How Recruiters Can Overcome Buzzword-itis

Nothing dulls a job description more than an over-indulgence of buzzword phrases such as “enthusiastic and motivated,” “winning attitude” and “willingness to learn.” While there’s no harm in throwing in a buzzword here and there, including them without substantive accompanying requirements leaves applicants hungry for more.

Define the Nuances of the Buzzword

For example, in addition to describing that you seek an enthusiastic and motivated candidate, extend the description to describe what types of results you expect from their enthusiasm. If you are looking for someone who is enthusiastic about building (or rebuilding) relationships with complex and time-strapped customers by using high-touch listening skills, then weave that detail into the job description.

Perhaps you want someone whose enthusiasm is internalized in that they quietly but consistently show up to deliver on ritualistic deadlines that are crucial to the bottom line. Maybe you seek someone whose enthusiasm well never runs dry, despite the humdrum of the daily goings on; this candidate ‘gets’ the necessity to simply be reliable, every day, and does their job well and with verve.

You don’t have to await the interview to start vetting candidates with these qualities — you can look right in the resumes arriving in your inbox. In the example of the position seeking an enthusiastic and reliable candidate, this candidate’s resume snippet may resonate:

  • Meticulously set-up + repeatedly executed upon process initiatives for an event planning manager that led to 100 percent customer satisfaction

While this type of process orientation may appear yawn-worthy to some candidates, other candidates take on such tasks with enthusiasm. In sum, defining where you want their enthusiasm focused may help focus the search.

[Related: 5 Interview Questions to Get Quality Candidates in the Pipeline ASAP!]

Describe the Assets in Action

Similarly, in asking for a ‘winning attitude,’ you can extend this further by describing a winning attitude in action. For example, if you are seeking out a candidate who will color outside the lines and who leverage unconventional techniques in order to get to the win, then say that.

If you are hoping to hire someone who nimbly stretches outside their job description parameters to achieve the win, even if it means potentially making others in the organization uncomfortable, then articulate this fact.

Enable Resumes to Align With Your Job Description

If you aspire to hire candidates into one role and, because of the challenges they may later face, anticipate the position morphing in a totally new direction, then clarify this in the position description.

An example snippet from just such a candidate’s resume, aligned with this description, follows:

  • Quickly advanced, expanding administrative assistant position into key relationship liaison role between client + company. Skyrocketed sales to $400M (from $150M) in 1 year and established preferred vendor presence throughout region by leveraging personal relationships.

Moreover, what exactly does it mean when you ask for ‘willingness to learn?’ Are you saying that the candidate must be ready to dive into the new role and self-train, without a mentor? In other words, must they be willing to learn, as they go, on-the-fly?

Or, perhaps you are implying that they must be willing to learn new technology, new methods, new processes on a continuous basis, because that is the type of culture you offer.

Maybe this willingness to learn applies to your organization’s need for a ‘resilient problem solver’ who has encountered a series of bruising business battles. If this same candidate can prove they not only survived but thrived amid similar challenges, then they also can prove an ability to learn on the fly and to win, despite the odds being stacked against them.

[Related: 9 Effective Ways to Assess Candidates’ Soft Skills]

Illustrate a Story

Providing a brief example of what learning looks like in your company, including a story, enables the candidate to mirror those capabilities in the resume and interview conversations.

Most careerists are eager for the opportunity to match their experiences and results beyond the bottom line. They want to see where their who, what, where, when, why and how — the nuances of their story — intersect with your company’s story.

By creating more elaborate job descriptions, you can attract candidates who more closely resemble your ideal candidate. By illustrating which of the candidates’ assets in action will appeal to your organization’s mission and vision, you can increase the likelihood of attracting that lesser-known, but high-performing candidate to your door.

Learn More: 

Recruiting Glossary: The Terms Recruiters Need to Know