Making Sense of common job description buzzwords
Do you look at a job advertisement and think – “What do they mean by that?” or how am I supposed to describe an example of that? If you answered yes then keep reading for an insight into the real meaning of these words.
A recent report from Adzuna found that 74% of job adverts use at least one generic buzzword in their description, with the IT sector most likely to use the convoluted word play, being particularly fond of ‘ninja', 'wizard', and ‘'assassin'.
Some of the most over-used, nondescript buzzwords used in job listings include:
- Communication skills
- Competitive Salary
- Fast Paced
- Results Oriented
- Growth Opportunity
- Self Starter
- Team player
The True Meaning of these Buzzwords
Flexible: Or sometimes "no job too small" or "willing to pitch in" – these kinds of keywords indicate a company that may have a very flat organization. In a flexible work environment, workers are often expected to solve their own problems. Note too that this can indicate a need to switch gears quickly, work unexpected hours (such as nights and weekends) to get the job done, and be able to do things outside of the job description.
Communication skills: Very often written as "strong communication skills," including this phrase means the job requires interpersonal skills, and the ability to speak and write clearly. You might want to emphasize responsibilities that involve working directly with clients or experience with presentations.
Competitive salary: Putting this on a listing is an indication that the company is aware of the salary range for this position, and the salary will fall within the market range. It's up to you to know the salary range, too, so that you can negotiate well.
Detail-oriented: From sending an email without typos, to managing the details of a complicated event, detail-oriented people check, and then double-check to ensure an error-free, flawless execution of any task. Highlight organizational responsibilities, such as planning an event, creating a schedule or calendar, or overseeing a project. Your application and behaviour at the job interview can provide a firsthand demonstration of your ability to manage details. Follow all application instructions carefully; have a flawless, typo-free resume and cover letter; at your interview, show up on time, with adequate copies of your resume and a professional demeanor.
Dynamic: Think of this as an updated version of "shows initiative" – dynamic employees take on responsibilities beyond their job description.
Fast-paced: Use of this word in a job description can imply long hours. It may also indicate a company in flux, or prone to unexpected changes in direction. Be ready in the interview with examples of how you've managed multiple projects or responded to a last-minute change to impress interviewers.
Results-oriented: Use this keyword as an excuse to trot out some of your accomplishments in your cover letter (and interview, if you get one); including this phrase means the company is interested in candidates who save money, staff time, increase sales, or whatever the desired outcome in the job's industry.
Passionate: Use of this word in a job description indicates that employees are expected to do more than punch in and out; This word is particularly common in not-for-profit and technology job listings. Carefully research the company before writing your cover letter and interviewing; this will help you seem engaged with the business and role.
Growth opportunity: This could indicate a few things, from a low salary, to high turnover at the job. A position with a "high potential for growth" is likely something you won't stay at long – which could mean that you'll be promoted to a better role, or that the job is so onerous that no one stays in the spot for very long. Tip: in your interview, inquire about the people who previously held the role.
Self-starter: Expect a position that won't involve a lot of handholding, weekly meetings with supervisors, or set check-ins. Highlight times you've worked independently. If you are someone that likes to ask a lot of questions, or requires feedback and affirmation, this might not be a good role for you.
Ninja: Most commonly seen in start-up and tech job descriptions, ninjas – or gurus and wizards – are an updated version of "passionate" employees. Companies use this word to show that they're looking for a superstar – the best of the best – and also to convey that the environment in the office is young, fun, and energetic. Don't use this word to describe yourself; it'll seem overly self-congratulatory. Be aware that use of these types of words in job postings can indicate the writer isn't certain how to describe the role, and may also be a hint that the job will require long hours and burn-out
Team player: This common job advertisement phrase indicates that the company is more interested in results than in who did what. Emphasize your ability to work well with others, and your strengths at brainstorming and collaborating. You may want to speak from the "we" instead of the "I" while answering some questions during an interview.
Should HR Managers and recruiters just cut to the chase and say it how it is or are these creative buzzwords useful when looking for a new job?