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6 Red Flags in Your Job Descriptions That Put Off Candidates

Job openings totaled nearly 11 million in June 2022, more than 4.8 million above the total unemployment level, according to the Labor Department. It’s definitely a seller’s market, which means that companies will have to be even more strategic in their hiring process than ever before to find the best talent. 


Writing job descriptions is a skill in itself. It’s easy to make mistakes that dissuade talented candidates from your company, which impacts hiring. By avoiding the six red flags listed below, you can increase your chances of finding the right employees for your company. Read on to learn more.

Why job descriptions matter in attracting top talent

Appealing job descriptions are essential in attracting candidates that are the right fit for your company. Well-written job descriptions are candidates’ first impressions of your organization. Make sure they represent your company in the best light possible.

[Related: How to Identify Top Talent]

Avoid red flags in your job descriptions

When your job descriptions are filled with red flags, it sends the wrong message to potential candidates. Unorganized and poorly presented job descriptions show candidates that your company is unprofessional and may not be a good fit for them. This impacts your access to the best talent, there is a smaller talent pool to choose from, and candidates who are actually unsuitable could be hired.


Here are 6 red flags in job descriptions that send candidates running:

Job Description Red Flag #1: Generic wording

Vague, generic language makes it difficult for candidates to understand what you’re looking for. As well as being cliche and overdone, phrases such as “We’re looking for a rockstar!” or "Are you a people person?" don't provide any information about the role or what the company is looking for.


Generic wording also hurts your organization. Why? If your job descriptions are not specific, you'll potentially attract unsuitable applications, which you'll then have to waste time sifting through. This slows down your hiring process, which could negatively impact your business in the long term if not addressed.


[Related: Writing the Perfect Job Description to Attract Diverse Talent]

Job Description Red Flag #2: Failing to clearly explain the job

In your job description, clearly provide the responsibilities of the successful candidate. Be prepared to fill in the gaps if there are questions. If there are unanswered questions, have a sense of urgency in getting back to the candidate, especially if you consider them top talent. What team will they be a part of? Remember, more job seekers these days are making company culture a key factor in determining if an organization is a good fit.

Job Description Red Flag #3: Too much jargon 

Avoid using too much jargon and too many buzzwords in your job descriptions. There’s nothing wrong with making them sound exciting. However, excessive use of buzzwords can make your description fall flat, leaving out the value in the details. For example, ‘self-starter’ and ‘team player’ are now considered an obvious, general part of the job. Keep in mind that using buzzwords considered important in the past is now often looked at as outdated.

Avoid HR buzzwords (Image Source)

Job Description Red Flag #4: Poor salary transparency

Nothing says “we don't offer competitive compensation” like a job description that's stingy in providing salary information. If you're not transparent about what the position pays, you run the risk of candidates passing you by for a more forthcoming company. 


If you're unsure of the details, then offer a range, DOE. That way, candidates can assess whether the compensation fairly reflects their experience without wasting their time, and yours.

Job Description Red Flag #5: Not highlighting what makes your company stand out

If you're not selling what makes your company unique and attractive, what’s the point? Now, more than ever, the job search power is in the hands of top candidates. 


Job descriptions are the perfect place to talk about your team, company culture, and what makes your workplace unique. This is an opportunity to stand out from the competition (without overdoing it). Show candidates why they should work for you over your competitor.

Job Description Red Flag #6: Including too many requirements

It's easy to get carried away and include a long list of qualifications and experience that you're looking for in a candidate, especially when you’re dealing with hard-to-fill tech roles. However, doing this runs the risk of overwhelming job seekers and turning them off from applying. 


Remember: the more specific you are about your requirements, the more likely you are to find the right candidate. Be selective and only list the most important must-haves. 

Final thoughts

Job descriptions can unknowingly be filled with red flags. Generic wording, gaps in job description details, and failing to highlight what makes your company stand out can be detrimental to attracting top candidates


When writing your job descriptions, keep these six red flags in mind to help ensure candidates consider your job description a top choice.

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Dean Mathews

by Dean Mathews

Dean Mathews is the founder and CEO of OnTheClock, an employee time tracking app that helps over 15,000 companies all around the world track time. Dean has over 20 years of experience designing and developing business apps. He views software development as a form of art. If the artist creates a masterpiece, many people’s lives are touched and changed for the better. When he is not perfecting time tracking, Dean enjoys expanding his faith, spending time with family and friends, and finding ways to make the world just a little better.

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