I love recruiting. Where else can you have the opportunity to simultaneously love AND hate so many people at the same time? Lately, recruiting as an industry is getting a bad rap. There’s some truth to what people say: In the staffing/free agent world, recruiters can be mercenaries, choosing dollars over building a great candidate experience. In corporate roles, it’s easy to see why recruiters are called lazy, inside the box thinkers. Don’t be offended; I don’t mean YOU. But we have to know that it’s a perception held by many.

What I want to bring to your attention are a few everyday words and phrases that a lot of us use without thinking. We can’t change recruiting culture overnight, but we CAN stop saying these things, things that I think undercut what we do and feed other people’s perceptions of our jobs.

The War on Talent:

Anyone reading this fought in a war? I didn’t. But I served in the Army reserves, know a few veterans, and I study history as a hobby. Every time I see this idiotic phrase I want to slap someone. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT WAR IS? How are we comparing our competition over a limited talent pool to what’s happening in Syria? To what happened at Pearl Harbor, Stalingrad, Nagasaki, and thousands of other places? Whenever I see this phrase used, I immediately classify the person using it as intellectually lazy.

Thought Leader:

Pretentious much? If it IS to be used, let someone else say it ABOUT you. As in, “Boy, that Elon Musk is a THOUGHT LEADER in a wide variety of fields.” Are you Elon Musk? Me either. I have nothing against calling yourself a subject matter expert (or SME), but again, let someone else say it ABOUT you the first time. See also: “Disrupter.”


This one drove me crazy back when I was in staffing. I know it’s human nature to shorten words for expediency, but c’mon, it’s demeaning. Especially when they’re right THERE in front of you. I call them temporary workers, or temporaries, or even contract workers. When I know them, I try to call them by their name. It’s a small thing, but why shouldn’t there be dignity in every job?


With one big exception (the folks over at Social Talent, who truly own it) this is a word that just needs to go away. There’s a job on LI right now called “Time Ninja.” Yeah, they’re looking for a time/attendance HR coordinator. SO NINJA LIKE!

Gig Economy:

Because, you know, going to work is just like being an aspiring musician. You can be creative! Express yourself artistically! Starve because you’re not making enough money and get sick because you don’t have any healthcare!

Okay, thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Let me reiterate my love of recruiting and say that I respect and value the 90% of us who get it, who do it for the right reasons, who CARE. Now it’s over to you: Am I way off here? Did I miss anything? What words or phrases are YOU sick of?

Thanks for taking my call, I’ll hang up and listen. (mic drop)


About our Author: Paul Miller has been in recruiting for 20+ years, working in staffing and as a consultant for Monster.com. He is currently the Director of Talent Acquisition for Goodwill of North Georgia. You can reach him on LinkedIn by clicking here.



By Paul Miller

Paul Miller has been in recruiting for 20+ years, working first in staffing, then in corporate, then in consulting and now in a non-profit capacity. His career highlights include hiring an entire company (60+ people, from North American CEO to entry level customer service) from scratch in 90 days and spending 10 years working as a consultant for Monster.com, where he traveled the country advising companies on their hiring strategies. Paul is currently the Director of Talent Acquisition for Goodwill of North Georgia, where he manages an eight person team responsible for filling 1800+ openings annually. Paul served in the Army Reserves for six years and is a graduate of the University of Connecticut. He has lived in Georgia since 1993, most recently in Decatur.