Ninja? Be Careful What You Advertise For

Ninja? Be careful what you advertise for

Really? Ninja? Be careful what you advertise for. If you ask for a ‘ninja’ marketer, PR assistant (or, heaven help us, a ‘ninja’ editor), then beware.

This rather bizarre descriptor has become quite common in job ads. And then there are the other favourites: ‘superhero’, ‘rockstar’ and a few others. Leave them in if you must but be warned. Here’s what you can expect….

Ninja risk factors

Personally, I can’t think of anything worse than a ninja as an employee or work colleague.

  • Traditionally, ninjas are nefarious undercover agents – spies, basically – who are experts in dissimulation, disguise and trickery
  • They have ruthless singularity of purpose, a preference for isolation, and few friends
  • Worse still, they tend to whizz sharp objects at you, and practise parkour around the office
  • Although they are extremely agile, they tend to take huge, unexpected backward leaps.

Is that really what you’re looking for in an employee?

Perhaps it’s the ‘agile’ bit that seems attractive to 21st century job advertisers, but that’s an extremely boring buzzword for another day. 

Advice: Explain what you really want. The best potential applicants will probably steer clear of ‘ninja’ vacancies and take their skills elsewhere.

Not just the ninja: reconsider the ‘star’ factor

While you’re here… also think twice about seeking applicants who are prepared to answer to these descriptions:


  • They demand special treatment and adulation from their ‘groupies’
  • The hangover from the weekend will probably last until Thursday
  • Do you really want to deal with wrecked rooms and smashed up furniture?


  • Not the most cooperative ‘team players’
  • They’ll always want top billing and take full credit for successes
  • They’ll make outrageous pay demands and claim the best office space.


  • You’ll never be confident you know their real identity
  • Basically, they do one thing really well; minus the superpower… they’re not so good 
  • They tend to stage epic battles with their arch enemies; this can be a little unsettling.


  • They will assume the mantle of supreme authority and the source of all wisdom
  • Can be quite remote and difficult to locate; they prefer ardent followers
  • They tend to over-philosophise and are better at theory than practical action.

Just generally ‘awesome’ 

  • Those who believe they’re ‘awesome’ probably aren’t
  • If you use the word ‘awesome’  uncritically,  you deserve what you get
  • The real meaning of awesome is ‘inspiring awe or reverence; worthy of adoration and praise’ – in other words, like a god. And you probably don’t want a deity on the team either.

These descriptions are traps for the unwary. Seek out and hire such types at your peril.

Better still,  advertise for what you really want.

Look at other ways to Lift Your Language.

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