job (walk, sit, kneel, etc.), here are some words hiring managers should leave off of job descriptions because they may be deemed discriminatory:

6. Verbal

Your candidate needs is to be able to communicate, so use that term instead. Communication is key to the job, but the way that communication is carried out should not be in your job description.

7. Mature

You want a candidate who demonstrates maturity, but that may or may not come with age. So, be careful how you specify this request.

8. Recent college graduate

Because college graduates are usually in their twenties, this term can insinuate that you will not hire an older candidate at a different stage in his or her career – or a veteran.

9. Digital natives

The only way to be a digital native is to never have known a world that did not have a digital world…which is a direct way of putting a time stamp (read age bias) on the age of your preferred candidate. You may mean it as someone who has up-to-date digital skills and experience, but that is not how the term originally began – nor how it will likely be interpreted.

The key is to focus on asking for the desired quality or skill in a way that does not imply or directly state the anticipated age, gender, or race of the person who might bring that quality.

Cut Vague or Discriminatory Verbiage

Getting the right people in the door for the right job is a challenge, and it usually starts with well-crafted job description. The job description is a communication tool between the employer and candidates that helps to define expectations, competencies, and responsibilities. Vague and discriminatory verbiage can prompt a perfectly qualified candidate to skip over your company and land a position with your competitor.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.