How to use realistic job postings for better hires

Confused guy stares at computer screen.jpegHave you ever read a job posting and thought it sounded way too good to be true?

Job seekers and HR professionals alike, we all spend a lot of time browsing through job postings. If you’re hiring, you may be looking for examples to adapt to your own recruitment strategies. You’ve probably noticed some job postings are full of vague terms and buzzwords. Here’s some with possible intrepretations, courtesy of Alison Doyle for The Balance.

The use of these phrases tends to be pretty common in recruitment. Almost everyone who’s hired is guilty of using buzzwords and fluffy phrases (even us!). Recognize any?


“This job provides a unique challenge. There are amazing opportunities to lead your own learning and growth. The atmosphere of our fast-paced, open-concept office is both exciting and inspiring. We offer great perks such as the flexibility to make your own hours. Hustle is one of our favourite words around here. Our collaborative team is made up of hard-working, driven individuals that are unstoppable when it comes to delivering our high-quality, innovative products. We take pride in making exceptional products that delight our customers, every time.”

In many cases, some or all of these lines are true. A lot of organizations and their jobs are really greatWe’re not suggesting you throw out these popular phrases and buzzwords entirely. Because they are so common, they can be convenient and helpful especially if you struggle with wording.

Job posting templates often include a lot of these common phrases to get you started. These templates should be adjusted based on how you would best describe your workplace and the role. The language of your job postings should show what you really value. Check out these cool findings from Textio on the language in top tech companies’ job ads.

Job postings tend to highlight only what is perceived as good (and sometimes exaggerated) aspects of a job and company. This practice is understandable given that recruitment is a form of marketing. Recruiters and hiring managers are trying to sell job opportunities to job seekers. Why would they share that the job may be highly stressful at peak times? They’ll probably leave out that the tasks can, for some, be considered quite monotonous. As well, a recruiter will likely not mention or will embellish an office culture that they know to be toxic. Most recruiters aren’t trying to be misleading, but they also want to fill positions. It’s their job.

No job is perfect for everyone

The truth is, all jobs have good and bad aspects. It also depends on the ideal candidate. One person’s ‘nightmare’ could be another person’s dream job. Here’s some examples:

  • Some people want lots of oversight and direction and don’t look for autonomy
  • Highly repetitive tasks can be relaxing or boring, depending on the person
  • Talking on the telephone for hours a day might intimidate or energize you
  • A busy, fast-paced workplace is not for everyone
  • Open-concept offices with lots of activity can be very unproductive instead of inspiring
  • Quick problem-solving and rapid, crucial decision-making may cause stress that not everyone is as equipped to handle
  • Physical demands or standing for hours in a workplace may not work for everyone due to health reasons

Read: How to Help Creative People Thrive at Work

The cost of vague job postings

Most job seekers are automatically skeptical when they vague job ads and will not apply. They may think, “Hmmm, “fast-paced office”, does that actually mean “high-stress”?, or, “Hustle? By a hardworking and driven team, do they really mean over-worked? I wonder if work-life balance is valued there or not?” Your overuse of common recruitment terms and jargon may lead to false assumptions, especially for someone not familiar with your industry.

A vague posting may also leave job seekers wanting more information. If they can’t find it through their own research, they may lose interest and not apply. Some passive job seekers will not even bother to look any deeper. Vague job postings can waste the time of both job seekers and employers, especially in the absence of crucial information that would otherwise deter someone from applying.

Even worse, a candidate might accept a position with responsibilities they did not fully understand or were not qualified for. An organization may not offer the expectations or opportunities the new hire was hoping for or assumed were present.

A bad candidate fit can negatively impact your organization in countless other ways, such as;

  • Employee retention issues that severely impact work flow as well as your employer brand
  • Lessened productivity of the new hire and potentially their team
  • Low job satisfaction
  • Boredom on the job
  • Increased recruitment costs if a replacement is needed + loss from original recruitment costs
  • Lowering morale or negatively impacting team culture
  • Safety risks, especially in environments with high safety mandates (such as manufacturing or medical)

Utilizing realistic job previews

It’s important to provide job seekers with a glimpse into the actual day-to-day of the position. Many employers still rely on traditional methods of job postings and interviews to convey this information. A realistic job preview (RJP) is another method used to give more in-depth understanding of the role. These RJPs typically come in the form of videos, simulations, or testimonials. Job-shadow sessions or office tours can also help candidates get a sense of the work environment and tasks.

Authentic messaging in your job promotion is a key place to start. Creating an accurate yet compelling job posting can be daunting. Not everyone has the expertise or experience or knowledge of this art. You should seek guidance or examples, whether it be online resources or from an HR professional in your network.

Hiring? Get our free guide: How to Write an Attractive Job Posting

Realistic job postings with Alongside

Alongside can help you create realistic job postings. We guide you through the process of creating a perfect posting that doesn’t miss a thing. We encourage you to add specific, clear responsibilities lists that include action words. Ex: ‘Leading and training a small marketing team of three’, or, ‘Giving daily, educational presentations to large groups that visit our facility’.

According to a 2012 Career Builder survey, almost 1 in 10 respondents said a bad hiring decision was due to the company not properly conveying its brand or culture to the new hireAlongside also provides opportunities to include insights into your company culture, perks, work environment, team size, and so much more.

Does this position involve remote work? Will there be physical demands? Does the organization pride themselves on pristine buildings with stunning design and decor, or is it a small shop run from a lively co-working space? Job seekers can take this information to determine whether they could work comfortably in this role, or if they should just keep looking.

Read: 8 Reasons Why Your Company Needs Alongside

A customizable Careers Page allows you to add photos of your office and team. With Alongside, you can also link to social accounts that give job seekers a sense of the daily life and work culture. With access to your social media, they can note everything from whether your team enjoys eating lunch together to if your organization is consistently winning safety awards.

Information like this goes a long way and helps to build a positive employer brand. Glassdoor reports that 69% of job seekers are likely to apply to a job if the employer actively manages its brand.


Providing details about the workplace, tasks, and requirements help job seekers make informed decisions both when they apply and if they accept a role. It helps you as an HR professional or hiring manager as well. A realistic job posting can help you reduce turnover and build safe and happy teams. In the end, most employers and hires will likely be glad you did.