Job descriptions: What they say versus what they mean

Job descriptions suck. Here's how to jump through the jargon.

by | Oct 29, 2020 | Humor

This story is part of my Adventures in unemployment series.

I’m unemployed, and that means I’ve been reading a lot of job descriptions. Between blatant spelling errors, vapid vocabulary and a lack of appreciation for the Oxford comma, I’m not impressed. But even job descriptions composed accurately are rarely inviting.

Navigating this gobbledygook garbage patch is a frustrating but neccessary journey for any job seeker. But it can be easier. You just have to learn how to translate the wannabe highbrow lingo of a job posting into something more realistic and human.

Below, you’ll find selected excerpts from real job postings, followed by my translations. Most of these are from writing and content-creation jobs, but the themes are universal. I hope this helps you cut through the clutter in your own job search.

What it says

“Gather insights and numerical trends into comprehensive reports, dedicated to the performance of products and customer experience.”

What it means

“This is probably some BS any 14-year-old with a copy of Excel could do, but we needed to make it sound important.”

What it says

“Community moderators ensure that communities stay true to their cultural norms. They allow community members to react to inappropriate content or behavior that goes against cultural norms by providing tools like guidelines, group charters, and reporting.”

What it means

“Yeah, sorry, we still haven’t figured out how to keep the creeps, white supremacists, and flat-Earthers off our platform. Good luck!”

What it says

“Like the Spartans in the Battle of Thermopylae, we stand together and inspire others to join us in our mission. Stronger as a whole and united by core values, we are more than a team. We are a phalanx.”

What it means

“I stayed up all night playing Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey before I wrote this job description.”

What it says

“Promote teamwork and maintain attitude of cooperation with co-workers in all departments.”

What it means

“Like, don’t be an asshole.”

What it says

“Will partner with designers to support and inform their design choices and create a cohesive brand experience that delights customers and personifies the brand’s image.”

What it means

No clue.

What it says

“Do you get pumped to dig into the latest consumer data protection laws like GDPR or the finer points of enterprise security?”

What it means

“We put ‘pumped’ in there! That’s a fun word! See? We’re fun!”*

What it says

“We are passionate about helping our customers train the right way and achieve their fitness goals.”

What it means

“We’re totally going to judge you for eating that second piece of pizza on your lunch break.”

What it says

“You’re smart, fast on your feet, team-oriented and full of energy. You’re an expert in digital and social media platforms. You know a big story when you hear it. You’re obsessed with details. Nothing gets past you. You have a zero-tolerance policy for grammatical errors. You could copy edit in your sleep (but you won’t — we promise). You love a fast-paced, challenging environment and crave the chance to learn new things. You’ve got goals, which you strive to meet and exceed (all of them). You thrive in a competitive, fearless culture of creativity and expertise. What you do matters, and you’re out to make a difference. Most of all, you want to win. Every. Single. Day.”

What it means

Whoa. Slow down there, Tiger.

What it says

“We would love to have you join our driven team!”

What it means

“You’re dead to us.”

OK, I realize that last one might come off as harsh. But after a stack of rejection letters from companies that all say some version of this, it’s hard not to feel like they’re lying. But hang in there. One day, you’ll find a company that truly would love to have you on its team. Just not today.

*A moment of gravity: This excerpt was from a Zoom job posting, and was actually one of the best job descriptions I’ve read. It continued, “In our pursuit of creating the most secure and frictionless unified communications platform on the planet, Zoom is looking for a black belt writer.” I considered applying even though I know nothing about the finer points of enterprise security, because, yeah, I want to work on a world’s best thing and be a black-belt writer (I mean, I already fixed a missing hyphen).

I still found a way to poke fun at it, but, in truth, it was a solid example of how to write an engaging description. Good job, Zoom.

2 Comments

  1. Rose

    As usual, this is entertaining 🙂 I can’t believe #3 is an actual job description. Really?

    And the second to last one…wow. Good luck out there, it’s clearly a jungle.

    Reply
    • Daven

      Yup! Totally real. I think I cut out a sentence in the middle of the third one, but I didn’t add anything to any of these.

      Reply

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