February 29, 2012
Many help-wanted ads use jargon like “detail oriented,” “team player” and “self-starter.” But as Fortune/CNN reports, such buzzwords may signal dirty secrets about the true nature of the job. Companies “use these words to cover up something,” says Kevin Fleming, owner of Grey Matters, a neuroscience-based executive development and coaching firm based in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Fortune asked Fleming and other career experts to decode the most commonly used jargon in job ads.
“Detail oriented” hints that your every move will be scrutinized and second-guessed, Fleming warns. The well-worn “team player” may sound innocuous, but it can really mean that you’ll be expected to take whatever the bosses dish out. Another buzz-phrase, “fast-paced work environment,” might mean that the employer demands high productivity at all costs, and that “you’re going to work more hours than we’re paying you,” interprets Kathryn Ullrich, a recruiter and author based in Silicon Valley.
Multitasking Fleming says, can often be translated as “We may switch up your job description without telling you, and we want you to be okay with it.” He interprets “self-starter” as code for a job in which you won’t be given any sense of direction. “Results oriented” is used to opaquely reference commission-sales positions, while “thinking outside the box” can be jargon for “We don’t have it figured out yet.” — Greg Beaubien