Fun glossary of the hilarious euphemisms used in journalism job ads


Like most freelances I spend a lot of time scouring job sites for leads and it’s given me a pretty good insight into the way language is used to make unattractive jobs sound appealing, or as code to specify a certain type of person. Here’s my fun dictionary of job-related terms. They are all real examples that I’ve seen on various job boards – but the sceptical interpretations are my own!

About the candidate

Keen
= Young

Enthusiastic
= Young, and willing to work for low pay

Passionate
= Young, and willing to work long hours for low pay

Aspiring writer
= Young, desperate, and willing to work long hours for low pay

Not obsessive about Greenwich Mean Time
= Willing to do unpaid overtime

Computer-literate
= We’ll want you to operate the content management system, run the company’s social media activity, blog every day, have an expert knowledge of InDesign, Illustrator, PowerPoint and Photoshop, maintain the e-commerce site, manage email marketing campaigns – oh, and be an HTML guru and be able to knock up a website from scratch before lunch

Should have a degree in a relevant discipline
= We can’t afford someone who has a journalism qualification

Should ideally have a journalism qualification
= But if that costs too much we’ll settle for someone who hasn’t

Must be able to manage a challenging workload to tight deadlines
= We’ll pile unfeasibly large amounts of work on you then throw you to the wolves when you f*** up

Able to stay calm under pressure
= You’ll be replacing someone who’s on long-term sick with stress

You’ll be working as part of a small, busy team
= You’ll probably go off sick with stress too

Opportunity to be involved in a variety of projects
= You’re replacing two people who’ve gone sick with stress

Oversee huge amounts of editorial material
= You’re replacing three people who’ve gone sick with stress

Willing to take ownership of problems
= If it all goes tits up, you’re on your own

Ensure compliance of media law, copyright and libel across all output
= If it all goes tits up, you’re definitely on your own

Ability to work harmoniously as part of a team
= Your predecessor was a loose cannon who pissed everyone off – we want someone meek this time

Detail your qualifications and career history in full
= We want really pointless information, like what grade you got at GCSE geography and the exact date you started your first job
[Why do some recruiters ask for such irrelevant information? No-one actually gives a stuff what GCSEs you’ve got, and why does it matter whether you started a particular job on March 12th or April 2nd? No-one can remember dates with any real accuracy anyway, and who wants to clamber up into the attic and spend hours rooting through boxes of stuff to find their school exam certificates?]

About the job and the employer

Professional environment
= No-one leaves the office before 7pm

Dynamic environment
= No-one leaves till 7pm then you’ll be expected to go to the pub

Exciting opportunity
= The pay is low

Opportunity to gain exposure for your work
= The pay is very low

Your work will be Copyscaped
= The pay is very, very low. And we don’t trust you
[This phrase is commonplace among freelance writing ads. It’s a warning sign that the employer is a nasty ‘content mill’, a producer of high-volume, low-quality copy for other people’s websites. The content mills know it’s not possible to do any original research and writing and still make a decent hourly rate from the work, so they assume that their writers would routinely plagiarise if they could get away with it.]

Competitive salary
= Average salary

Salary DOE
= Depends on how little we can get away with
[The obvious inference from the phrase DOE (depends on experience) is that they want to keep the pay as low as possible by finding out how much suitably qualified people are willing to accept and then shortlisting those with the lowest expectations – after all, if you advertised a job at £250 a day then found a reasonably good candidate who would have been willing to work for £90, you’d kick yourself. A recruitment consultant I met this week tells me it’s not necessarily that sinister though: sometimes the company doesn’t want to state the pay for fear of pissing off existing staff who get less. Either way, I usually avoid replying to ads that don’t state the pay rate because you simply don’t know if the time spent on the sometimes tortuous applications process will be time wasted.]

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