Job Posting

What That Job Posting REALLY Means


Job PostingBEWARE: Job seekers aren’t the only ones who sometimes get creative when it comes to selling themselves (i.e. resumes and cover letters that have been, shall we say, “tweaked” to make a person look like the ideal candidate).

Some employers have a tendency to use verbiage that makes their open positions sound better than they really are. Over the years, I’ve noticed some popular job descriptors that should be viewed as warning flags a potential employer might be trying to put an overly optimistic spin on a less-than-stellar work situation. Thus, when reading a job posting via want-ads, consider the following translations:

Motivated Team-Player

Looking for someone who needs a job badly enough that they’ll put up with lots of unmotivated, annoying people from whom you’ll have to get buy-in on almost everything you do.

High Achiever, Driven To Succeed

Must be a complete brown-nose whose sole mission in life is to please and impress management.


Can take a lot of abuse from clients AND management and still act pleasant.

Resourceful, Independent Self-Starter

Since we have absolutely no time or resources to train you, we expect you to figure everything out for yourself… quickly.

Attentive To Details

We have strict policies and procedures and won’t hesitate to blame you for everything if you make a mistake.

Flexible, Enjoys Multitasking

We are unorganized and change corporate directions daily, so you’ll need to be able to clean up our messes and do jobs that A) you weren’t told about in the interview, and B) aren’t trained to do properly – all on a moment’s notice.

Agent Of Change

You’ll be responsible for implementing a bunch of stuff we’ve been unable to make happen with a group of people who are digging in their heels and refusing to convert.

Works Well Under Pressure

Our management team considers everything urgent and is going to micro-manage you daily.


We are going to give you lots of messes to clean up and expect you to figure out how to handle them without our direction and with a big smile on your face, even though we aren’t going to give you any resources or support to get it done.

Okay – so if you’ve visited CAREEREALISM before, you know I’m being sarcastic. But, let’s not forget, all humor is rooted in a bit of truth, right?

I’m not saying any job posting with one or more of these terms should be crossed of your list of potential employers. I’m just pointing out every job seeker should do their homework to make sure they have a realistic understanding of what a potential employer’s work environment is really like. FACT: There are no perfect jobs or perfect employers.

I know these are desperate times and many people feel compelled to accept any job offer they get. However, in doing so, you could jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. You need to honestly assess an employer by asking questions that will help you see their flaws (tactfully, of course).

Remember: employers are like a potential mate. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can change them once you are together. Take off your rose-colored glasses (or, beer goggles, for you younger readers) and choose an employer for who they really are – warts and all.

Finally, I leave you with this last piece of advice…

If you do see any of the terms above coupled with “unlimited income potential,” “rapid advancement,” or “ground-floor opportunity,” then before your apply, I just hope you’ll ask yourself, “Why are they trying so hard to impress me?” Need I say more?

Now, who’s got job posting terms they’d like to decode?

Post them below and help all the job seekers reading this post translate employer-speak.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

J.T. O'Donnell

Job Search & Career Expert. Syndicated Speaker & Author. Wife. Mother. CEO of CAREEREALISM Media. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


  1. Thank you for another wonderful post. The place different might any one obtain that kind of info in such a fantastic technique of writing? I own a presentation a few weeks, with this particular within the look for this sort of info.

  2. Let’s not forget one of my favorites, “ambiguous work environment,” meaning you’ll get conflicting orders from management, nobody knows what in the world they’re doing, or both — which is usually the case. I’m so happy when they include that in the ad, so I know not to apply.

  3. Funny, and scary since I can identify with some of these. When the position is loaded with these it usually goes hand-in-hand with a long list of other duties. I call these Franken-jobs, as in 2-3 different jobs rolled into 1.

  4. I can add to the list. Those jobs that have the have you do the personality type tests before you r application can proceed. Has anyone had the ones that have the strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree, type statements? The statement ” I am happy to work for a wage that just meets my monetary requirements for survival.” this statement to me means we will over a wage that is way under industry standards, and expect you to be happy with it. The statement “I enjoy working in a structured environment.” This means we will tell you when you take breaks and lunch. You are expected to make your bodily functions happen at this time, as bathroom breaks are not allotted in our time structure. “I am happy to receive feedback on a daily basis.” This means all of your work and phone conversations will be monitored and critiqued by supervisors, then you will be told all the things you do wrong. The statements are often reflections of the companies outlook. Proceed with the knowledge that they are showing you their hand prior to being hired.

  5. It’s very strange, but all this “sarcastic translations” were dramatically present as “real life” in the last company I’ve been working for “only” 5 months of real pain!.

    Great article!
    Made me smile (and think) a lot!

  6. What a great article! As someone looking for the right position know..WIN-WIN…to me the company culture trumps salary…by just a hair. One item you missed is “Hit the ground running” Look out they have some issue or project in trouble and expect you to come in and solve..NOW

  7. Multitasking is a myth even the best minds cant handle doing too many things at once I always felt they meant prioritize. Bad customers are part of customer service so that one is not that much of strech. Dealing with them gracefully is part of a professional imaga, And since I am more the emotional type I know I would not be able to handle that type of pressure.

  8. I recently read a posting that said “Must have a flexible schedule and be willing to take on extra shifts when necessary.” My friend and former colleague insisted I apply for that position, that “it wasn’t as bad as it seemed”, although he had spent his first 3 months complaining about the job. Misery loves company I guess. I did apply out of need, and at his “behest”, and then shortly after, moved out of Tampa bay and back to NYC. I realized this is what employers are doing because of this job market. Making unreasonable demands.

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