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‘Work Hard, Play Hard’ and More Phrases That Can Scare Away Job Applicants

As workers grow more vocal about finding fulfilling jobs they can do without working much overtime—a practice that has been called “quiet quitting” or “anti-hustle”—many job seekers are closely examining job postings for commonly used phrases they view as red flags for potential overwork. Phrases that turn off job seekers include “must handle stress well” and “willing to wear many hats,” according to a survey of 800 job seekers by Paychex Inc. Some workers say that “we’re like a family” can read as code for being subject to verbal abuse, and descriptions touting perks such as free meals and on-site entertainment can indicate bosses will expect employees to put in long hours.

In reviews of employers by workers posting on Glassdoor, the terms “self-starter” and “hustle” came up in more negative comments than positive ones, according to a Glassdoor analysis. However, companies seem to be using those two terms in more job postings lately, according to The term “fast-paced” used in job ads doubled between 2019 and 2022, Indeed noted.