What job ads really mean

Alasdair Murray

Alasdair Murray Freelance Copywriter

Conduct an online job search these days and you’re soon confronted with lots of ads, many suggesting, without actually saying it of course, that each day spent in a role will be just like dying and going to heaven, only better.

But should they be taken at face value?  Is your workplace heaven? Or is it more like hell, despite what that ever so enticing advertisement that lured you there in the first place suggested?

I’ve taken a look at what job ads say and what they actually mean – and present, for your entertainment, my top 40.

What the job ads say

What they really mean

It’s a stressful role The last person that did this job now spends their days shouting ‘Oi oi saveloy!’ and barking at cars
We’re a close-knit team We have to be, there’s hardly room to swing a cat in here!
You’re innovative You bring your own mug in to the office just in case anyone else has got ‘the lurgy’
It’s a stimulating environment The drinks machine coffee is really, really strong
You’re self-aware Hooray! You know who you are. That’s always a bonus!
You’re a tough negotiator You shout, stare daggers and slam your phone down a lot until you get your own way
It’s a lively environment Get used to having those important telephone conversations interrupted by the intermittent whooping and cheering of the sales team celebrating another success
You’re a strategist You spend your time chin stroking and ‘thinking’ whilst others do the actual work
We’re a friendly team Until you cross us or screw up, that is
You’re fiercely competitive We’ve got 400 staff… but only 15 parking spaces!
It’s a vital role Let’s face it, that photocopying and filing isn’t going to do itself!
You manage your time well You surf the web all day, but minimise the browser whenever someone comes near your desk
You’re an innovative, dynamic and highly motivated team player You’re a big fat cliché
This is a brand new role (as you can probably tell from the very flaky and vague job description)
You’re sensitive to the needs of others Bring cakes in on your birthday, or else!
We’re an innovative company We’ve been using soft toilet paper in our rest rooms since 1973!
An ideal environment in which to grow …tomatoes! The air conditioning is screwed, so the office is generally hotter than the sun’s core
You have good time management skills You’re one of those extremely annoying people that gets up at five in the morning, even on your days off, just so you can ‘make the most of the day’
You’re highly persuasive, and a good team builder You frequently drag people away from their desk to give them some crap motivational talk in the boardroom. You shout things like ‘There’s no “I” in “team”!’ at them whilst they cry a lot
You’re diplomatic and discreet You badmouth your colleagues, but never to their faces
You have what it takes to connect with staff right across the organisation You’ll be working on reception a lot
You touch lives every day You’re a latter day Mother Teresa (but please, no flip flops)
You have previous experience What else can experience be?
Working on a rota basis Kiss your social life goodbye for the foreseeable future
You have well-rounded people skills You get on well with the clinically obese
Ours is a target-driven environment We’d all sell our grandmothers for £1 if push came to shove
You’ll get regular reviews No salary increases, just regular reviews, biscuits and lame excuses
You’ll be a key player You’ll unlock the office in the morning and lock it up again at night long after we’ve all gone home
You’ll develop key strategies For example: how on earth do I escape this absolute hellhole for lunch?
We’re taking communications to a whole new level We’re moving your team up to the seventh floor!
A great opportunity to hone your communication skills Particularly as we’ll be popping out to the local bar for a couple of hours every lunchtime to drown our sorrows, thus leaving you on your own to answer the phones
It’s an environment where you’ll be encouraged to make your mark We advise employees to put labels on the food they bring in to the office so that no one steals it
This is an exciting opportunity Oh come on, admit it. When was the last time you were genuinely excited whilst you were in an office, eh? And I’m not talking about that time at the Christmas party when you got drunk on cheap wine and thought it would be a laugh to photocopy your genitals. Yes, you’ll be vaguely excited for the first couple of days, maybe even a week – we all were. But the novelty will soon wear off and you’ll quickly become sad, bitter and resentful like the rest of us
You’re driven But sadly only to the station in the morning by your downtrodden partner
No two days will be the same It really is absolute chaos here
You’re results-driven If your football team loses you’re almost suicidal and totally unapproachable for days
You pick up the phone and make things happen Mostly when we need more Tippex, staples or toilet roll
You’re friendly, willing and enthusiastic You’re a corporate lapdog
Our modern offices are situated in a prestigious location Yes, the offices are really lovely… if you can find them! We’re in the middle of some Godforsaken, soulless industrial wilderness, just off the ninth roundabout that looks exactly like the other eight you’ll drive past on your way to the interview, as you get hopelessly lost and arrive late, totally stressed out and in a foul mood
You’re robust You never cry. It all stems back to that childhood spent mostly in cupboards.

  • miTRUU6


6th September 2012

Kathy Lawrence

Excellent. Could I add …. You’re passionate about [insert appropriate skill here]. No idea why you have to be passionate rather than just good, but perhaps it’s because we’ll be demanding long hours for little money and you’ve got to get your job satisfaction somewhere

What do you think?

Your email will not be published. PCN members: log in before commenting so your comment links to your profile.

Become a member

Join ProCopywriters

Get connected to your peers, learn from your network and add your name to our popular directory.

Become a member
Learn online

Online workshops

Every month we get an expert, an author or a professional trainer to deliver a one-hour presentation on copywriting, marketing or digital media.

Browse events