Let's Cut the Bullsh*t - This is What the 39 Worst Job Advert Clichés Really Mean!

Dynamic. Interpersonal. Detail-oriented. Every day we come across cringe-worthy job adverts filled to the brim with clichés and buzzwords!but what exactly do these phrases mean? This Friday, we're cutting the bullsh*t with 39 no-nonsense translations of the very worst job advert clichés! (You'll never believe what they really mean!)

June 21, 2023

As you can imagine, here at Coburg Banks we have seen, amended and rewritten our fair share of job adverts – from the good and the bad to the downright ugly!

Now, assuming you ignore the weird and the wonderful, the silly and the strange (who on earth advertises for a“loser” or a “dream alchemist?”) there's one major mistake that wreaks havoc on a job advert:

The Cliché.

Behold! 39 of the most cringe-worthy and nonsensical buzz-phrases and cliches that crop up in job adverts time and time again...

...along with our insider (slightly exaggerated but pretty much on-the-money) recruiter translations!

(For a more serious discussion on the matter, I suggest you head over to the Guardian.)

Key Responsibilities.

Cliché 1:      “Duties may vary”

Translation:  "50% of the job will be what it says in this job advert. The other 50% is a surprise!"

Cliché 2:      “All we ask for from you is…”

Translation:  “...if you'd just like to sign over your soul, right here.”

Cliché 3:      “Along with other admin duties, to support senior staff”

Translation:  "You will be a tea-bitch, until the next poor newbie comes along."

Essential Skills.

Cliché 4:      “Good leadership skills desired…”

Translation:  “You’ll be working as a manager, without the manager’s salary.”

Cliché 5:      “Great organisational skills”

Translation:  “Our staff are chaotic – please fix them!”

Cliché 6:      “Excellent interpersonal skills”

Translation:  "Are you going to get on everyone’s nerves and cause trouble?"

Cliché 7:      “Happy to work in a fast-paced environment”

Translation:  “Get ready to be pushed in at the deep end - training’s for wimps!”

Cliché 8:      “The ability to multitask”

Translation:  "You'll be doing three people's jobs...but we'll just pay you for the one!"

Cliché 9:      “Good communication skills”

Translation:  “The ability not to piss everyone off would be great.”


Cliché 10:    "Salary Competitive"

Translation:  "We’re going to pay you as little as we can possibly get away with.”

Cliché 11:     "Salary: £20,000 - £25,000 - depending on experience"

Translation:  "Salary: £20,000."

The Ideal Person Will Be...

Cliché 12:    “Passionate and enthusiastic”

Translation:  “You’ll need it because this job is sooooo boring.”

Cliché 13:    “Proactive”

Translation:  “Should you need us, our door will always be shut...”

Cliché 14:    “Dynamic”

Translation:  “I don't really know what this means, but it sounds bloomin’ good!”

Cliché 15:    “Extremely hard-working”

Translation:  “We’re going to work your fingers to the bone…mwahahahaha!”

Cliché 16:    “A self-starter”

Translation:  “We want someone who’ll do exactly what we want, when we want, without being told.”

Cliché 17:    “A fast learner…”

Translation:  “We don’t have the budget to train new staff.”

Cliché 18:    “Flexible”

Translation:  "You’re going to be working some weird hours and be doing some strange jobs."

Cliché 19:    “Genuinely committed to the role”

Translation:  “The last ten people left within 12 months.”

Cliché 20:   “Detail-oriented”

Translation:  "No one is going to check your work… so the pressure is on."

Cliché 21:    “A team-player”

Translation:  “Are you a nice person who we’ll actually get along with?”

Cliché 22:   “An Entrepreneurial spirit”

Translation:  “We need you to pretty much run the company!”

Cliché 23:   “Results-oriented”

Translation:  "If you don’t reach your targets, you won’t get paid. That's fair, right?"

Cliché 24:   “Able to think outside of the box”

Translation:  "Nothing’s worked so far – maybe you can fix us!

Cliché 25:   “Able to exhibit a good sense of humour”

Translation:  “We don’t want anyone who's easily offended by our crude jokes and taboo conversations!”

Cliché 26:   “Able to manage their own time”

Translation:  “We’ll set deadlines - you’ll meet them – or else…”

Cliché 27:   “Resilient?”

Translation:  "You’re not going to cry when we tell you off, are you?"

Cliché 28:   “Professional”

Translation:  “Get the job done quietly, without causing trouble, whilst wearing a suit.”

Oh - and you'll be able to prove that you've got it all with a...

Cliché 28:   “...fantastic track record…”

Translation:  “Don't even bother applying if you've ever been sacked or have gaps on your CV."


Cliché 30:   "Ideally located in a quiet and scenic residential area”

Translation:  "We live in a tiny village – good luck getting here without a car!"

Cliché 31:   “Within walking distance of public transport”

Translation:  "You’ll really enjoy your 45 minute walk along the main road."

The Company.

Cliché 32:   “You’ll be joining a fun, creative and vibrant team”

Translation:  “Non-hipsters need not apply.”

Cliché 33:   “A relaxed environment”

Translation:  “You can even wear shorts on dress-down Friday!"

Cliché 34:   “Our business is very customer-focused”

Translation:  "If we had to save you or the customer from an avalanche, we’d save the customer."

Cliché 35:   “Lots of perks and benefits”

Translation:  “We offer great benefits, to make up for the crappy job, company and hours!"

Cliché 36:   “A fast-growing company”

Translation:  “There’s currently just two of us.”

Cliché 37:   “Our mission is to {some ethical, friendly cause...}”

Translation:  “Our mission is to make as much money as we can, as quickly as possible.”

Cliché 38:   “This is a great opportunity…”

Translation:  “This is an average opportunity – but do you want the job or not?”

Cliché 39:  "Although we would love to respond to all of our applicants…"

Translation:  "Obviously we can’t be arsed to send everyone who applies a personalised email..."

The Important Bit...

It's a Friday and we do like a good giggle to start off the weekend but on a serious note...

Do your job adverts include the above overused and totally cringe-worthy clichés?

If so, stop wasting your time!

Try doing something a little more creative!

Recruiter Pro Tip:  Candidates will quite literally skim over buzzwords like 'communication skills' and 'dynamic'.  They simply don't mean anything and they certainly won't deter anyone from applying for the job.  Check out our recent blog Myth-Busting: 6 Lies You’ve Been Told About Writing Successful Job Adverts! for more guidance.  Write a job ad without the bells and whistles that gets the job done and attracts the very best candidates to your business.

On the other hand, if you're currently seeking a job - take heed of our warnings above - always check your facts and if a job sounds dodgy, don't apply!

Have a lovely (hopefully warm) weekend!

Coburg Banks - Multi-Sector Recruitment Agency
We help great people get brilliant jobs in top companies.

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