If you’ve spent any significant amount of time reading through job ads, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that many of them are rife with buzzwords and jargon. When these words are used over and over, they meld together and become meaningless. Reading through a job description can be an exercise in both futility and confusion. Here are what some of the most common buzzwords you see in those ads might mean.
Detail-oriented. This could mean that the position requires someone who is focused on the granular aspects of the role, rather than the big picture. You may be expected to flawlessly execute all tasks.
Fast-paced. This usually means that the environment is one in which unexpected assignments, long hours, and multiple deadlines are the norm. But beware that this might also be code for unrealistic expectations, or that the organization is in constant flux.
Early stage/venture-backed. Not much money, long hours, lots of hard work. You might not be paid a market rate salary, but they may offer you deferred compensation in the form of an equity share of the business. Very risky.
Ninja, guru, wizard, rock star, Jedi Master. Barf. Mostly used in start-ups and tech jobs, this means that the hiring company wants to add the best possible technical knowledge to its bench. It may also be used to convey that they think their workplace is fun and energetic.
Team player. This one shows up in probably 90% of all job advertisements. This just means that you should be able to get along with people and share ideas. A true team player is more focused on the overall results than on his individual contribution. Team players are “we” people, not “I” people.
Self-motivated. Don’t expect too much hand holding or direction here. You must have incredible drive. This is usually seen in ads for sales positions.
Entrepreneurial. Willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the goal, including menial and “not my job” tasks.
Growth opportunity. This could mean anything from low pay to high turnover. If you interview for a so-called “growth opportunity,” it would be wise to inquire about things such as turnover, and the types of skills the people who were successful in the position previously had.
Good communication skills. The hiring and human resources manager will immediately know if you can read and write. That’s not what this is about. “Good communication skills” means that you understand social cues and conduct yourself appropriately. You don’t drone on about something without taking a breath for ten minutes. Good communication means that you communicate clearly and concisely, and (ironically) without buzzwords, jargon, or fillers.
Understanding the meaning of these words and phrases and contemplating what they mean can help you gain a clearer understanding of the role and the organization.