“Cool” job! Different words attract job candidates in different cities

If you’re an employer seeking top candidates, think carefully about describing a job you need to fill as “cool.”

That word may entice job seekers in Chicago, but it will turn off candidates in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City. This is one of the conclusions that startup Textio found when it analyzed the language behind hundreds of thousands of job listings along with the wait times to fill that job.

Needing good “work ethic” works in California more than Washington

Take needing a good “work ethic” as an example. You may think that’s a universally attractive trait for a job candidate to seek out, but the phrase worked more in California than in the Pacific Northwest. Needing a strong “work ethic” was associated with shorter job wait times in California, but actually was associated with longer wait times in Washington. Turns out, needing to roll up your sleeves and work hard was a phrase that only attracted certain geographic candidates.

Textio suggests switching up the language for Washington job seekers. Washingtonians prefer “dedication” over “hard work,” apparently. “You change the Everett [Washington] version to ‘You are dedicated and diligent,’ and now you’re back in business,” Textio’s senior data scientist Olivia Gunton wrote.

“Synergy” is another word that could repel or attract a candidate based on where they are hearing it. In Salt Lake City, Honolulu, and Phoenix, it’s a positive word that can lead to quicker hires, but in Miami, Philadelphia, or Washington, DC, it’s associated with longer wait times. Meanwhile, saying that a job is “intense” works for candidates in Portland, Oregon, but not Cleveland, Ohio. A “competitive” workplace turned off candidates in New York City, Seattle, and Los Angeles, but not in London or Sydney.

Ultimately, the words within a job listing are a candidate’s first look at a company’s culture, and if candidates are repelled by the language within a listing, they may never bother to apply. To attract a job candidate, in other words, you cannot just spam job boards with the same generic listing  —they must be personally tailored down to the geography of where you want the candidate to reside.