Any experienced job-seeker knows them when she sees them: the common phrases and buzzwords found in virtually all job postings and descriptions. Not surprisingly, there’s a gap between what the job description says and what it really means. The language may look like English, but in reality it’s a strange brew of jargon and catch-phrases that may have different meanings, depending on the circumstances.
Here’s a brief run-down of some of the most frequently encountered phrases, along with tips on how to make them work for you.
Experience required. Many job descriptions include this phrase, without any specific information on exactly how much experience they’re talking about. Some job-hunting experts suggest this should be interpreted as a minimum of three years.
Willing to work independently. Sounds attractive, right? Well, be careful. It could actually mean anything from “We’re not sure what the job entails” to “You’ll have to learn what to do on your own.” This is probably best suited for a person who enjoys the challenge of succeeding without anyone’s help.
Fast-paced, challenging environment. Could this mean “There’s chaos here and no one knows what’s going on”? It’s safe to assume the position requires a candidate who works well under pressure and can juggle multiple projects without losing focus. At some point, you’ll want to determine if “fast-paced” means a healthy production schedule or widespread confusion.
Working knowledge. This one is fairly straightforward. The employer desires specific skills and abilities; if you’re interested, be prepared to offer evidence that you have what they’re looking for.
Opportunities for growth. New companies and start-ups often include this phrase in their job description. They may be operating on a shoestring budget and hoping an interested candidate will look past a less-than-desirable starting salary, in exchange for the chance to move up the ladder. This could be a great opportunity for the ambitious job-seeker.
Perform other tasks as needed and Some overtime required. Both of these phrases suggest a work environment involving hard work and long hours. That’s not a bad thing, of course, especially if you thrive on new challenges and opportunities for growth. (And you can be reasonably sure that’s the kind of person the employer is looking for.) It may also mean the job duties haven’t yet been clearly defined and that, if hired, you may be called upon to help shape the ultimate position.