November 2, 2020

What job descriptions say vs what they mean

Tired of cryptic job descriptions? Us too. Here’s a guide to what they really mean.

2 min read
1. ‘High potential for growth’

Translation: Get ready for 14-hour workdays and minimal time off.

2. ‘Self-starter’

Translation: We’re so burnt out we don’t have the resources to always support you, so you will need to figure your role out, and then explain it back to us.

3. ‘Flexible working hours’

Translation: Expect us to regularly give you ‘urgent’ work at 6 PM that’s due at 9 AM the next day. (Say goodbye to morning yoga classes, this is the only type of flexibility in your life now.)

4. ‘Competitive salary’ 

Translation: The salary is most definitely not competitive, because if was, we would post it on the job description.

Related article: Sign here, please

5. ‘Comfortable with ambiguity and change’

Translation: We have to ‘pivot’ our programmes every six to eight weeks so be prepared for constantly changing roles and responsibilities.

6. ‘Unpaid internship’

Translation: The experience of working with us is priceless. You’ll have to take our word for it.

7. ‘Dynamic and fast-paced work environment’

Translation: It is important to us that our employees have a healthy work-life balance—working at home and living at work.

8. ‘Excellent communication skills’

Translation: Must be fluent enough in jargon to be impressive in meetings, but not more fluent than the HR team interviewing you.

tired pug wrapped in a blanket-nonprofit humour

Picture courtesy: Pixabay

9. ‘A demonstrable history of creating lasting social change’ 

Translation: Don’t bother applying if you aren’t Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, or (ideally!) a combination of the two.

10. ‘Passionate’ 

Translation: You need to feel as strongly about this cause as the founder/CEO does. (No, you won’t earn as much as they do.)

11. ‘Any other tasks assigned’

Translation: This is an exciting chance to file reimbursements, compliance reports, and other work we don’t have an admin team for.

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Tanaya Jagtiani profile
Tanaya Jagtiani

Tanaya is an editorial associate at IDR, where she manages Failure Files, in addition to writing, editing, curating, and publishing content. She also supports the team on website management, recruitment and mentoring of interns, and external communications consultancy work. Prior to this, she interned at Coram Beanstalk, Samhita Social Ventures, and ActionAid India. Tanaya holds an MSc in Globalisation and Development from SOAS, University of London and a BA in Sociology from St Xavier’s College, Mumbai.