If you want to succeed in any career, perhaps you should become a ninja. For instance, Shutterstock is looking for a "problem-solving ninja." If you can "navigate Manhattan like a ninja!" then a job as a service technician for Farmer's Fridge might be in your future. And PF Chang's is looking for an "experienced food ninja." 

If being a ninja isn't your style, you can be a guru--over 800 job postings at Indeed.com, in the NYC area contain that word in the description.

It's all ridiculous. The Atlantic gave a good description of the cutesy and crazy world of job postings. In the battle for good candidates, companies want to show that their jobs are better, their company is more interesting, and working in this job will transform your job into a career. It's like every job application is an audition for American Idol--if you win, you too can be a rock star. 

But here's the thing: most jobs are just jobs. Most companies are just companies. A recruiter friend of mine (who asked to remain anonymous) identified this as "jobs for satisfactory performers at okay companies."

Pretty much everything about humans can be looked at with a bell curve. True rock stars and ninjas are few and far between. But most companies don't need world-class performers. The need good people doing a good job. 

Of course, everyone will argue that their company needs the best! And, of course, you should never settle for second best. But, that's how we end up with crazy "talent" shortages. If you are only willing to hire the perfect person, you're not willing to take anyone from the middle of the bell curve--or anyone who needs a bit of training. That's fine and that's your decision, but if we were to plot management skills on a bell curve, where would you land? If you're not in the top one percent of managers, why would any top one percent performer want to work for you?

Furthermore, how much money are you losing spending months searching for that perfect employee for your imperfect business? If you hire a satisfactory performer for your okay company, you'll get work done in a timely manner.

I'm certainly not arguing you should hire people who aren't capable of good performance. Absolutely not. But you should consider taking a look at what your company actually needs. Do you need someone to do this job or are you hiring for someone to take over the company in 10 years? Those are two very different sets of criteria. 

Before you write your next job posting, stop and consider the type of company you really are, and what type of person you really need. Chances are, more often than not, that person won't be a guru, but a normal human who wants to go to work and do a good job and go home. So look for that person. You'll find your recruiting is a lot easier when you have realistic expectations. 

Published on: Jun 14, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.