Ninjas, rock stars, and other ways to ruin your careers page

In my line of work, I look at a lot of companies' websites. More often than not, they make me want to gouge my eyes out with a spoon**, and careers pages are by and large the worst offenders. I'm sick of it!

Below, I've assembled the worst dreck, anti-patterns, hackish photos and copy-and-paste clichés I could find. I promise, you'll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

So, if you recognize any of these on your own site, do us all a favor and go fix them right now.

Cliché 1: "We work hard and play hard"

This phrase is overused and empty. When you say “we work hard and play hard,” what you're really saying is we can't be bothered to write something authentic.

A quick Google search pulls up literally 866,000 careers pages with this phrase!

Avoid this cliché by...

Look, I get it. You want candidates to know that they'll have fun and be challenged, and that your company offers a good balance of challenge and social life. The key is, show, don't tell.

Tough Mudder and Dropbox are a couple great examples that illustrate the "show, don't tell" principle.


Cliché 2: Stock photos

If you want to show candidates that you have a generic, nondescript workplace with no personality or passion, then hacky, generic stock photos are your best friend.

To demonstrate just how bland stock photos can be, I randomly chose a stock photo from a careers page and ran it through Google image search:

I found hundreds..

...and hundreds...
... of the same picture on other companies' sites.

Avoid this cliché by...

If you want your company to come across as genuine and inviting, then don't use stock photos of people — use real photos of people! It's 2013 — big, beautiful, personal photographs are super easy to make.

Let me show you a great example:

Cliché 3: Dictionary definitions

Hack-neyed- (adjective.) 1. Boring and unimaginative. 2. Made commonplace and stale by overuse: "the same old hackneyed careers page."

When you do this, you're not being clever. At best, you're being unimaginative, and at worst, you're being condescending.

Avoid this cliché by...

Giving candidates a better understanding of what you do is great! Write something that's actually pithy and original.

The Harvest and Inflection careers pages, for example, demonstrate real personality and charm.

Cliché 4: Ninjas and rockstars

Seriously, knock it off and use normal job titles.

PRO TIP: unless you're starting a band or need to secretly assassinate someone in feudal Japan, then you are not hiring rockstars or ninjas.

Avoid this cliché by...

There's nothing wrong with saying "Full-stack Rails engineer wanted" or "Hiring senior Javascript programmers." Easy-peasy.

Avoiding clichés is one of the easiest ways to improve your career page. Giving a more personal, authentic voice to your website will help you attract better candidates and make a better impression on your recruits.

Do you hate these clichés as much as I do?
Leave a Reply below and tell me your biggest careers page pet peeve.

Thanks & happy recruiting!

Daniel Chait
Co-founder, Greenhouse

[ ** Why a spoon, you ask? “It's dull, you twit, it'll hurt more!” ]

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