Help wanted: Jerks need not apply

Help wanted: Jerks need not apply

“We’re forgiving of a bad day or a personal struggle at home that might make someone a little cranky, but if we see a consistent pattern then they’re not a good fit with our culture,” Albrecht said.

At Panera Bread, the fast-casual food chain that begins its job listings with the “NO JERKS” caveat, Chief People Officer Liz Dunlap said the company wants to create an environment where both customers and employees feel comfortable and want to be there.

By specifying that they don’t want jerks to apply, she said the company is hoping to attract people who fit into a cooperative, noncompetitive environment. Dunlap said that leads to lower turnover.

“More often than not, the reason people don’t succeed here at Panera is because they’re not a cultural fit,” she said. “That could mean a lot of things. It could mean that they’re a jerk or it could mean that they’re (not) used to working in a collaborative environment.”

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Not many companies appear to be following in the footsteps of companies like Panera and Limeade by overtly advertising for employees who are “nice,” “kind” or “not jerks.”

Still, career experts say many companies would be well-served to seek out workers who aren’t likely to exhibit jerky behavior such as undermining or bullying other employees.

Suzanne Lucas, who writes the career blog Evil HR Lady, pointed to a study showing that nurses were more likely to want to quit if they worked with a bully—whether or not the employees were bullied themselves.

She thinks many companies unintentionally end up recruiting people who aren’t that nice, because they think those personality traits are a sign of ambition.

“They do want the aggressive go-get-’em kind of person, and you can be an aggressive go-getter and still be nice,” Lucas said. “But there are a lot of people that think ‘go-get-’em’ is stepping on someone else’s head to get there.”

—By CNBC’s Allison Linn. Follow her on Twitter @allisondlinn and Google or send her an email.

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