If your company's job listings seek a "proactive" "team player" with a "proven track record" in a "dynamic" and "fast-paced" environment, you're using the top five most commonly used phrases in job listings in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The word you should be using instead? Flexibility. It's a far less common buzzword, and given the demand for flex among the workforce, and job seekers, in particular, it seems far more impactful than any of those aforementioned clichés.
The findings about job listing jargon come from Adview, which analyzed more than a million listings from both sides of the pond to compile a list of the 50 most common phrases and terms. In an article for Fortune, AdView CEO Alex Patterson warns that "a job ad muddled by jargon often stands between an employer and a potential candidate."
The list doesn't just show that employers are recycling the same jargon, it also shows that they're focusing on the wrong perks. The word "flexibility" doesn't even make it into the top 50, but the phrase "ping pong" ranks at No. 33, while "Nerf guns" comes in at No. 47. Even curveballs like the word "ninja" and the phrase "kick it into the long grass" make the list.
So why else should you include the word “flexibility” in your JDs? Our research found that 96 percent of the U.S. workforce needs some type of workplace flexibility but only 42 percent of employees have access to the type they need. And while the average worker needs 2.5 types of flexibility, only 19 percent of employees have access to a range of flexibility options.
Now take into account the previous research that showed that, following salary, flexibility is the most important factor of workplace happiness—more than benefits, more than career progression, and more than additional holidays.
And finally, realize that flexibility ranks in the top 3 job factors in the job selection process for millennial and Generation Z workers—and that it's a big priority for older generations, as well. (Meanwhile, we're still waiting to see the research showing ping pong tables and Nerf guns are a major draw and not a major distraction.)
For these reasons, promoting flexibility as part of your employer brand gives you room to lead. It shows you don't just value your employees but that you respect and trust them, too. And in return, you'll see better business results and a more loyal workforce.
The placement of the word flexibility is also important. A 2013 study by job search website The Ladders suggested job seekers take 49 to 77 seconds to decide whether or not a potential job is a good fit, so by including flex at the very top, you can capture their attention right away, even if they just skim the rest of the text.
Why waste those vital seconds of a job seeker's attention on overused jargon? Instead, showcase the flexibility that makes your organization a place where employees want to work and, for that matter, where employees want to stay.