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The REAL meaning of Job Ads

January 13, 2016 Advertising, Blog & news, Marketing  6

It’s common practice to “dress up” job descriptions in order to attract a wider range and number of suitable candidates.

However, candidates have come to learn that the trick with job ads is to ignore clichés and over-used adjectives.

Here are some of the most common words and phrases used to attract the unwary and the unsuitable:

“Demanding environment”

Also: “fast-paced” or “challenging.” Be prepared to put in long hours and juggle many different tasks, usually to tight deadlines. You will be expected to be a flexible multi-tasker who must be on call and available to colleagues, customers and management, any time and all the time. If you’re not the sort of person who thrives in or is used to this kind of environment, you are likely very rapidly to become exhausted and washed out.

“Dynamic”One of the most over-used word in job ads. Organisations use it to describe themselves and/or the person they’re looking for. It can mean that the organisation wants someone who can cope with a “demanding environment” (see above) or they want someone with high levels of energy and enthusiasm, a “go-getter” who’s not afraid of challenging the status quo and who’s brimming with innovative ideas and fresh initiatives. Or it could be that the company culture is stale and stultified and they’re hoping a dynamic appointee will breathe new life… will inject a whole new positive ethos…  and probably do it single-handed!

“Fast-growing company”

Oh yeah? Says who? Executive placement companies and career advisors take the view that only companies with an inferiority complex feel the need to bang on about how big or successful (or “dynamic”) they are. And what, exactly, does “fast-growing” (or “successful”, etc) mean? Fast growing turnover? Profits? Staff numbers?

“Market leader”

Like “fast growing company” this could be just bullsh*t. It’s a phrase that can mean almost anything. Wise applicants research the company thoroughly… and not just off the company’s website, but from independent sources as well and – ideally – from existing employees if possible.

“Flexible hours”

Work late, bring paperwork home, go in on a Saturday, play golf with prospects, attend networking events, conferences, seminars and training courses and exhibitions. Regularly squeeze in that extra appointment, one more phone call, one more cold call. What does all that dedication, passion and enthusiasm add up to? 50 hours a week? 60? More? Compared with now many hours are you actually contracted to work? How many are you paid to do

 “Fun and un-bureaucratic working environment”

Could be an organisation in a permanent state of chaos. Nobody takes charge of anything. So nothing gets done. The managers want to be your best mate, rather than your manager. If you take a role here, it’ll probably all come down to YOU to take responsibility and make the decisions that no-one else is making. Which’ll make you pretty unpopular with a staff who’re more used to having fun rather than doing work.

“Problem-solving skills a must”

You could be walking into a company in a complete mess that’s looking for a saviour. You could spend all your time fire fighting… lurching from one crisis to another.

“Sales position requiring motivation”

Sounds like you’re completely on your own, with no support… you’ll need to do it all yourself – do your own prospecting, find your own leads, bring in the sales, manage the clients, do all the paperwork etc. Watch out also for small print about how much is real salary compared with how much is on-target earnings.

“Self-starter” Again, this could mean you’re completely on your own, with no support. But it could also mean there’s an opportunity to make your mark by taking the initiative and “getting on with it” without the need for constant supervision and direction.

If you are happy to be thrown in at the deep end and relish a role that will be constantly changing and growing, this could be the managing position for you.

“Wide variety of experience”

Experience of what? Does it mean the employer wants someone who’s a jack of all trades but master of none? Or does it mean that you’ll be doing the jobs of the three people who just left?

“X-factor” Phrases like this can mean anything the employer wants them to mean. It sounds like we’re straying into the territory of “I didn’t get where I am today without recognising management material when I see it” and interviewers who rely on gut instinct  to make hiring decisions. Which means that YOU could be the perfect person for the job but the other bloke gets appointed just because he’s perceived to have some indefinable, intangible “X-factor”… whatever the heck that might be!

*More at The NAKED Manager (OR: How to be an even better manager than you already are. By Philip J Gwynne.

http://www.philipgwynne.co.uk/2014/04/20/free-business-booster-guides/

Comments (6)

Philip says:
August 4, 2014 at 4:58 pm Reply

William Shaw, Organisational Catalyst, York:
Rob/Philip – it is hard to find any large scale organisation where entrepreneurial spirit is actually prized.
Albeit slightly off-post; another piece of corporate double speak that has always slightly bemused me is ‘a safe pair of hands’.
A safe pair of hands means generally not disturbing the status quo – generally the last thing an organisation actually needs; and almost always the least safe thing an organisation can do (fail to change).

Philip says:
August 3, 2014 at 7:20 am Reply

Rob Young MSc, Principal, The Older The Better Ltd, Management Consulting,
I always like the job ads by large Local Authorities like Leeds City Council who advertise for someone “entrepreneurial” to fill a senior officer position when they want precisely the opposite!

Philip says:
August 3, 2014 at 7:21 am Reply

Philip J Gwynne, The NAKED Marketing Company:
Having worked in both the private and public sectors, I can state with confidence that entrepreneurial people and people with talent, ambition, flair and skill scare the bejeezus out of local authorities!

Chris Baines says:
August 1, 2014 at 7:29 am Reply

Chris Baines, Consultant at Baines Craig HR Consultancy, Harrogate:
How true, but you missed out those job adverts which say you need a sense of humour. Apart from the fact that we all have different approaches to humour and you rarely meet anyone who claims to have no sense of humour at all, this ‘criterion’ always makes me think that the company must be such a dreadful place to work that you need to be able to see the funny side of everything just to survive working there!

Philip J Gwynne says:
August 1, 2014 at 7:31 am Reply

Philip J Gwynne, The NAKED Marketing Company:
Good one, Chris!
Perhaps other people would share their experience of misleading job descriptions they’ve come across… and what they REALLY mean?

Chris Baines says:
August 1, 2014 at 8:09 am Reply

Chris Baines, Consultant at Baines Craig HR Consultancy, Harrogate:
How true, but you missed out those job adverts which say you need a sense of humour. Apart from the fact that we all have different approaches to humour and you rarely meet anyone who claims to have no sense of humour at all, this ‘criterion’ always makes me think that the company must be such a dreadful place to work that you need to be able to see the funny side of everything just to survive working there!

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