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Clichés in a job ad: to avoid or not to avoid?

In this tight labour market, it is not easy for many organisations to run a recruitment process smoothly from start to finish. Processes are sometimes too slow, causing candidates to drop out. Often, things go wrong as soon as the vacancy is posted. Although we are in a rapidly changing world, it seems as if job ads never change. Cliché words such as 'dynamic', 'enthusiastic', 'flexible', 'creative', etc. can be found in almost every vacancy, but what exactly is their added value? International recruitment agency Robert Walters offers a few tips on how to make your job posting stand out and attract the right talent.    

Clichés are ok, but explain them too  

First of all, it is important to know that clichés are not always bad. The right cliché can be a good weapon in today's 'war for talent'. Because it is so recognisable, it can still win over the candidate who was still in doubt.  Make sure that when you use a cliché, you can also give plenty of examples to go with it. For example, do not just say 'motivated employee', but rather 'motivated employee who can perform the following tasks efficiently' and give a clear description of the task package. This will actually set you apart from most other organisations.   

Don't overdo it  

Be careful. Using too many clichés can make you come across as a 'lazy writer'. They give the impression that little or no effort has been put into writing the vacancy text and, indirectly, that it does not really matter to the organisation whether or not a new colleague arrives. Moreover, clichés such as 'hands-on, flexible working environment, enthusiastic, affinity with...' are actually meaningless, especially when they are not accompanied by details or clear examples."    

Check the quality   

Clichés in a job posting should therefore be the exception rather than the norm.

But how do you know which job posting is a good one, and which is not at all? There are some questions you can ask yourself. If you use a cliché at all, is sufficient context given? Are there enough suitable candidates responding to the job posting? Do those candidates give positive or neutral feedback on the job posting?   

It is also useful to briefly go over the vacancy text with current employees before it is published. Do they think the vacancy and job title accurately reflect the actual position? If you find that the answer to those questions is 'yes', and if current employees also give positive feedback on the text, perhaps a new vacancy text is not immediately necessary. However, is the answer to any of those questions 'no', or are the employees not yet convinced? Then it is appropriate to adjust the vacancy text here and there.  

Involve others  

If it turns out that the problem effectively lies with the job posting, some adjustments are necessary. However, this is easier said than done. Involve the employees who will work most closely with the new employee. They are usually closer to the job content of the profile being sought than someone from the human resources department or management. Their input is valuable, so make use of it.  

After colleagues have reworked the text, it is up to the manager and the recruiter to proofread it so that important information is not forgotten. So much for 'content'.   

Only then can a copywriter or someone from the marketing team shape the text. Phrasing sentences in a way that the text comes across as both attractive and convincing and taking out unnecessary clichés is what they are strong at. Finally, it is also not a bad idea to test the vacancy text. Do not hesitate to ask candidates what appealed to them in the vacancy text or what convinced them to apply. By analysing that feedback and taking it into account when writing future job ads, you will already have an edge over the competition!

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