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7 Job Descriptions That Fail

        posted by , January 07, 2013

Have you ever carefully read a job advertisement only to wonder — what the heck?

These job description mistakes leave potential candidates confused and can damage your reputation.

1. Non-standard Job Titles

If you call a Bus Driver a "People Moving Engineer". If you call a Regional Sales Representative the "General Manager, North America" — you're likely to put candidates off.

Non-standard or inflated job titles can significantly reduce the size and quality of your candidate pool.

2. No Responsibilities

Job descriptions that assume responsibilities are obvious from the job title.

When you fail to clearly list responsibilities, candidates are forced to make assumptions that can be completely wrong.

3. No Sales Pitch

Job advertisements that make plenty of demands but don't sell the opportunity to prospective candidates.

The best candidates already know they meet your requirements — they're more interested in the opportunities the role offers. You'll miss out by not selling the role.

4. Negativity

Stating requirements with a negative tone.


Applicants without ITIL certification will be rejected.


ITIL certification is required.

State your requirements in a positive way or you'll come off as confrontational.

5. Mysterious Conditions

It's important to tell candidates upfront everything they might need to know about the job.

Office location, flextime, contract terms, benefits and travel requirements are all reasons to reject a job offer.

The last thing you want is to get to the end of the interviewing process only to have your preferred candidates reject your offer when they find out you require travel.

6. Weasel Words

A job description that uses flowery words and phrases but fails to communicate anything meaningful.

As project manager you'll work with a team of highly motivated professionals to create meaningful change and drive value.

Translation: you'll work with good people to do good stuff (fairly meaningless).

Weasel words can leave the impression you don't know what you want.

7. Weak Verbs

Weak verbs such as "participate" aren't appropriate for job descriptions. Weak verbs tend to make responsibilities unclear.


Attend meetings and provide input.


Contribute to project meetings and deliver meaningful action items.

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