Recruiting Strategy | Hr Events And People

Job spec jargon buster: What job specs say vs what candidates hear

Job spec jargon buster: What job specs say vs what candidates hear
Marie Ryan

Marie Ryan


Writing job specs is a skill. You want to convey the culture of the company, expectations on the role and attract the right people in a few lines. Could your word choices unwittingly put candidates off? We reached out to candidates to find out what they think when they see certain phrases.

An exciting opportunity

The job is so boring, we can’t be bothered explaining it.

20 days’ holiday

We don’t want to give you holidays, but legally we have to so we’re going to list it here.

Competitive salary

Whatever we pay you is competitive, regardless of the number. So we will not tell you what it is.

We have a foosball table

We have a complete lack of job benefits, but we bought a table one time and want you to know it.

Must be able to deal with competing workloads

You’ll have different managers who all want you to work on their projects at the same time. It’s your responsibility to complete everything on the list.

Dynamic environment

Don’t get too attached to your colleagues as no-one stays here for long. We call everyone Mary or John, regardless of their actual name.

Agile team

You will attend a lot of meetings, so management will think they are effective.

Work hard, play hard

Upper management will play while you’ll cope with crippling stress, unrealistic targets and unsociable hours. We’ll give you pizza on Saturdays.


You’ll work at a breakneck pace during the week, then go drinking with your colleagues all weekend long.

We’re like family

The environment is so toxic that management lacks boundaries. They treat the office like home, while the employees/children do all the work. Try to balance book sheets while seeing your manager in their office, drinking beer and watching Netflix.

Fast paced start-up

The place is a mess. We have no idea what we’re doing. But we do know we need more people.

Looking for a superstar

We don’t know what we’re doing. We’re hoping to find someone who does, and will show us the way.


You won’t get any training, but will be responsible when it blows up in your face.


We hope you find the job satisfying enough to keep up with our demands, coupled with low salary and lack of benefits.

Demonstrate sound judgment even in ambiguous situations.

Our management doesn’t have a clue what they are doing. You will have to make decisions so we can blame you when things go wrong. Of course, management will praise themselves when things work out.

Must have a rockstar attitude

We hate working here, so we want someone interesting to cheer us up. The ability to belt out a few tunes on karaoke night is a plus. As is a complete lack of ambition, dignity and will to succeed. 

Must cope well with pressure

You’re expected to hit the ground running and make an immediate impact. The company is failing, and it’s up to you to turn it around.

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