"Work Under Pressure"? 🚩🚩🚩 Red Flags in Job Postings
The Great Resignation has changed the way that many workers think about their workplace, with work culture becoming a pivotal part of someone’s decision to join and stay at a company. Amid a tight labor market, one would expect employers to shift the language they use in job postings away from phrases that would raise red flags for job applicants. Phrases like "must handle stress," "able to work under pressure," "can multitask," and "fast-paced environment" signal a toxic culture, which we have shown to be a major driver of the Great Resignation.
Yet we do not see any evidence to suggest that firms are refraining from using these "red-flag" phrases in job postings. In fact, the share of new job postings that use at least one of these phrases has been increasing steadily over time.
Job applicants pay close attention to the language in the job postings, and red-flag phrases that implicitly describe a demanding job with no work-life balance could turn them off. Companies with a high fraction of red-flag postings have a harder time filling positions. On average, a one percentage point increase in the share of postings with at least one red-flag phrase is associated with 0.48 more days to fill a job.
In the past two years, job postings in marketing have had the highest share of red-flag phrases. Red-flag postings in marketing commonly use the phrases "fast-paced environment," and "work under pressure."
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The share of red-flag job postings varies considerably among the largest 20 companies. More than 50% of the job postings at Starbucks and Bank of America include at least one red-flag phrase. Others, such as Walgreens and Target, rarely use these phrases in their job postings.
It’s time for recruiters to move away from red-flag phrases and give job postings a makeover if they want to attract the best talent. Perhaps ChatGPT would be able to help them get the text of job postings right?
- Despite the large shift around work culture over the last two years, the share of postings with red-flag phrases that push applicants away has been increasing steadily.
- Marketing jobs have the highest share of red-flag postings. The most commonly-used red-flag phrase in marketing job postings is "fast-paced environment."
- Companies with a higher share of red-flag postings tend to have a harder time filling their job openings.