I've been scanning plenty of job boards lately, and I've become fluent in the secret language that recruiters use to write their help wanted ads. Logic dictates that not all jobs can be good jobs, which means there's lots of terrible jobs that no one wants, and lots of desperate employers trying to fill those jobs by any means necessary.
Correct usage of the secret language is like Febreezing a room full of smokers. The stank is still there, but now your nose and throat stings like Morning Mist, so really, you can't smell anything anymore. Similarly, a well-written job posting can lure a wide range of intelligent, qualified candidates to any tragic workplace you can imagine, simply by masking the odour of their own incompetence with the sweet smell of fruity job prose. This is why it's so important to read between the lines.
Think about your job and your workplace. Now try to remember what the want ad for that job once said. Is it what you expected? Better or worse? Your comments will provide valuable research data on this subject.
In the meantime, to help you navigate the often deceptive world of career opportunities, here's a sampler of phrases used in job ads that you should be wary of.
"self-starter" or "self-motivated" : We're not going to train you, but we're going to expect you to know where everything is and how everything works here. Some mindreading ability would be good.
"fast-paced work environment" (this one's courtesy of Mr. Radloff): We're always in panic mode and there's never enough time to do your job right and people will always be yelling at you.
"a challenging and rewarding career" : There will be many many many challenges and one or two rewards bi-annually. I hope you like pizza parties!
"competitive salary" : We are able to remain competitive by paying you a low salary.
"salary commensurate with experience" : The lowest salary you will be granted after being duped into believing that your experience, however rich and overqualified, isn't up to our expectations.
"detail-oriented" : We have absolutely no quality control happening here, and no one has time to check their work, so you'll be taking the blame for that continuing to happen.
"some overtime may be required" : Some on each weeknight, and some on each weekend.
"must be a strong multi-tasker" : You'll be replacing 3 people who just quit.
"seeking career-minded person" : You better not have kids. Or a spouse. Or parents. Or friends. It would be best for us if you just had nothing going on in your life.
"other duties as assigned" or "assist teams with requests" : A bunch of lazy asshats are going to be bossing you around. See also: Psychotic Secretary
"deadline-oriented" : You'll be 3 months behind on your first day.
"looking for a dynamic individual" : We're looking for an ass-kissing autobot who will buy us all drinks after work.
"must be highly organized" : Your boss is highly disorganized.
"strong/excellent interpersonal skills" : You should be a consummate manipulator with a natural aptitude for back-stabbing.
"creative thinker" : We kinda suck at generating ideas, so we'll be taking yours. Please don't expect any recognition or additional compensation for your talent, which in no way must be allowed to exceed or overshadow that of your superiors.
"fast-growing company!" : The company is fast-growing rich at the expense of your fast-growing ulcer!
"enthusiastic team player" : You'll be doing everyone else's work, in addition to your own.
"commission plus bonus incentives" : You get to eat anything you kill yourself.
"generous benefit package" : Standard statuatory holidays and a first aid kit in the kitchen.
"progressive work environment" : You will hate this place more and more with each passing day.
Tune in tomorrow, when we'll present a fair and balanced look at the secret language of resumés and cover letters...