How to understand job ad jargon

How to understand job ad jargon

Why are so many job ads filled with jargon? It’s like you need a special dictionary to translate it all, but if you do master this skill, you can reduce the heartache, disappointment and stress involved in missing out on a role you thought you were perfect for.

We’re not suggesting you don’t apply at all if you see your dream job then stumble across your skillset Achilles heel in the description. But once you understand what they are really asking for, you can be much more prepared for any extras required to get yourself across the line if you decide to proceed with an application.

Let’s do some translating:

Attention to detail decoded:

Spelling and grammar are the obvious ones here, but really it’s just a quick way of saying they don’t want people who make silly mistakes. If you are inclined to transpose numbers or you couldn’t be bothered spell checking your documents, you’re likely to get called on it in this position.

Excellent communication skills demystified:

Most people claim to have them, but what does it actually mean when it comes to a job? It’s all about the ability to receive and convey information clearly and effectively. You should be able to understand instructions, ask questions, adapt to new situations, read behavioural cues from others, and be a good listener. Of all the skills, this is the one that will be on display all day, every day, so if it’s not your strength, look into training or courses that will help you improve.

Very small team in job advertisements explained:

There’s a good chance that the team is highly integrated and works together on all projects. There’s also a good chance that this means you need to get along personally as well as professionally because you have to spend so much time together, so they’ll be looking for like-minded applicants.

Fast-paced, dynamic environment translated:

Looking for flexible work hours? Like to arrive at nine, take an hour for lunch and bolt out the door the minute the clock hits five? This is unlikely to be the role for you.

Self-starters in job advertisement decoded:

Don’t expect to sit back and wait for your manager to allocate tasks to you. If you have downtime, the expectation is you will be generating ideas, helping others and keeping yourself busy without someone having to look over your shoulder all the time.

Happy to pitch in demystified:

When a boring task like stuffing envelopes comes along, everyone is likely to be asked to help out, so they are looking for someone who doesn’t think small things are beneath them.

Ability to learn quickly explained:

This often comes with “and adapt to a changing environment”. You’re unlikely to get bored in this job, but don’t expect to have your hand held for the first three months. You’re the type of person who takes notes, asks questions and gets on with it – if you’re not, you could find yourself out of your depth and feeling a bit resentful about the lack of support.

Why it’s important to understand a job position description before you apply:

Knowing what the jargon really means allows you to better understand what a hiring manager is looking for, and whether this fits with what you’re looking for in your next job.

Job ad jargon seems to grow like weeds, so feel free to add your own suggestions to the list we’ve started in the comments below.


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