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Decoding the 12 most popular phrases in job descriptions (hint, red flags!)

(EDITORIAL) It seems as if many employers just copy and paste job descriptions. Here are 12 red flag phrases to look for when applying.

Employees looking confused at computer due to job description phrases

Guest editorialist, Shannon Grounds, is a Digital Marketing and Creative Director located in Austin, TX. She is also the Producing Artistic Director of Shrewd Productions, a feminist theatre company. 

Applying to jobs can be stressful, but it becomes even more of a season of uncertainty when every job description is riddled with red flag phrases – you know the ones. But they’re almost so popular that you feel like you HAVE to put up with them. Then, worse, you hear them repeated in the interview in such a robotic manner that it makes you swallow the snide remark you really want to say and internally eye roll. Are you wondering what these popular phrases really mean? We’ve been around the block enough to know, so keep your eyes and ears peeled during your job hunt – it could save your career.

Popular Phrases in Job Postings, Decoded:

  1. “Fast-paced environment” – We are understaffed.
  2. “Roll up your sleeves” – See #1.  Also, although we hired you as an Accountant, you will be expected to design our website, run all social media accounts, and serve as a receptionist.  That’s cool, right?
  3. “Lots of room for growth” – You will be paid as little as possible. 
  4. “We work hard and play hard!” – We all work 60-hour work weeks and are alcoholics.
  5. “We have a foosball table and/or beer on tap” – It’s a hard-core dude-fest up in here.  Total sausage factory.  However, please apply if you are a hot woman in your twenties.
  6. “Work-life balance” – We read somewhere that employees like that and have no scruples about lying in a job description.
  7. ”Hit the ground running” – We have no onboarding process. We may not even have a job description. We don’t know what we want, but we want it fast.
  8. “Matrix reporting environment” – You will have at least 3 bosses who will not agree on what your job should be.  You will also be responsible for the work of employees over which you have zero authority.  Good luck with that.
  9. “Great environment with a fun team!” – Get ready to pretend you are excited about whatever made-up engagement activities Tammy in HR came up with because it’s mandatory!
  10. “Competitive Compensation” – a free pizza party once a month is compensation, right?
  11. “Seeking an energetic…” – We want someone young. Real young. So green they have no knowledge of labor laws or standard working environments, so we can exploit the crap out of them. Are you over 30?  Gross.
  12. “Remote option available” – You can work 1 day per month from home, and we will judge you for it.

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