Job Description Clichés to Stop Using in 2024

Updated January 2024

If you’re looking to hire new employees this year, then you need to write an amazing job description—and that means letting go of certain job description clichés. Hiring buzzwords like “rock star” and “guru” may seem catchy, but they can turn off potential candidates and make your company appear out-of-touch.

Now is the perfect time to ditch these overused phrases in your job ads. In this post, we’ll discuss some common job description clichés and offer alternative phrases to use instead. By using more precise and inclusive language, you can attract a wider pool of qualified candidates to find the best new hire for your company.

The Problem with Industry Jargon

Industry jargon and corporate buzzwords might be part of your daily vocabulary, but many qualified job seekers don’t understand all those terms and acronyms. A 2019 study in the U.K. looked at how recent university graduates reacted to jargon in job descriptions. The study found that:

  • 75% of graduates want job ads to be written in “plain English.”
  • 64% of graduates feel they can’t apply for a role if they don’t understand the job description.
  • 71% of graduates say that industry acronyms like “B2B” make them feel underqualified.

Another survey by Skynova confirmed that job seekers are often confused by job descriptions. The results found that:

  • 49% of job seekers think job posts typically use annoying buzzwords.
  • 38% of job seekers think job posts typically reference internal jargon.
  • 31% of job seekers think job posts typically confuse job seekers.

Other studies draw similar conclusions about clichés in job descriptions.

Whether you’re recruiting for an entry-level job or a more advanced position, you want to attract qualified job candidates. This year, avoid writing a bad job description by replacing clichés with clear verbiage.

Rewrite Your Job Descriptions Without These Clichés

The new year is the perfect time to try new things, like updating your job descriptions. Before you start advertising for open roles at your company, look through your job ads and strike out these job description clichés.

Team Player

A “team player” generally refers to someone who gets along well with others. How can you be more specific in your job description? Try these phrases:

  • Collaborates well with others on projects, offers and receives constructive feedback, and feels comfortable working with different personalities, all with the end goal of creating the best outcomes.
  • Effectively leads meetings by keeping employees focused while also giving everyone a chance to contribute.
  • Willing and able to assist co-workers on occasion.


A “self-starter” generally refers to someone who sees a problem or has an idea and then starts to work on it. However, in a job description, it can imply that the new employee won’t receive adequate training or direction. Instead of looking for a “proactive” employee or expecting a new hire to “hit the ground running,” clearly define the job duties and expectations in the job description.

Work Hard, Play Hard

Are you still using “work hard, play hard” to define your company culture? It’s possible your company culture needs a reboot—or at least you need to describe it better! Whether you intend it this way, “work hard, play hard” tends to be interpreted in a negative way. Job candidates often assume this means employees are expected to work long hours without overtime pay, and they’re expected to drink heavily after work. That can lead to quiet quitting running rampant in your organization.

The best way to express your company culture is by sharing company values, like a commitment to diversity, and describing concrete benefits, like the PTO policy.

Guru, Ninja, Wizard, Jedi, Expert, Rock Star

“Guru” and “expert” are vague terms that might convince qualified candidates that they’re not experienced enough for the role. And unless you’re staffing for Comic Con, you don’t need to hire a wizard or a Jedi. In addition, a survey found that “guru,” “wizard,” and “ninja” are all in the top five terms that give job seekers a negative impression.

Now that you know what terms NOT to use, what words should you use instead?

Use a standard job title, like UI Designer or Software Engineer. Also, list specific required skills, experience, and certifications in the job description.

The important thing is to be precise. A clear and concise job ad invites qualified candidates to apply.

Idiomatic Expressions

Canva looked at 6.3 million job ads and found that 38 percent contain confusing jargon and business clichés. Their research also looked at the unique jargon terms that over-indexed the most in online job ads posted in each U.S. state. Most of these are idiomatic expressions. Here are eight common phrases to avoid in your job description:

  • Peel the onion
  • Make hay
  • Blue sky thinking
  • Low hanging fruit
  • Open the kimono
  • Move the needle
  • Drill down

Idiomatic expressions can confuse job seekers, especially if English is their second language or they’re new to the industry. Stick with clear language instead.

Vague Essential Skills

Phrases like “communication skills,” “leadership skills,” and “organizational skills” aren’t all that meaningful on their own—get specific about what you mean. List precise skills tied to actual job duties so applicants can identify exactly which qualities will set them up for success in the role. Try phrases like these instead:

  • Builds rapport and establishes positive relationships with colleagues and clients.
  • Finds common ground and fosters win-win outcomes.
  • Drafts clear and compelling written communications.
  • Makes well-informed decisions based on thorough analysis.
  • Adapts leadership style to different situations and team dynamics.

Challenging Work or Competitive Environment

Not everyone is motivated by a sense of challenge or competition. In fact, these phrases may be a red flag for some applicants, as they can be associated with toxic work environments. Consider alternatives like “problem-solving” or “opportunities to learn” to convey a more positive and inclusive sense of the motivating factors.

Salary Commensurate with Experience

Workers are increasingly fed up with evasive wording around compensation. Surveys show that Gen Z candidates won’t even apply for jobs that don’t list an actual salary range. Salary transparency is becoming the norm and an expectation.

Rewrite Your Job Descriptions with Insight Global

If you need help revamping your job descriptions this year, contact Insight Global today. Our hiring partners offer a FREE job description consultation.