WATCH OUT…What job advert buzzwords really mean

Hidden meanings. My goodness… they are a curse.

Especially if you’re like me – someone who just wants to know what’s going on, make a useful decision then move to the next thing.

Real meanings are hard enough. There are, for example, triangular warning signs beside hilly roads telling me to look out for falling boulders. I’m ashamed to admit my car didn’t come equipped with the latest Boulder Deflection Technology. I’ve definitely missed something. Or I’m about to hit it. I honestly couldn’t tell you.

But a hidden meaning is 10 times worse because you feel dim for not spotting it, annoyed it was hidden in the first place, then dim again when someone tells you how obvious it all was. Hidden meanings are awful.

Most are euphemisms. Euphemisms exist only because the truth is temporarily unsayable. If you’re trying to describe a man at party who’s morbidly obese, can you simply say so? No. He is a “larger gentleman”. Does anyone listening think you mean ‘larger’ like a heavyweight boxer? Of course not. But honour has been preserved.

Perhaps less admirable are the euphemisms in job descriptions. Senior recruiters will have seen and heard these a thousand times, and recognise them for what they are – more unsayable truths. But to candidates and newer recruiters it’s still a code.

It’s worth remembering candidates engage with job descriptions infrequently and reluctantly. Why should they be expected to spot hidden messages?

So we’ve dragged the most common offenders into the cleansing light of day. I am pleased to present to you: The ISL Recruitment ‘Riddle of the Job Description’ List Of Shame (see right)…

Riddle of the Job Description:

We have no process. We’ll give you a desk and a phone. You’re going to need to do a lot of the work and take initiative with often little support.

Ambitious/fun loving or talk about ‘culture’ a lot
We only want young people.

Work hard/play hard culture
You’ll be working 7am to 7pm and be frowned upon if you don’t go out drinking until the early hours and attend every social.

Ambitious or Driven
Be money-hungry. Make us money and bring in clients. You don’t care who gets left in your wake.

Tenacious or Works well under pressure
This is a tough place and you’ll struggle if you can’t manage pressure.

Be prepared to have some KPI or other thrust in your face four times a day.

Good communication skills
Native English speakers only. You’ll need a good phone manner without a strong accent.

If you can use three swear words in one semi-coherent sentence you’re in.

Outgoing and sociable
A gossip.

Urgent need
Someone’s just left and we’re hoping to hire before we fire the next trainee.

Flexible approach to work
You’ll be doing everything. You might end up leading a team, making the tea, moving teams, and maybe using a broom every so often. Because you said you were ‘flexible’.

But don’t think that excuses not hitting all 17 daily KPIs.

Must be a team player
Must not question authority.

Fast-paced environment
We’re spinning our lack of organisation as exciting, modern and cool. You’re going to be run off your feet.

Apart from a Friday morning where last night’s Jäger bombs will definitely be slowing you down.


This article was written by one of our directors, Alan Furley, and was first published by Recruiter.