Career

The Hidden Meaning Behind Phrases In Job Ads

Help wanted ads and job postings tend to use the same jargon: everyone seems to be looking for “detail-oriented” “team players” who can work in a “fast-paced work environment.” Fortune Magazine suggests these buzzwords can clue you in to secrets about the potential employer.

Photo by Sam Michel

When a job listing is filled with too much of this kind of blather, “it could very well be that [the employers] actually have no idea what they are looking for. They just know they have a spot to fill.” Similarly, conflicting qualities asked for in a job listing — such as “entrepreneurial” and “team player” — could suggest a number of issues the company has (unrealistic expectations for employees or a lack of strategy overall).

The article decodes common jargon used job ads, albeit through a very cynical lens. Here’s a sample:

Detail-oriented. “Watch out for control freaks,” Fleming warns. Unless the position involves detail at its core — like a forensic accountant or administrative assistant — this phrase hints that your every move will be scrutinised and second-guessed.

Team player. It may sound innocuous, but be wary that this innocuous phrase really means that you’ll take whatever the bosses dish out “for the team.” “Team player is code phrase for someone who will allow us to do whatever we want to you,” Fleming explains.

Creativity for “out of the box” solutions. If you relish charting your own course, respond to the job ads that reference creativity, problem solving and “out of the box” thinking. “That’s jargon for: we don’t have it figured out yet,” Ullrich says.

Paying attention to the buzzwords used in a job ad might alert you to red flags about your potential employer and help you figure out whether the job is a right match for you. Hit the link for more examples.

What’s hiding behind the buzzwords in job ads? [CNN Money/Fortune]


Have you subscribed to Lifehacker Australia's email newsletter? You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.