reading glasses

This post is based on a discussion via Twitter about terms used in job descriptions that make you feel like you need a shower. There are quite a few employers out there who use weird euphemisms that may go unnoticed when you’re in desperate need of a job/cash.

While most of us work a 9-to-5 as our main source of income, I would argue that being intentional when applying for jobs is one of the most important things you can do to help with your finances.

Of course, you need money, but you’ll be in a much worse position—financially and mentally—if you wind up in a toxic workplace. Even if you’ve been without a job for a while, it’s best to be selective when seeking employment. The last thing you want is to ignore red flags and be miserable in your new role a few months in. Here are some key words to look out for when skimming through a job description.

“Seeking Candidate Who is Obsessed with…Social Media, Research, Tech, etc.”

I don’t know about anyone else but hearing the word “obsessed” immediately makes me think of a cheesy Lifetime movie with an ex-lover who refuses to let go of a failed relationship. Said ex-lover won’t take no for an answer, shows up at their former partner’s house unannounced, coordinates an “accident” for the new love interest of former partner…see where I’m going with this?

While using the word “obsess” can casually be thrown around when speaking of your favorite candy or TV show, it’s nothing to be glorified in the workplace. An employer seeking individuals who are obsessed with any part of their job, is not one who will promote a healthy environment.

“Candidate Must be Flexible/Adapt Well in a Changing Environment”

While flexibility is an essential skill to have in general, too much focus on it in a job description may indicate an inconsistent work environment. It can also lead to management deflecting accountability when they fail to follow through on expectations.

The last scenario you want to find yourself in is one where priorities and task assignments are constantly changing. Flexibility is important, but so is organizational structure and a clear sense of direction in working towards team goals.

“We Offer Unlimited Vacation!”

If there’s anyone who works for a company that really lets them have unlimited time off, please let me know what sorcery you practiced for this to be possible. For the rest of us humans, unlimited vacation is right up there with winning a $50 million lottery ticket and being best friends with Oprah.

While unlimited vacation sounds nice, it’s likely to be part of a slick sales pitch to lure you in, rather than an actual benefit. If you’re hired on with the company and dare to use your unlimited vacation days, the dirty looks and cold shoulder from your boss will be enough to make you rethink it. And what’s the purpose of a “benefit” if you can’t use it without repercussions?

“Must be Able to Multitask”

During the discussion on Twitter, Katrina summed it up perfectly when she said multitasking “just means they want to take up all your time and overwork you with too many responsibilities.” We’ve all had (or may still have) a job that combines 3-4 jobs into one and expects you to juggle them flawlessly. All while paying you a one-person salary.

Similar to flexibility, the ability to multitask isn’t terrible all by itself. However, an overemphasis on this could spell trouble down the road.

“You’ll Love Our Delicious Snacks/Foosball Table/Other Trendy Perk to Distract You from How Crappy This Job Is!”

I’ve seen a few job descriptions with frivolous benefits that seem to have nothing to do with the job. Much like unlimited vacation, this is another shiny object an employer will dangle in front of you to take your focus off the real important parts of the job. Little things like adequate pay, reasonable hours, work-life balance, manageable workload, etc.

Also like unlimited vacation, these benefits aren’t really benefits if employees are too overworked and stressed to actually use them. Who has time for Foosball when you’re frantically trying to meet a deadline for the project your boss dumped on you at the last minute?!

Sarcasm Aside…

We live in a culture that gives a disproportionate amount of power to employers. As job seekers, we are often made to feel we have to bend and twist ourselves to fit whatever ideal a potential employer is looking for. If we are “lucky” enough to be chosen by said employer, we then have to blindly obey their rules, no matter how ridiculous, degrading—and in some cases, illegal—they may be.

I’m here to tell you, you hold just as much power over your career, if not more. You don’t have to jump through millions of hoops for the sake of landing a job you probably don’t even want, if you’re honest with yourself.

Whether you’ve been unemployed for several months or you’re just casually looking for a new position, don’t allow internal or external pressure to make you invest energy in an opportunity that isn’t a fit. If your gut tells you that something about the job seems off, you’re probably right. Trust that gut and know you’re not missing out if you decide to pass on it.

Even if you make the decision to apply, go through the interview process, get an offer, and you’re still not feeling it, it’s okay to turn it down. I can tell you from experience, you’ll never regret declining a crappy job opportunity, no matter how much the description may tell you otherwise.

Featured Image: Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash


  • Thank you SO much for sharing this. I’ve learned to be a lot pickier in the jobs I apply to because some places are so shady!

    • I agree, there are are some really shady companies out there. It pays (literally and figuratively) to be selective when you’re job hunting. Thanks for reading!

  • These are some excellent tips. I’m not out looking for a new job, but will be passing this along to any friends who are 🙂

  • Pingback: Managing Mental Health on the Way to FI and Job Search Advice | Womens Money Talk
  • Pingback: Women’s Personal Finance Wednesdays: Week 28 Roundup - Tread Lightly, Retire Early

Leave a Reply