Use Your Words, People!


I’m a wordy person.  I love words.  I love reading them and writing them and loving them and I shall call them George. But even for me there is a limit.

When you are using so many words to describe something that you are no longer describing that something anymore, you have gone too far.  Too far, my angel!

“That word, I do not think it means what you think it means” – The Princess Bride

I notice this a lot in job postings, which is a little sick and twisted, to be honest.  In my head, which is, granted, occupied by Hamsters, I happen to believe that being clear and concise in describing what you are looking for in an employee is the best way to go.  This SHOULD save you time and weed out the folks who are not capable.

But that’s not what’s happening, not at all.

Here are just a few recent examples:

“This is a busy and hands-on role that will include extensive diary management, travel coordination and itineraries, working very closely with the team, coordination of meetings/seminars/conferences, maintaining effective internal and external stakeholder relationships.

No two days will be the same and they will change quickly. You will need to be able to think on your feet and act efficiently and effectively.”

What does this really say?

In this job you will be on call 24/7 managing the whims of at least one executive, and likely more.  You will be expected to know everyone else’s schedules and deadlines while they piss off for long lunches and short working days.  You will likely have to take on several projects that are half-done by someone else just to make deadlines.  You will be working for people that do not typically read their emails with comprehension the first time around, and so they will suddenly realise what they are meant to do at the last minute, which will highly impact you.  And only you. This is a job where you will need to accept that lack of planning on their part WILL constitute an emergency on yours.  This is also likely a position that will require coffee fetching, trips to the dry cleaners, and other tasks not related to your professional experience and brain capacity.

This one is cute too:

“…Reporting to the Chief Operations Officer, the EP loves solving problems. A solution focused “How do we make this happen?” approach ensures delivery…is managed efficiently, effectively and to a high quality.

The EP’s entrepreneurial spirit drives a love of numbers; adopting and championing department P&L.”

This should be read to mean the following:

Your boss will come in with great new ideas and no concept of if it’s even possible.  It will be your job to “make the magic happen.” You will also be the most hated person in the office, micro-managing everyone else’s expenditures and reports. 

This one falls into the “and other duties as assigned”….

“In addition to your highly developed interpersonal and communication skills, you will also be customer focused, professionally presented, demonstrate initiative and be willing to assist the customers of the Centre. Please note your availability to work on occasional weekends and evenings will be paramount…”

This translates to:

In addition to showing literacy and an understanding of the need for personal grooming, you will do whatever it takes to make the customer happy, generally at your own expense.  You will also be expected to wear many different hats, not necessarily related to the job we’ve hired you for, because we run our organisation with a small staff.  You will have no life. 

As with love, there is a job for everyone and a person for every job.  There are actually people out there who enjoy micro-managing everyone else, relish P&Ls, have no desire to have a life outside of work, and don’t mind fetching your dry cleaning.  But tell it like it is, man, for the love of humanity.

All the lingo and HR developed phrases are smoke screens, created with the expectation that you won’t read the fine print, and it won’t matter because by the time you realise what they really hired you to do, you’ve already committed yourself.

Life is too short people.  Use your words.

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